Tuesday, December 29, 2009

The River and the Ocean

For some reason 2 am is when my brain best functions. Not if I wake up at 2, but if I am up till 2, hold on to your hats, because I turn into an idea machine... Not really, but some of my favorite blogs have come out of late nights of talking and thinking. The few sermons I have written were all products of 1 AM closing shifts at my last job... get home at 1:30 AM, get in bed...bing...Idea and then within 20 minutes, I am done... and the world moves on.

Last night was one of those nights. Idea comes, knocking on my brain. I think "no, I will just remember this in the morning." Idea says "know you won't." "You are right." I reply... and the next 40 minutes or so is spent jotting down ideas and madly crossing them out. I wake up to find some inane scribble and here we are.

In my recent readings on Worship and study of the subject I came across the book "Worship, Community and the Triune God of Grace" by James B. Torrence. This short book goes over (in four sections) the idea that when it all comes down to it, the understanding of Trinitarian theology is the most essential aspect of our worship. If we have an understanding of the three in one - one in three, everything else will follow. It goes much deeper than that, but the basic idea of Trinitarian theology is that in worship, we need to focus on, or at lease acknowledge the Father, the Son and the Spirit and do this in the context of their specific duties of King (Father), Priest (the Son) and Prophet (the Spirit).

I was talking with a friend the other day on this topic and he said something interesting. "Well, when I say God, I mean all three." This kind of struck me, because until recently, this has been my thinking as well. And in reality, it is true. He went on to say "The idea of the trinity is cool and real, but it is hard to hold on to for people, it's kind of a weird idea and a mind boggling concept." I totally get that. In most of our views of the trinity, we are cool with God, Jesus is our friend (I have a friend in jesus!..lol) and the Spirit is like a weird uncle.

As I was thinking about this last night, a story started to develop in my brain (it was 2 am after all).

Picture a village. This small village is totally sustained by a river just a stones throw away. The river provides them with food, water, energy, play, resources and a way to get to other villages down river. Everything the villagers need is based around this river, and life is good!
Now, lets zoom out. The river is actuary a tributary of a mighty ocean. This ocean is only a few hundred yards away, but none of the villagers have ever wanted to see it. They have seen the huge fish in the ocean, captured by other villages. They have heard the crashing waves and have heard that where the water and land meet, you can see the edge of the world. How can the world just end? Where does this all come from? The idea is dumbfounding and honestly a little hard to wrap a brain around.

The villagers can live off of the tributary, so what are they missing? They have everything they need, what is the big deal? The big deal is that they are missing out on something huge. They are missing out on the beauty of a sun set ocean, the majesty of each individual wave, the power of an incoming storm front seen from miles away, the rich sustenance of an unending resource teeming with fish.... enough for one villager, enough for thousands of villages.

We can live in a singular, unitarian, God life. But what are we missing? The enrichment of the trinity, the wonder of our vast, complex, intricate, powerful triune God who still, in all his power and might, has more than enough for us individually.

The idea of a triune God is a crazy concept, but it is an integral part of a rich, vibrant and growing life of worship. In the Trinity, we have a God that is in us (Spirit), with us (Jesus) and around us (Father).

The fullness of God as Prophet, Priest and King.

Thursday, December 17, 2009


We complain that God does not make himself present to us for the few minutes we reserve for him, but what bout the twenty-three and a half hours during which God may be knocking at our door and we answer, "I am busy. I am sorry." Or when we do not answer at all because we do not even hear the knock at the door of our heart, of our mind, of our conscience, of our life. So there is a situation in which we have no right to complain of the absence of God, because we are a great deal more absent than he ever is.

-Metropolitan Anthony of Sourozh

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Multiple Services

In reading this article Church within a Church by Greg Warner (Click the link to read the whole article) several things struck me....so I am just going to comment on a few in red so you know where the quote ends:
  • "But multiple worship services don’t work for every church. What makes the difference?
    The one essential ingredient, according to pastors and consultants alike, is an outward focus. Churches that are committed to those outside their fellowship can muster the resources and tolerate the changes required to make multiple worship work." I find this interesting...as a church I think we need to be caring outward for sure....but I do run into problems with churches that are just about bringing in outside people. Often times it feels they just want to increase numbers. Going to church for me is a time to look upwards not outwards.
  • “I don’t believe the primary purpose of worship is community with each other but to commune with God,” says Arn." I have to agree somewhat with this statement, however I do feel the importance of corporate worship is not being stressed in his statement. There's just something about coming together with a group of people knowing you are all worshiping the One and Only.

  • “It sounds a little like saying … ‘We don’t want to change, but we don’t want to die,’” notes Dieter Zander. “But it is usually out of pain that a church changes. People don’t change when things are going well.”So true and so sad
After reading this article my heart was a little saddened. It somewhat made the situation sound hopeless. Is there a solution? For some it's going to a blended service and trying to give everyone a little of everything....sadly I think this ends up leaving a lot of people dissatisfied. Personally I enjoy having multiple generations in a worship service. I feel there is lots to learn from each person and it tends to be an encouragement to see all different age groups worshiping together. I think we could work towards are solution if we worked toward improving our services altogether. Making services more authentic, full of participation and deeper is something that people from all generations desire. Making a service that puts our thoughts, spirits, and hearts on the right track of having a deep, real connection with God is something all generations can relate to. Maybe we should stop trying to pick the right style of songs or the right sermon topic and focus on helping our congregations dig deeper, become more transparent and connect more than just standing and clapping every time we sing a song.

Monday, November 16, 2009

A Prayer for the Earth

by Brian McLaren- Tim Costello of World Vision Australia and I have been working behind the scenes to compose a prayer that could be used by individuals and groups leading up to the Copenhagen gathering on climate change Dec. 6. Click here to read alternate versions of this prayer.

