God Sees Your Service

Even though I am not currently serving on a tech team, this post made me cry. Mike Sessler hit the nail on the head with this one and I wanted to repost it because it was just so good. His post is in between the separators.

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One problem with serving behind the scenes is that you are, by definition, invisible. Most of the time, we technical artists are OK with that.

A big part of the problem with serving behind the scenes is that you are, by definition, supposed to be pretty much invisible. Most of the time, we technical artists are OK with that. We’d rather not be the ones on stage, talking to the crowd; or even in a big room full of people if we’re honest. We like to be in the background, and that’s OK. But there’s a problem with being invisible.

We tend to feel invisible, too.

I’m sure it’s happened to you (and if it hasn’t, it will) on a Sunday afternoon that while you’re picking up the stage, eager congregants will come up and tell the worship leader, band and pastor what a wonderful job they did. They’ll go on and on about how much they love to worship, and how much they got out of the message.

This is all good. But it can sting a little, too. We know that we helped make the service happen. Shoot, we may have even made the band sound a lot better than they really are (reverb covers a multitude of sins, and sometimes turning down a guitar is better than turning it up).

We made sure the pastor’s slides were made—and displayed at the right time. All the mics worked exactly the way they were supposed to. The lighting complemented the music, and the service was technically excellent.

And nobody noticed.

Those are the times when we don’t enjoy feeling invisible. It was after one of those weekends that I happened to be reading through a passage in Mark 9. One verse in particular caught my attention and re-framed my perspective (the Bible is cool like that). I take comfort in the fact that God notices when people give a cup of water to someone in the name of Christ (Mark 9:41).

Surely he notices the hours we put in working on the mix, the lighting, or slides. No doubt he sees and is pleased with what you do each weekend.

Somebody does indeed notice.
So take courage, my fellow technical artist. Just a few verses later, Jesus reminds us that, “Many who are the first will be last, and the last first” (Mark 10:31).

Maybe, just maybe, those who received all the praise in this life will be surprised by the praise those who served in the shadows receive in the next.

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Usually when people notice us (technical artists), its to tell us something was bad, we made a mistake and/or the sound was too loud. Next Sunday, I challenge you to try and notice the good things. Take time and notice your church’s tech team every once in a while.

Send them a thank you card. Make them brownies. Bring breakfast early one Sunday morning. Notice something positive about the lights (something as simple as the pretty matching colors) or the sermon slides and thank them for their hard work. It would mean so much to us, even though we like being unnoticed and are naturally not drawn to the spotlight, we need encouragement from the body of Christ.

Church Bells.

“When I left, I loved Jesus, but I was tired of Christianity,” I said. “I tried to blame everything on the whole Christian subculture — but that isn’t fair. Here, I’ve learned that no one is my problem but me. Francis never judged the church, even when he didn’t like what it was doing. What right do I have to judge it? Spiritually, I just want something more.”

(pg 152 from “Chasing Francis” by Ian Cron)

We live in a culture full of cynicism.  We’ve seen the leaders that we trusted fall; we’ve seen the wizard behind the voice, and we were disappointed.  I have noticed with a lot of my friends that grew up in the Christian church that those who are reflective often have a particularly difficult time with not becoming jaded and cynical in the light of all of the visible hypocrisy and shortcomings. 

In fact, I know some people who have become so jaded that they freely spill it on others wherever they go.  It wasn’t enough for them to have lost their own song, it’s like they are trying to rob others of theirs as well. This is a song to the jaded – and not just the jaded in others but also the jaded in me.  A song inviting the listener to relax… let it go… and don’t spill your cynicism onto others.  Instead of allowing all of your unanswered questions to fully consume your joy, just enjoy the dance.  To me, that’s largely what faith has become. Yes, I have my doubts and questions and everything else, but at the end of the day, it’s not what questions I have in my mind but whether I’m going to join the dance or sit on the outside and sneer.  I’d rather dance. 

