Tuesday, September 1, 2009

That's What I Said...

Popular Question: What is the purpose of worship through song in the corporate gathering of the Church?

Popular Answer(s): To lead people to the throne room of God; or to bring people into the presence of God

Sure, there are a myriad other answers I hear, but these are two that I hear time and time again. Just this morning I was watching a clip of worship and I heard the worship leader say something very similar to these answers. I've been pondering this lately...

My friend, Jason Dukes, takes HUGE issue with someone saying, "We are going to church." He will tell you, "We don't GO to church, we ARE the church. The church is a who, not a what." And he's very correct. As a matter of fact, since I met Jason about two years ago, this concept has really rubbed off on me. While sometimes I will still speak about going to "church," I will more commonly say something like, "Where do you guys gather with other believers?" I prefer to refer to the gathering, the church, rather than the building, which is simply a gathering place.

Many readers, I'm sure, are just annoyed with this kind of talk. Well, most of you ARE the church. You get it. At least, now you do. But that guy you just passed on the street - we're just confusing the heck out of him. Religion leans on a building, but followers of Christ, the Church, lean on Jesus Christ. A building has no bearing on our faith. There's an enormous valley of confusion in this vast gap. I want to be part of the solution to clear it up, not just add to the enigma.

So back to our definition of the purpose of worship through song...

If you trust the Bible as a source of truth - and I don't assume that you do, then you might understand the concept of God's omnipresence. Omnipresence suggests that God 's presence is in all places at all times. This is a concept that we find described in scripture in various ways. Here are a couple of them:

Psalm 139:7-8 says, "Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there. If I make my bed in the depths, you are there."

Jeremiah 23:23-24 says, "'Can anyone hide in secret places so that I cannot see him?' declares the Lord. 'Do I not fill heaven and earth?' declares the Lord."

When I hear worship leaders speak of bringing us "into God's presence" I just want to stand up and say, "We were in God's presence when we woke up this morning, matted hair, drooling on our pillows and thinking 'I gotta pee.'"

Don't get me wrong, most of us know what we mean. Most of us. Don't we? Or do we? And for those who don't, and trust me, they make up a large portion of people in our weekly gatherings, shouldn't we care enough, shouldn't we love enough to communicate this truth of God's omnipresence?

I mean, what we say matters......right?

Monday, August 31, 2009

Crowded Creativity

Lefsetz Letter brought this article to my attention today:

Did you read that article in today’s "New York Times" about Microsoft’s response to the Apple "Get A Mac" ads? Deep in, at the bottom of the second to last column, it says this:

"On Madison Avenue, they say that the more hands that touch an advertisement, the worse it becomes."

That’s the beef, but the article continues:

"Microsoft felt differently. ‘They thought the more people saw it and gave an opinion, the better it would be,’ Mr. Musser said. ‘That’s how you develop great software. It’s not how you develop great creative.’"

...So what are the implications for creativity planning for the gathering of followers of Jesus Christ, aka, the church?

Have you ever seen creativity spark in a small group only to see that spark extinguished as more people become part of the discussion? "Sure," you say, "but we need those people to act as quality control in the process. To think of all of the pitfalls that the small group never considered." I agree. It appears to me that there are two elements at work here - one is creative, the other blatantly administrative. The one almost always hinders the other. It's the classic marketers versus bean counters scenario.

However, back to that original group, there's something about two or three people dreaming big - continuing to build upon where the other left off with the dream. And sometimes more, well, it doesn't make the dream bigger, it just makes the dream more...safe.

And I guess that just doesn't feel like dreaming at all.

When did Jesus play it safe?

May we dream big with expectations of more than we can imagine.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Brass Tacks

A reading from Sasha Dichter's blog:

"To thank someone in a way that touches and moves them, you have to feel real gratitude.

To be outstanding at customer service, you have to want your customers to love your product, not aspire to satisfaction.