Most gracious God, creator of all good things, we thank you for planet Earth and all creatures that share it.

Have mercy on us, Lord. Through ignorance and carelessness we have poisoned clean air and pure water. For monetary gain we have reduced verdant forests to barren wastes. In our craving for more we have plundered your beloved creation and driven many of our fellow creatures to extinction. Only recently have we begun to realize the dangerous future into which our current patterns of consumption and waste are driving us, especially in relation to Earth’s climate. Only recently have we begun to see our need to find a wiser and better way of life in the future, before it is too late and our choices are limited by the consequences of inaction.

We who join in prayer today believe the time has come, Lord. Please guide us now, our God, at this critical moment in history, to better fulfill our role as stewards of this fragile planet. Guide the leaders of nations who (will) gather in Copenhagen (on Dec. 6). Give them courage to set noble goals that reach beyond short-range political expediency, short-term economic profit, and short-sighted self-interest. Impress upon their conscience our sacred duty to bequeath to our children and grandchildren a healthy and thriving environment rather than a world in climate crisis.

If our leaders fail, Lord, if they fail to take the necessary action, they will violate both our trust and your calling to use their power for the common good. If they fail, every person will be affected, including generations not yet born. Rouse us all to action, for we are all woven together in the fabric of creation.

This is the moment, God, when a great turning of hearts must begin. So through this prayer, we of many traditions who follow Christ — joined by friends and neighbors of many faiths — unite our hearts in a cry for change. Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

We pray in the name of Christ, through whom you have given yourself to the whole world in incarnation, crucifixion, and resurrection. Amen.

Click here for original website we pulled this from

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Robbed of my tithing

Growing up in church my whole life, tithe is not some foreign word to me. In fact my parents gave us an allowance growing up and split it into 3 piles for us (1 for personal, 1 for the bank, and 1 for church). I used to love taking that little bit of money and stuffing it into the church shaped box in my Sunday school class.

The joy I felt as a kid probably wasn't because my heart was in the right place and I was glad to give my money to God, but because I felt special that I had money to put in that church shaped box. Not the most honorable thing, but the fact that I felt joy at what felt like losing money is something I try to go back to. When I tithe I try to take time to pray over my offering that it will go to things and people of integrity that will help carry out God's plans.

I say all this because I feel the church has moved in some strange directions with tithing. I have been to the stereotypical church that really pressures you to give and you feel like the ushers are starring you down as you pass the plate. I have also been to churches who don't want people to feel any pressure so they hide the offering in a black box back in the corner. I've been to churches that play songs during offering, ones that play videos while the offering is going and also ones that say the announcements while the plates pass.

I am not saying these are necessarily bad ways to do it...maybe it follows the churches style, but I walk away from church feeling robbed of the chance to worship when tithing, a lot. Tithing and giving offerings (which should also include your skills, talents, and time, but that's another blog for another time) should be giving the time, thought, and care that your worship songs, media, and sermon are given. We need to improve on how we take offering instead of blowing by that part of the service as fast as we can. We need to put some thought into it.....

Tuesday, October 13, 2009


Some friends and I were talking one day about our lives growing up. Talking about this adventure and that, as I thought about it, I realized that my memories, the mythologies of my childhood, are probably more vivid than the actual events. Have you ever seen the film "Big Fish"? This idea that things have happened in our lives, and they color our lives one way or another, but how true are these experiences? Does that even matter?

In a way, mythology is truer (more true, whatever...) than history. History is what has happened - what is happening. But myth...

Myth is what we live, that is what we remember, integrate into our lives and believe. Myth isn't necessarily something untrue. Myth starts with history.

As Christ followers, how much of what we believe are these myths? What is made by man? Baptism/communion rituals, worship styles, how we reach out, can we bring coffee into the sanctuary? How we see God in our every day lives? Do we need an hour to pray each day or does the spirit flow freely through us? What is our story? How have these things colored our lives?

And in a way, aren't we glad they did?

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Worship: Intimacy with God

I stumbled across this older article by John & Carol Wimber. It is really great and says a lot of what I believe. Check out this snippet below:

'About that time we realized our worship blessed God, that it was for God alone and not just a vehicle of preparation for the pastor's sermon. This was an exciting revelation. After leaning about the central place of worship in our meetings, there were many instances in which all we did was worship God for an hour or two.

'At this time we also discovered that singing was not the only way to worship God. Because the word worship means literally to bow down, it is important that our bodies are involved in what our spirits are saying. In Scripture this is accomplished through bowing heads, lifting hands, kneeling, and even lying prostrate before God.

'A result of our worshiping and blessing God is being blessed by him. We don't worship God in order to get blessed, but we are blessed as we worship him. He visits his people with manifestations of the Holy Spirit.

'Thus worship has a two-fold aspect: communication with God through the basic means of singing and praying, and communication from God through teaching and preaching the word, prophecy, exhortation, etc. We lift him up and exalt him, and as a result are drawn into his presence where he speaks to us.'

To read the whole article click here: Worship: Intimacy with God

Monday, August 31, 2009

Pastoral Patience

Some of you may know that I have been pursuing grad studies. It was "supposed to," work out right after graduation. But, here I am, 2 and a half years later and grad school just starting this December. However, not only am I in better shape to attend grad school after 2 and a half year, but so is the school. They now have national accreditation, they now have financial aid and scholarship opportunities.

These things brought to mind something so integral in ministry. Patience.

We may have heard "Low and Slow," but even before "Low and Slow," other things need to take place. Lee tell you about my friend. Let's call him Jon. . .