Musically, this song is scaled back quite a bit compared to others on the album.  The acoustic part is actually fairy difficult to play though.  It’s a 3-over-4 pattern that seems like it should be in a more complex song, but somehow it works for me with the simplicity of the song.  It helps it not be too kitschy with the song’s simple and almost childlike chord progression in the key of C.  It’s the complexity conforming to simplicity for the sake of the joy of the music.  That’s what this song is all about to me.

I originally was going to just have this song be vocals and acoustic, but John Arndt, who helped me with most of the string arrangements, was really hearing the strings and flutes coming in at the bridge, and I’m glad we went that way with it.  When those strings come in, I imagine the old man and the children all dancing in this innocent waltz-like circle together.

It’s also worth mentioning Jason Morant’s guest vocal appearance on this song.  I am so honored that he would do that for us.  He was a worship leader years ago, and one that I was quite inspired by, actually.  We were signed to the same label and went through a lot of the same experiences and even social circles. I’ve had meaningful conversations with Jason over the last year or two, and he has become a dear friend.  I wanted him to sing this song with me because we have dealt with some of the same issues and faced similar doubts and jadedness.  After recording this for us, he told me that singing this song was helpful for him. May our jaded hearts be healed, Amen. 

(from “Ghosts Upon the Earth” eBook by Michael Gungor)

Let church bells ring
Let children sing
Even if they don’t know why let them sing
Why drown their joy 
Stifle their voice
Just because you’ve lost yours

May our jaded hearts be healed
Amen

Let old men dance
Lift up their hands
Even if they are naïve, let them dance
You’ve seen it all
You watch them fall 
Wash off your face and dance

May our weary hearts be filled with hope
Amen

Inspiration.

“…all the beauty of the world, the beauty that calls our admiration, our gratitude, our worth-ship at the earthly level, is meant as a set of hints, of conspiratorial whispers, of clues and suggestion and flickers of light,all nudging us into believing that behind the beautiful world is not random chance but the loving God.”  (N.T. Wright, For All God’s Worth)

Multi-Sites and their Websites.

The multisite church revolution is not slowing down. More and more churches nationwide are choosing to launch new
campuses. Outreach Magazine stated that 75 of the 100 Largest Churches in America are multisite. Wow. I love when I find churches that have put their website as a priority in providing an easy user experience. Churches that use their website to provide value and accomplish missional goals is easier said than done. I have a couple of examples of some multisite churches that have provided inspiration for the best online solution for their church.

#1. Biltmore Baptist Church – Arden, NC

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Why I like it — Biltmore Baptist Church utilizes the “splash page” model. They ask users to pick a “default location” on their first visit. As you hover over each location, it displays when services are held, what the physical location is, and a link to Google maps. Everything you need before you even have to click a button. They also display a countdown that shows when the next service will go live. Easy. Simple.  Extremely helpful.

#2. Elevation Church – Charlotte. NC

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Why I like it — Elevation Church displays their various campus locations right there in the middle of the page. The Google Maps location finder is helpful, especially for first time visitors! I have learned that first time guests make up their minds about your church within the first 7 minutes from the parking lot to decide whether or not they are going to come back. The same principle applies to websites…except with websites that time slashes to seconds. 7- 30 seconds to capture the attention of first-time visitors to your website. If they can’t find the information they need, they’ll look elsewhere.

Leadership & Reflections.

  My reflections from 21 most powerful minutes in a leaders day by John Maxwell.

 The Law of THE LID — Leadership ability determines your effectiveness:

 1. In your leadership, have you been more like David or Saul?

As much as I would love to say that I am more like David, I can’t. I think I have been more like Saul. Because leadership ability determines a person’s level of effectiveness, I know my leadership ability is lacking in lots of ways, due to not only lids in my life but my lack of understanding the nature of leadership…just like Saul.