To have you employees consistently make the right decisions, they have to care about the brand, the company, and its success.

Faking it only gets you so far.  To give yourself over totally to something, you have to care."

Just makes me think...

In communities of faith around this country we see pastors encouraging their local body to be more loving, more giving, more welcoming, more servant-hearted, more selfless, more genuine, more relevant, more incarnational, more intentional...

...and you realize that no game face can ever fill the void of lifeless, impassionate people living lives of insignificance propped up by the fascade of religion in a box.

Jesus, may I see you.  May I really see you and live life uncensored the rest of my days.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Ladies and Gentlemen - I Blog Again!

So I thought I'd celebrate my triumphant return to blogging with this little piece of comedic goodness.  

This is a video of U.S. military guys leading some Iraquis in physical training.  Watch as they attempt jumping jacks.  It is scary.  Remember, this is a skill you mastered by the 2nd grade.  

I conclude the following are potential reasons for what you see in this video:

1. A Stolichnaya Vodka shipment fell off a ship and floated down the Pacific towards the Indian Ocean where it was picked up and consumed by these solidiers on empty stomachs.

2. They read this article entitled: How to Do Jumping Jacks.

3. They just watched this guy and were weak-kneed

4. Insert random reasoning based on the other side of the world myths (sun rises in the west, water drains in the opposite direction, crop circles, midgets smell like cabbage, etc.)

Jumping Jacks are tough.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Jesus, Inc.

I never read the magazine Christianity Today, but I did today.  The January 2009 issue with an article by Tyler Wigg-Steveson entitled: "Jesus Is Not a Brand: Why it is dangerous to make evangelism another form of marketing."  Yes, I too found it interesting.  

I have to be transparent here (note: I now avoid saying "I have to be honest" - the implications stink.  Semantics?  Maybe.), I didn't care for his writing style.  He was a snooze.  However, the subject so intrigued me that I had to read on.  

From what I gather his conclusion is as follows: Mere marketing without community does a disservice to the "C"hurch - that is, the worldwide body of followers of Jesus Christ.  Furthermore, when the local church does market to the public, the public perceives Jesus Christ as a commodity to be consumed.  It's simply our culture.  The quest is to discover how to market without overtly "selling" the concept of faith in Jesus Christ.  

The excerpt below capsulized things for me.

"The problem with implicitly salesy evangelism is bad theology, not bad technique, and it requires more than a simple change in method. If you feel like a used-car salesman talking about Jesus, the solution to the perceived lack of authenticity isn't a smoother pitch—it's a renewal of the church. The potency of personal evangelism is, as it has always been, the simple and earnest retelling of what God has done in the lives of his people. Of course, this requires a community to back up our claims."

Life in Christ produces an overflowing heart and a mouth that tells the good news in love with sensitivity to timing.  By all means, focus the efforts of your gathering on some place and some persons.  But if I may simplify: No marketing savvy will ever approach the effectiveness of simply being the church everyday in our traffic patterns of life.

What do you think?

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Ramblings on Christmas Morning

During the past few weeks, I, maybe like you, began to worry.  About what?  Well, my family of course - that they'd receive enough gifts this morning for it to feel like, well...Christmas.  I was worried more about them, right?  Not the way the situation would make me feel, right?

And my kids were so thankful for all the things they received.  They are so very appreciative.  Quite the opposite of the way I was as a child.  

I've found that I try to live vicariously through my children.  I anticipate let downs.  The thing is, they're much sweeter than I ever was.

And in the midst of my worry, I lose sight of how blessed I am.

Thank you, Jesus.  For the selfless gift of You.  For the traditions You redeemed.  For coming near.  

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Last Minute Shopping Idea #4

Shark Party Kit

...because your kid is not beat up at school enough already, try the Shark Party Kit!

Guarantee your child a "sound thrashing" at the bus stop.  After all, some of the best lessons are learned at the business end of a fist.  

from cracked.com