Jon graduated from college, majoring in ministry, hoping to get the open position of Contemporary Programing Pastor at the church he grew up in. In fact, all of the signs pointed in that direction; elders, pastors, committee members and such all giving him the green light... or a kind of greenish light of sorts. It obviously comes to Jon's great surprise when the church hired a guy from out of the blue to take the open position. To Jon, this was a shock. Were did the support go? Where was the "you being here is a God thing," talk? What happened? I spoke with Jon a few weeks after the transition, "How are things going?" Jon, never being one to talk down about anyone, replied, "...Weeeellll.... let's just say, I end up just holding my tongue a lot." Through out the conversation I learned that not only had the church passed on the Jon, but that they had hired someone (remember, Jon never says bad things about nobody..) who was totally incompetent. Every single area of the ministry was hurting. Things from song selection, service planning, musicianship, working with the church's personality and even dealing with the rest of the pastoral staff all became monumental challenges that were never there before. He painted a picture of a very fiery, downward, spiral.

And all Jon could do was watch.

I bring this up because I know these feelings. You would be fooling your self if you said you never have felt them in your chest. Twisting your heart, itching your stomach. These are struggles, feelings of inadequacy, of being unjustly looked over, disrespected, having the answers and answering to someone who doesn't...legitimate or not, we have had these thoughts and feelings. And whether God ordains these struggles or not, a direct lesson or a byproduct can always lead to patience. But not just patience, pastoral patience. Knowing in your heart what is right and just, but letting things run their course; but never letting your fire die, and speaking prayerfully when asked. In Jon's case, it was a church trying to sort out it's identity in a swiftly changing culture. The new guy only lasted some six months and since then Jon has been brought on board in one capacity or another. He has helped to guide the churches contemporary programing and has now been asked to help develop a Young Adult worship format.

Jon is still a volunteer, but he is ok with that - God has blessed him with other professional endeavors. But, through the cleansing fire of patience, his training, his passion for the church, has not gone to waste.

We are leaders of this generation, no matter our resources, no matter our situation. Proactively pray and struggle. Seek counsel and maybe sometimes, keep your mouth shut.
Some one seeking pastoral patience is a pastor in every sense of the word.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Fanny Crosby

So I was looking through hymn lyrics to write a post on an observation I made recently that a lot of hymns have a general theme of "O we have to deal with these sicknesses and pain now but soon we will go to heaven." The gist of the post would have been about how it's interesting that the theme of these hymns were on this one subject and medicine's role had not come as largely into play as it has now and whether this makes these hymns somewhat harder to be relevant now.....that would have been the post however in looking at hymns I kept hitting ones by Fanny Crosby and her lyrics really struck me.

As a senior Worship Arts major at SAU I did a paper on Fanny Crosby and really enjoyed learning more about her, however, now being a few years out of school with more experience under my belt, I have an even greater appreciate for Miss Crosby's lyrics. In the majority of her songs I feel like she really got worship. For example, in Praise Him, Praise Him, verse 2 says:

Praise Him! Praise Him! Jesus, our blessed Redeemer!
For our sins He suffered, and bled, and died.
He our Rock, our hope of eternal salvation,
Hail Him! hail Him! Jesus the Crucified.
Sound His praises! Jesus who bore our sorrows,
Love unbounded, wonderful, deep and strong.

She goes through basically the story of Christ in one verse ( say basically because Christ rising from the grave isn't in this verse). I had a professor who once said that we should at some point in every service be hitting the story of Christ to remind us of why we are worshiping and I totally agree. The lyrics in this song go back to giving God the praise. It all goes back to God, which a lot of our worship songs now a days tend to say "I this.." or "me." Miss Crosby also hits up this theme on, To God be the Glory, the chorus says:

Praise the Lord, praise the Lord,
let the earth hear his voice!
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord,
let the people rejoice!
O come to the Father thru Jesus the Son,
and give him the glory, great things he hath done!

Giving it all back to God. There are a lot of songs out there with great lyrics now a days that I love, but I was encouraged to see the lyrics written so long ago that really bring our focus back to where it should be.

Monday, August 10, 2009

"The Bait and Switch of Contemporary Christianity"

When I hear someone say, "I really need to work on my relationship with God," I have always felt kind of funny about it, but I never knew why. Yes, as Christians, working on different things like studying the scripture, fasting, hanging out with Jesus and what not have benefits. However, is our relationship with God really like a turbulent high school romance or any other kind of troubled relationship?

This article comes from Richard Beck's blog Experimental Theology. A very good, very true, article. http://bit.ly/GPAHP

Wednesday, August 5, 2009


The consumer model has especially affected worship, which is the true measure of the church. Jesus has become a product to sell, and worship is the primary channel for sales. . . . The substance of worship—remembering God's saving deeds in the past, culminating in Jesus Christ, and anticipating the overthrow of all evil at Christ's coming—has been lost.

Robert E. Webber Who Gets to Narrate the World? Contending for the Christian Story in an Age of Rivals.(Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2008), 18.

As a student of worship over the past few years, this topic is something that I have really struggled with. Not so much on the side of playing into this consumer, McWorship, model but more on the side of fighting it. The consumer model is the way to go and as I look into the past, it almost always has been. Worship can be synonymous with someones favorite type of music. It has official music labels, packaging, advertising and the whole nine yards. Worship has become a machine.

How do we break that machine? How do we dismantle it? Even if we go, "low and slow," bolt by bolt, gear by gear, year after year, is it worth it? We are dealing with paradigms and cultural mindsets fostered in people since birth. Where do we even start?

As fellow students of worship we start where everything starts - Christ. He is that "substance of worship." We have to understand that what we do on a Sunday, or whenever, has huge implications. Only we can stop the machine. We have the choice in our plannings and meetings and bands and projects and media - McWorship, or the narrative of Christ. Is it really that hard to chose?

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Wonderful Grace

"You are the one that we praise
You are the one we adore
You give the healing and grace
our hearts always hunger for..."