I have always thought leadership was just something you were born with and if you weren’t born with the right personality and attitude, there was no way you could ever become a great leader. But I am learning that this is totally a false way of approaching leadership, I have to want to change and grow in who God has called me to be, no matter what I think or feel; its time to improve myself consistently towards the next level…just like David did.

2. What lids exist in your life?

I am not a fan of this question. But I am sure that if I am truly honest, I could make a list the length of a football field but I will list the ones that have been floating around me for some time.

Fear. (…the unknown)

Insecurity. (…what others think about me and my leadership ability.)

Discipline. (…disciplining myself to learn and grow spiritually and demand improvement of myself.).

Initiative. (…being confident in creative ideas and taking the ‘dive’ whether others agree with me or not.)

Inexperience. (..my lack of experience because I am young.)

Denial. (…being confronted about a shortcoming or issue in my life and without confessing and praying about, deciding it’s not true about my life.)

Contempt. (…getting to a place where I don’t want to learn and grow as a leader.)

3. What lids can you lift?

I can lift all of the lids listed. For me, it’s going to have to start with my attitude and truthfully answering the hard questions to myself.

I cannot be a lid lifter if I am not willing to grow personally first.

4. Who are the lid lifters in your life?

I can feel that the list of lid lifters in my life is growing and I pray that I always have people to lift me up despite my shortcomings. I know that I can’t lift my lids on my own. I pray that I can be a lid lifter in their lives too.

5. Which one leadership concept, insight, or practice that you’ve learned this week will you pass on to another leader in the next two days?

Every leader has lids regardless of title, position, or achievement. I am going to lift the lids that I can on my own and be courageous and humble enough to grow through the encouragement and Biblical wisdom of those in my life who are lid lifters.

Rethinking My Purpose.

I’m one of those people who thinks a lot. Sometimes…well most of the time, about some really random things.
My recent thinking has brought to surface some things that I am dealing with when it comes to what my purpose is as a young, single, Christian woman. One word comes to mind…waiting.

Now, this word waiting is not a new thing in my life. I’m a 24 year old graduate student who has never been in a serious relationship. I’m at the point in my life where all my friends are getting engaged and married within the same calendar year…and let me tell you, it’s not easy.

Please don’t feel sorry me, just hear me out. Our Christian culture, I believe, places a great deal of emphasis on relationships. I have prayed for God to write my love story and have cried many nights over my lack of even experiencing a love story.

But even in knowing and having to be reminded daily that God is faithful and loves me more than anyone in the universe ever could…I still have faced, seen, heard, and felt an incredible amount of pressure from the Christian community towards relationships and ultimately marriage. Girls seem to always be praised when they have found their dream guy. But when they still have yet to find ‘’Mr. Right’’ or ‘’Prince Charming,’’ they are told that God’s going to bring a man into their lives —as if the sole purpose of their lives is to get married.

So, here’s the question I have been rethinking in my head…how do I respond to this? I know people ‘mean well’ and they ask because they love me (especially mothers, grandmothers and aunts) but how do I respond without sounding or feeling jealous or bitter?

I mentioned earlier that girls always seemed to be praised when they have found their dream guy and those of us who haven’t…well, we just haven’t.

I feel that Christian communities tend to be sometimes unsupportive of single women. It seems like the very people who should be inspiring us to live a life completely devoted to Christ are the ones who severely lower our self-esteem, which in turn leads us to believe that we need to be married to be complete.

I found a book on Amazon listed under ‘Christian and Religious Books’, entitled, Getting Serious About Getting Married. I was shocked to read,

The belief that remaining single is legitimate and godly is a work of the devil. Read that again: Satan dishonors marriage by fooling us into believing that singleness is okay (page 43).

…men and women who are not connected in marriage are like the mutilated members of a mangled body (page 28).

Wait?! What?! Did that just say what I think it said? This book is saying that there is no way for a woman to glorify God other than getting married.

