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.