Del is leading worship this Sunday while our Worship Leader is gone and we are doing "Wonderful Merciful Savior." This morning I'm listening to Del practice and listening to these words......amazing. It's really a wonderful song and has got me thinking about God's grace. Grace is one of those topics that I feel I hear talked about or preached about so often that sometimes it just flows in one ear and out the other without much thought. I know that prob. is shocking to some people, but it's just honest, however when I heard this song this morning it just struck me.

God's grace.......he not only gives us the grace to forgive us, but like the song says also gives healing with it. Take a few minutes and meditate of the words of the chorus of this song....and give God back the praise he deserves.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Dare I say it.... aka "What the heck?"

I spend quite some time surfing the bowels of the interwebs. It is not uncommon to find me dredging up the bottom the the vast webspace. What is interesting is that after you spend some time doing what I do on a regular basis you become pretty jaded to crazy things. "BBQ fork stuck in dogs head for three days! Pic after the jump!" and so on. Things just don't shock me like they used to.

And then I came across Evangel Cathedral. Now I enjoy looking at church websites, because most of them are absolutely horrible. They shock the unshokable....but I digress. For the purpose of this post let us have the website speak for itself....


Did you watch the intro? Yes? Ok, good.

Did you hear the Minister of Shredding unload his handy work as he melted your face? Good.

I hope you payed close attention, because only so often do you hit a gold mine of "What the heck was that?" I have seen some pretty sick and crazy stuff on the internet. But for some reason, this just takes the cake.

So here is my question, "What the heck?"

I don't understand the purpose, I don't understand the flash, I don't understand the grand scale, I don't understand the spectacle, I don't understand why a church has a "First Lady," I don't understand the church unfolding like Optimums Prime. This seems to be a grand showcase of everything that is wrong with the church today. Let us focus on everything but God. I guess that Evangel Cathedral means a lot to a lot of people, and I guess good things are going on there. But why?

I am jaded the the zany nature of the interweb, why does this church stuff bother me so? What is it about this church that makes my stomach churn, but a story about a girl getting 53 star tattoos on her face while she napped (that story gets better...but again... I digress)...I don't even bat an eye

On their web site it says that "We are to be a trailblazer in the Body of Christ in the areas of Worship, Fine Arts, Music and Special Events." If this is so true, why do I find my self fleeing in the other direction?

Here is the equation,

crazy internet hi jinx and grossness = meh,

church website = bewilderd semi-anger.

oh well.

Monday, July 13, 2009

When did you first worship?

Worship is probably one of the more complicated words in Christianiese. Yes, there are bigger words with heavy concepts and people argue about them and whatnot... But worship....It is such a loaded concept that for the sake of this post I will just ask, "When did you first worship?" As we worship through our everyday life, when was the first time we felt the angels sing in the bottom of our ears? When was the first time you felt God surround the inside of you? I am not talking about a slain in the spirit/toungs/healing/life shattering event. I mean that instant, that wisp of electricity when you knew without a doubt what you had always just heard...

Here is mine:

The summer of my sophomore year of high school. We had just moved towns, states, pretty much everything. It was hard.

Let us put that aside.

I had the chance to see my favorite band, Five Iron Frenzy, play an outdoor show on Lake Michigan. It was beautiful. Not just the surrounding area, but the surrounding people. It was the Ska/Punk show event of the year.

I am not very good at writing word pictures, so just pop these images into your brain for a minute.

Lots of Hi-Top Chucks
Kicked in the face (accident)

The band had played for about an hour and a half, pulling out their best of the best. Every one just dancing all night long as hard as they can. FIF always ended a show with their song "Every New Day," and we were all just waiting for that moment. But, they had something else in mind. All was quiet and out of nowhere Reese Roper began the first few lines "God of all creation, of water earth and sky..." and the next line was accompanied by nothing but the voices of the crowd (honestly I was thinking, "How do some of these people know this song?") "... the heavens are your tabernacle, Glory to the Lord on high."

It was perfect. Dirt, sweat, blood, voices mixing into one moment. The song ended and I was on my knees. I felt quiet, I felt the Lord.

The song ended, and the band ripped into the second to last song "World without End." This is probably one of my favorite songs by any band ever. Here is the chorus.

(I didn't have to look them up, I still know them by heart:)

"In the soundless awe and wonder
words fall short to hope again
How beautiful, how vast your love is
New forever, world without an end."

Those words still give me shivers.

This is why I think this is the first time I truly worshiped; I was singing at the top of my lungs, with people just like me. The punk/ska sub culture in a church all their own. I identified with everyone around me, singing a vision of life eternal, "New forever, world without end."

There was a split second where I thought of the last year, the disasters, the hard times, the sweet moments, the looming shadows, but in the midst of all of this, I felt something rip into my world, a fresh opening to something wonderful. I really can't describe it, but I knew, that no matter what happened, God was with me and would be with me always.

I realized that worship isn't something you just do for an hour a week. It isn't a type of music, it isn't a task that a specific person can just lead. It isn't a commodity or a porduct. Worship is the moment that you realize, on your own (meaning not parents, sundayschool, pastor) that God is with you, that God has been with you and that he will never ever leave you. Worship is the idea and the practice of living in that very moment. At that concert and all that goes with it, was the first time I saw that moment. I saw that God is in fact three dimensional; not just in heaven and earth then and now, but always.

At that silly concert eight years ago something moved inside of me. It shifted everything that I know. I want to hold on to that thing, that shifting, moving thing. That thing is the key to worshiping God.

When did you first Worship?

Monday, July 6, 2009

A Small Prayer


Open my eyes, that I may hear
Open my ears, that I may see
Open my heart, that I may know
Open my mind, that I may love


Friday, July 3, 2009

No Excuses

One of the biggest issues I feel churches and Worship Leaders are dealing with (and sadly, dealing with poorly) today is copyrights and the ethics that go along with that. The website, churchmarketingsucks.com did a poll back in January about how churches feel about copyright. Here's the results of their poll: I think it's great that 12% seek legal counsel because it never hurts to be too careful, however I would be happy if we just ensured that someone in the church did research and got educated on the copyright laws. I am a bit worried about the 43% that rely on staff people. Hopefully the staff person is actually worrying and looking at these things, however in my experience, not all church staffs are as concerned as they should be.

Some examples of the offenses against this I've seen are not putting up the copyright info on slides being shown on a projector to the congregation, using pictures that are copyrighted (some even go as far as to just crop the copyright off the picture itself), using video clips that are copyrighted unauthorized, not putting copyright info on the sheet music or chord charts the band is using, copying sheet music or chord charts illegally, and sadly the list goes on and on.

Here's the reason I get so upset.........these are easy fixes. If we take the time to look into things and get educated, we don't have to break these copyright regulations. The Bible says in Ephesians 5:8-9 (NIV) "For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light. For the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth." We are to be the light that consists in all goodness, righteousness, and truth. This means we should be setting the example. There are so many businesses out there that are concerned with copyrights and ethics, yet we the church, the "children of light," are not worrying ourselves about it. Ridiculous.

Ok so here's the deal, get educated! Do your research. Below I've given a few resources to better move the church forward with copyright issues:
  • http://www.ccli.com/ Christian Copyright Licensing International (CCLI) This is what I used for pretty much every song we sang when I was a Worship Leader. Not only do they have great song selections, but they make it so easy to make sure you are following copyright code. The prices are dependent on your church size. Having a CCLI license is not an option, it's an ethical must.
  • SongSelect is a service CCLI provides if you pay a bit extra every month. You can print off sheet music, chord charts, harmony sheets, and all kinds of resources. It's a great resource for finding special music numbers that are on theme with your service because you can search for songs by lyrics. The best part about this is the copyright info is already on the things you print, so you don't have to worry about. CCLI requires license users to submit a report every 2 years or so of a 6 month period stating what songs you have used, how many you printed, what was put on the screen, etc. If you have SongSelect they make it crazy simple to report these things. SongSelect has a database right on the website that you can use to keep track of all these things. Amazing!
  • http://www.cvli.com/main.cfm The Church Video License is another key license that churches should have if planning to show any kind of video media during a service.
  • http://www.wingclips.com/ Wing Clips is a great resource for churches where you can look up relevant movie clips and even search according to theme so that your clip matches your service theme. The website takes care to ensure that all copyright issues are good to go on these clips. You can download the clips on a lower resolution for free or get a membership for a small fee to get higher quality clips.
  • http://www.easyworship.com/ Easy Worship is a program that a lot of churches are using instead of just Power Point for slides. The only reason I am including this link is because Easy Worship makes it easy to put the copyright info on your slides. When you put lyrics into the program it has a place to put all the copyright info as well and then they put it in the correct order on the bottom of your slides. It's magically!
  • http://www.sxc.hu/ SXC is a great site that provides free stock images that have no copyright. The photographers and people who post to this site do so to provide great images for free to users. You just have to create a log-in to get these amazing pictures. There are numerous sites like this, but I just happen to use this one.
So with all these great resources, plus so many more that I haven't named, there is no excuse for churches to not be setting the example in ethics and copyright laws. We represent the name of Jesus and all that he stands for..remember that when you are planning your next worship service....heck remember that in your everyday life of worship.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

The Taize Community

The Taize Community, based out of France, has been growing since the late '40s. Their impact has been growing worldwide with people from all denominations, Catholic, Protestant, joining them in worship. The interesting thing is that the backbone of the community live a sort of monastic lifestyle with the purpose of living to be a sign of reconciliation between divided Christians and between separated peoples. The other aspect is that while there is this main group of Brothers, anyone can join in with them in worship and prayer. Here is an example of a daily time of worship:

Check them out at www.taize.fr

Time of the Church 11



When the Lord delivered us from bondage,
it seemed like a dream.
Then was our mouth filled with laughter,
on our lips there were songs.

The heathens themselves said: “What marvels
the Lord worked for them!”
What marvels the Lord worked for us!
Indeed we were glad.

Deliver us, O Lord, from our bondage
as streams in dry land.
Those who are sowing in tears
will sing when they reap.

They go out, they go out, full of tears,
carrying seed for the sowing;
they come back, they come back, full of song,
carrying their sheaves.

Psalm 126


Paul wrote: If I speak in the tongues of mortals and of angels, but do not have love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give away all my possessions, and if I hand over my body so that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing. Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends. But as for prophecies, they will come to an end; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will come to an end. For we know only in part, and we prophesy only in part. (…) And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love.

l Corinthians 13,1-9.13


In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.

John 1,1-5




For those who are far from home, immigrants, exiles, victims of oppression, Lord, we pray.

For those who are going through trials, who need help and compassion, Lord, we pray.

For all of us gathered here, that we may remain attentive to those entrusted to us, Lord, we pray.

That we may be delivered from all anxiety, Lord, we pray.

That we may learn to share more fairly the resources of our planet among all, Lord, we pray.

That a sense of wonder at the beauty of creation may remain alive in us, Lord, we pray.

That we may find light and courage in the mystery of communion that is the Church, Lord, we pray.

Our Father


Jesus our peace, you never abandon us. And the Holy Spirit always opens a way forward, the way which consists in casting ourselves into God as into the depths. And astonishment arises: these depths are not an abyss of darkness; they are God—fathomless depths of compassion and innocence.


Bless us, Lord Christ; you give peace to our hearts when the unthinkable happens, the suffering of the innocent.


Tuesday, June 30, 2009

A Time to Worship and Re:fresh

Thank you DJ Jamin for the article.

A Time to Worship and Re:fresh

Written by John Rhaesa

Re:Fresh Flyer

Re:fresh ambient/chillout worship night took place in the Dance Barn at Cornerstone Music Festival in Bushnell, Illinois at 1:00 to 3:00 am on July 2, 2005. It was intended to reenergize and renew people’s passion for Jesus Christ. It all got started when Cindy Tucker from the Underground in Cincinnati, had a conversation with my friend DJ Davo (Dave Copeland) about hosting an interactive worship experience at Cornerstone. Davo explained to Cindy what I have been experimenting with at my church and Cindy asked if it would be possible to submit a demo and the rest is history.

As far as my background is concerned, I have been DJing for many years hosting Christian events called House Party. In the last year and half, I have been given the opportunity to DJ in my local church (Relevant Church). One of the pastors there invited me to DJ the worship service shortly after we began attending. Since that time, we have incorporated DJ led worship by using music from the decks before, after, during worship, prayer and communion times.

Elements of Worship

A girl prayingIf Re:fresh was to become a two-hour multi-sensory DJ led worship experience, creating an atmosphere where people could relax and come close to God was essential. To that effect, the stage was covered in candles. This was just part one element that help to build an atmosphere of worship. Some of the other elements included chill out / ambient music, video elements, an actual artist painting during the event, creative use of lighting (other than candles) and so on. Here are more detailed descriptions of each element:

Chill out/Ambient music

Spinning some of the latest and classic tracks to create an atmosphere of worship, led by DJ Race (John Rhaesa)


Vjing ambient visuals and scripture references to add another dimension to the worship experience, led DJ Jamin (Jamin Bradley)

Air Brush Artist

Clint Dunning from Haylo Clothing expressed his love for God by airbrushing

Clint doing the paint thing

a large mural. He also provided t-shirts for the DJ’s to wear during the event. www.hayloclothing.com.


Lighting help to created an atmosphere for worship throughout the evening with various lighting elements, led by DJ 9

Worship Guide

Guided and directed people through the worship stations for the evening, led by Hypostatic (Victor Minetola)

Interactive stations

The following six interactive stations/events made up the remaining elements of worship.

The Cross

The Cross

This was the first station of the night. People were asked to write on index cards using there finger and red tempera paint what was holding them back in there relationship with God. These cards were then nailed to the cross and left behind.


This station used scripture to form the shape of an eye. The font was extremely small and you had to use a rock that magnified the type to read the scripture. This was designed to help you refocus on what you see. From a distance you could see an eye, but as you looked closer you could read God’s word. God is everywhere in our lives if we just take the time to focus our attention towards him. Some examples of the scripture used included:

O magnify the LORD with me, And let us exalt His name together.
– Psalm 34:3

I will praise the name of God with song and magnify Him with thanksgiving.
– Psalm 69:30

Noise video

The Noise Video

At one point, we simply stopped all of the music and had complete silence for about 7 minutes as people read the text on the video screen. Teaching us that we need to intentionally take time and be still and spend time with God.


There were 12 loaves of bread in different shapes and sizes. Twelve different people from the dance community brought the loaves one at a time to Victor at the altar in the center of the dance barn. The bread was then formed into the shape of a man, whose body was then broken to serve communion.

Candlelight Worship

Everyone was given a candle as we closed the service with Your Love is Extravagant (Nate Manners - Unorthodox), The Sky (Cloud2Ground) and the I Love you Lord/Open My Eyes medley from (Nitro Praise 7).

The Worship Experience

Taking CommunionSo, what happened during the worship experience? Well, God showed up! In the beginning of the night I was a little concerned as some of the people who came expected a thumping dance event. That was a bummer but understandable since nothing like this had been attempted at the festival before. I just stayed on track with mission of the night. Halfway through the event the noise video began and complete silence fell over the entire crowd. It was an incredible experience. Think about it, you are at a festival of about 28,000 people and it was so quiet that you could hear a pin drop in the dance barn. It was at that point I knew people were getting it.

Taking part in Communion was beautiful. It was great spending time with God and breaking bread with our brothers and sisters in the dance community. As I reflected on the journey that led me to this place, I found myself caught up in the moment. I had to hold back the tears as I new I was in the presence of the Lord.

Candle light worshipI remember Jamin prophetically singing Lord Your Beautiful seconds before I dropped in the next track that said, “beautiful, everyone is beautiful.” He had no idea what was coming next. God was truly in control of the evening. It was at this point that I started to pray for the DJ’s and Live PA’s and the dance community.

We closed the evening around 3:00 AM while worshiping in the presence of God by candlelight. This was amazing. When the music stopped people just sat in silence and stillness because they knew they had been in the presence of the Lord.

What the Crowd Experienced

The evening really seemed to have deeply affected many of the people in attendance. Because of this, I thought sharing some of the comments from others in the dance community on their experiences from the evening would be a good idea.

“I was a little confused at first when I came to the chill out experience. When many of the people showing up who were expecting banging dance music and swiftly departed it made me wonder should I even stay.

WOW! I was in for a BIG surprise. I didn't know that God would use that event to target me. When I approached the first station I realized that I had a big barrier – DOUBT!

That evening opened my eyes to a reality I hadn't seen. I seem to not trust God as much as I thought I did. I held back my tears as I saw others post what was holding them back in their life - the sin and missing the mark. I viewed people posting everything from fear to lust.” — DJ Pat D

“I found the silence portion very convicting. Being a parent of three and seemingly always needing music on to accomplish tasks around the house. I find myself not listening for God's voice in the midst of all that is hectic.

What God spoke through Race with was so dead on about our situation in the body of believers in Christian Dance. Race did not even say a lot but it was exactly what I (as I am sure many) needed to hear that night.

The Worship night was very well done and the Holy Spirit was certainly there!

Our community of believers and the Body of Christ at large is hugely gifted and it is great to see our colorful expression through worship, art, and music.

I was very impressed! He gave us his best and we should try to do our best to return the favor!” — Brian Scroggins

“The silence time was the highlight for me. It was like being at an Electronic Jason Upton worship event.” — DJ Davo

“One thing that was cool from a Tastyfresh point of view was how we were trying to get the Tastyfresh people who were spinning or were involved with the dance community in some way to each bring a loaf out to build the bread man for [Communion]. The point was that we are each different; that we each bring different things to the table – but together we form the body of Christ… I started putting the body together. That's when I think the meaning of it really began to hit this group of ragamuffins. We may bicker about silly things online, but we all saw how united we really are that night. It was quite awesome, and I sensed God moving big-time – not just for Tastyfresh, but for everyone in the room. “ — Hypostatic (Victor Minetola)

"As the night grew I began to fall back behind more of the visual equipment, attempting to play images that corresponded with the song that was playing at the moment. John asked me to cue up one of the more moving moments of the night on DVD: The Silence Video. Not expecting to really be hit by it myself, I read the words that appeared on the screen in close to absolute silence. Being a very impatient person with silence, I began to realize how much God can speak through it. When it was over another personal miracle happened. Our band had been playing just before Cornerstone for a Vacation Bible School and on the day that I left, I lost my singing voice. And it remained that way until I grabbed the mic and broke out into spontaneous worship to God. God also amazed John and me when at the end of one of the songs I began singing about God's beauty and the next song unexpectedly was about being beautiful."— DJ Jamin (Jamin Bradley)

Making It Happen

Crowd at worshipLots of preparation had to be done to pull off an event as unique as this one. I spent about two months getting ready in various ways. I had led a Re:fresh Worship night at Relevant Church with Jamin and some other leaders in my church where we tried out some of the elements that were used in the worship night at Cornerstone.

Half of the night was spent testing out video, music and creative worship elements on the congregation. For me personally, compiling music and designing accompanying slides was the most time consuming portion of my preparation. Many hours were spent choosing music that would set the right tone for the evening. By the time all the music was transferred onto CD, there was approximately four hours of music. Backed with a few hours of music, I was equipped to spin in any direction I felt the spirit leading me.

Race leading worshipSearching, purchasing and compiling essential video elements took an enormous amount of time and energy. Bringing all these clips together and putting them on DVD made a huge difference. Mixing video and music live is a precise art. It can be very difficult and nearly impossible to pull off if you are not prepared. Props are key element in developing a mindset for the direction you wish to draw your audience into. A metal cross on a spinning turntable was chosen as such an element. The cross was backlit by a white radial pin spot. Candlelight was another element I incorporated into the event. The stage was draped floor to ceiling in thick black cloth and flickering tea lights lined the stage. Just entering the sanctuary you knew something special was about to take place.

I would have to say that spending time in prayer and have time alone with God is the most important step in preparing for such an event. Having that time alone with God can really put into perspective the purpose and the need for this type of worship.

Overcoming Challenges

Cross on displayOne of the biggest challenges was finding the last minute items we needed and the making of the cross for the station. Much of this had to be done at the event site rather than in advance for a variety of reasons. The people involved with the night worked together as a team coming together to make it work. The tasks were more than one person could do on their own due to the time frame. We just persevered until everything was done. Even though some people didn’t understanding what was going on, I prayed and persevered. I had to continue on the path I felt the Lord was leading me on.

What made it a success?

Four things made this a success:

  • The Holy Spirit – When God shows up it can be nothing but a success.
  • The Communion time – I felt God lay on my heart that this was important in the life of the community. Seeing the body of Christ come together and then break bread together was beautiful. It was an experience I will never forget. I felt a since of unity in Christ that night.
  • Teamwork – People worked together to help get the final details done.
  • Seeing people experience God for themselves.

In closing I would like to thank Chris Human, Cindy Tucker and Cornerstone for the opportunity to have a service like this. I could since God’s presence throughout the process. I was great to be part of God’s work. We must continue as a community to seek God and spend time with him.

The Palatable Gospel

Thank you Emergent Village for this article.

By Nic Paton: There’s a meme that has been doing the rounds, and this is the charge, primarily from the detractors of emergent spirituality, that its followers are compromising the Gospel in their attempts to make it “more palatable” to the world. Take for example, these comments critiquing the emergent POV: “the error … in the emergent church … [is] we become whatever the audience needs us to be in order to make the gospel palatable.” (Paul Edwards talking to John MacArthur) “Their hope is to make Christianity more palatable to the world” (Marsha West) There are a number of ideas inherent in statements such as these. Firstly, there is an admission that the gospel as normally presented might not be that palatable. However instead of directing the question towards themselves, the detractors aim it at Emergents. Instead of asking “What is wrong with my gospel?” they would rather say “Your gospel is wrong.” It hardly needs to be said that this posture is a matter of the splinter in the eye of another obscuring the log in one’s own. Then there is an assumption that Emergents (from their critic’s point of view) share the same “market space”, asking the same question but arriving at different answers. That the Emergents “bottom line” is selling tickets to heaven (and escaping hell). That they are part of the same framing story, but offer an alternative ending. That Emergents are using the same ingredients and cooking up a competing dish, instead of “Pizza Evangelista” they are offering “Pizza Emergente”. The very use of the term “palatable” reveals an assumption that spirituality is but a matter of “taste”, and by extension, attractiveness, to a targeted demographic, within a marketing paradigm. But it can be argued that this very paradigm is what Jesus referred to when he said “You cannot serve two masters … you cannot serve both God and Mammon”. Marketing is a matter of Mammon, while the Enterprise of God is often about losing market share, being unpopular, perceiving the potential in small “mustard seed” beginnings, and forgoing worldly profit for the eternal reward of obeying God and loving the world. To these detractors, Emergents are in competition for the market of “lost souls”, vying to retain a Christian following in a culture in decline. But that Emergents are doing it wrong — in giving up the Evangelical, Modern worldview, they have in effect rendered this gospel null and void. There is often very little appreciation amongst these voices that perhaps Emergents have a different vision of God and Gods purposes, and that is why the meal they serve tastes so fundamentally different. Rather than simply sweetening an essentially bitter pill, this vision might involve an altogether different understanding. In saying “You’re here to be salt-seasoning that brings out the God-flavors of this earth” [Matthew 5, The Message] it becomes apparent that God sees palatability not as compromise or unfaithfulness, but as a good and natural thing. To believe that that which is true must therefore be tasteless, unpleasant, unimaginative, gauche or dowdy is to deeply misunderstand the Lords Pleasure. It might be said that the call of the Gospel is to do the very thing that Anti-Emergents accuse us Emergents of: to allow by our worship of God, and our presence in Her Kitchen of Mission, the natural aromas of the creation to be savored and enjoyed by all. Another problematic assumption of the “more palatable” critique is the notion that “My presentation of the meal of truth is the only way it can be served. To serve the meal differently is to abandon truth”. “My truth” becomes synonymous with “The Truth”, rather than a view on Truth. This pernicious fantasy of modernity, an excessive overconfidence in our ability to perceive the absolute, is something that remains a stumbling block in creating a Christian spirituality that can take us forward beyond the decaying carcass of Christendom. As we have seen, the question of hypocrisy must be asked. What if those who accuse Emergents of compromise are themselves the compromisers? What if the charge that we are merely “making the gospel more palatable to our generation” is exactly what some evangelicals, fundamentalists, or Anti-Emergent’s, are doing? To those who prefer declaration over conversation, absolutes over contextualised truth, the literal over the metaphorical, the rational over the mystical, the individual over community, the conservative over the creative, the historical over the cosmic, I ask: Is your gospel of an ideal, absolute, holy, perfect (and punitive) God not simply pandering to the tastes of a generation who prefers individualised salvation, unsustainable material prosperity, a way of life which continues to violate the already disenfranchised, passive consumption over creativity, and continued exclusivism at odds with the loving, embracing God of Grace? Instead of Emergent’s diluting and compromising truth, perhaps it is the modernist understanding which is doing just that; allied with the World system, the Modernist gospel is becoming discredited: as spiritual food it is as best stale, and at worst, putrid. Yeuch; enough already. Pass the salt, please. “Look, everything is on the table, the prime rib is ready for carving. Come to the feast!” [Photo]Nic Paton—Postmodern Liturgist, multi-instrumentalist, VJ, and scullery theologian—lives in Cape Town, South Africa, and contributes to Emerging Africa.

Monday, June 29, 2009

An Industry of Worship

Bethany had shown this in our church about a year ago when we were doing a series on Worship. Rangerdave was kind enough to send it my way earlier today. Thanks you two! This video cuts my heart so deeply, mostly because I think it's true.

Song of Confession

B and I were talking a bit the other day on how there seems to be a lack of confession based songs in worship music. Not just in pop-worship, but in Hymnody as well. Here is a lyrical attempt to put our thoughts on this into action:

Merciful Father
We seek forgiveness
Confessing the sins of our hearts
Our thoughts words and deeds
the things left undone
Savior we fall to our knees

We've not loved you wholly
We've not loved our neighbor
We truly and humbly repent
Have mercy forgive us
That we may delight in
the glory of your name

Your love everlasting
You hold up the weary
Do not neglect those in need
Show now your glory
Lift up the lowly
Rain down your mercy today

Your Justice, move onward
Your Peace, fill our souls
Your Grace, fall on the earth
For we have forsaken
the lost and the weary
Forgive us bring us to our throne.

*Ideas from this were taken from the Confession at missionstclare.com's Daily Office.


I am picky about a lot of things. Music, food, clothing, the pillow I use every night, my hair and probably most of all, worship. When I think about it at first, it is a bit strange to be picky about something like worship. I mean, it's worship right? I go to church, worship the Lord a bit, take issue with the music or sermon, complain and move on with my day.

But when I think about it more, shouldn't we all be picky about worship? In Romans 1 I see that we are supposed to be presenting our body as a living sacrifice to the Lord, this isn't just on Sundays, but on a daily basis. If we are truly going to become burning flesh offerings to God Monday - Saturday, how much more should our corporate worship gatherings mean on Sundays? (This church on Sunday thing is only for the sake of the conversation, I would love having corporate worship on Saturday nights). My heart feels heavy on this topic when I think about communion. Think of it, you have the Physical Body of Christ uniting with the Mystical Body of Christ; isn't that a big deal? This is where I get picky, "No! You aren't doing it right!" Where is the thought? Where is the confession? Where is the recognition that, whatever your Christian preference, we are taking part in some sort of holy union with Christ? Not only that, but this is the Table, a representation of the Last Supper, an image of the eternal Heavenly Banquet that God has waiting for us.... not a drive-by-bread-n-juicing!

I believe that it is my responsibly, and the responsibility of us all, to take part in the corporate gathering of Believers, no matter how much it makes us wince sometimes. Whatever our particulars, however picky we may be, we need to gather together. This is also the reason why we have decided to launch this blog; because we are picky. We are all in different places in our journey and this is the place for us to be picky. Not picky in a way that we just complain like some one lacking from Vitamin D in their system could complain at the sun for not shining on them all day. Picky in a way that someone concerned with their health would exercise and take vitamins. I have never looked down on someone with a Vitamin D deficiency, but I have looked down on those who leave regular, milky, seeker oriented services full and ready to take on the world. This is wrong of me. We are all in different places and this blog is where all of those places can come and and find comfort and grow.

If you find yourself being picky, snobby, pretentious or wincing a lot in your walk, where do you supplement your growth? How do we get over this? Should we get over this? Let's talk.