Are you kidding? Messages like this can lead many Christian women to settle for men who are mediocre and self-centered, just so they can supposedly fulfill God’s will.

Single women should not let their lives be consumed by their apparent “need” to find a guy. We should be concerned with devoting our lives to Jesus and serving Him faithfully. There is a song by John Waller called ‘While I’m Waiting’. Let these lyrics be an encouragement for you:

I will move ahead, bold and confident
Taking every step in obedience
While I’m waiting I will serve You
While I’m waiting I will worship
While I’m waiting I will not faint
I’ll be running the race
Even while I wait.

My purpose is not to fall into a slump of misery if I haven’t found my dream guy yet. My heart should be enlivened and grow deeper in my relationship with God. If I happen to fall in love with a great man, oh how blessed that man will be! Haha! But he will find me as someone who is devoted to her Lord first and foremost. If I don’t, that’s fine too, because my relationship with God is enough and provides me with the everlasting fulfillment that no human relationship can. My singleness is a journey, not a trapped prison. It’s growing in my trust of the Lord and believing and knowing He has a plan for me. Rather single or married, it won’t matter.

Is singleness a blessing in your life? Is it a burden? How will you be rethinking your purpose?

Check out more from an awesome blog called Our Single Purpose

Culture, Carpenters, and Jesus.

I’ve been recently thinking about how we define our church culture. Only recently has this even been something of importance to me. I have always just been taught that the words “church” and “culture” don’t ever go together. Because we are to be “in” the world, not “of” the world. But lately, I can’t seem to get those two words separated. And I understand about that whole “in” and “of” the world thing. This is totally a different, deeper thing though. Here’s a quote I read sometime ago that has recapitulated itself in my head.

(Yes. I just used a musical term for repeating a phrase in a Sonata-form piece):

Culture is: “…the sum total of the ways we express ourselves and relate to each other in the institutions we build to express ourselves and relate to each other”. -Ron Martoia

The church is supposed to be salt and light in the community, right? We shouldn’t band ourselves in our buildings. Packing ourselves in our huge and mighty fortresses and castles, warding off “evil” is not our purpose. Shouldn’t we instead use our minds to embrace the grace and truth that is the Gospel message and have dialogue and build intentional relationships with those searching for it?

I believe we must engage the battle as soldiers, not willing to retreat, with the full armor of God.
The bible says this in Eph. 6:10-13:

“A final word: Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil. For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places. Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm.”

It clearly says “…for we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world…” I think many times the church misunderstands that to be that we are fighting against “flesh and blood”. Against each other. Against those who aren’t Christ followers. The church cannot impact culture by condemning it…we must show love and compassion, as Jesus did, only then will they see God’s grace and mercy.

(But when the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with such scum? When Jesus heard this, he said, “Healthy people don’t need a doctor—sick people do.” Then he added, “Now go and learn the meaning of this Scripture: ‘I want you to show mercy,
not offer sacrifices.’ For I have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners.” -Matt. 9:11-12)

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Do you ever wonder the reason Joseph was a carpenter? I mean why was Jesus’ earthly father a carpenter? Why not a fisherman? or a herdsman? a merchant? or even a doctor? Is there something there for us to see?

I thought about this and came to this (sort of) conclusion….

My grandfather is a carpenter. He makes tables, chairs, desks, boats, and even birdhouses. He can make what other specify they want, and also takes those chairs and tables and molds the idea into something original. But he also creates beautiful original things. He is extremely talented and has always enjoyed what he does. He’s a craftsman. An artisan.

Maybe God wanted us to look at our lives through the eyes of an carpenter…an artisan for a reason. Maybe with our lives we are artisans, but instead of showing off what ‘we’ create….we are displaying the creativity of God. Each of us are different and unique and through those differences in each of us God is glorified! I think the point is for us not to retreat or withdraw from culture…but to shape it through the story of Jesus.

What are your thoughts? Am I completely thinking too much or is this something you all have ever thought about as well?

A Different Lens.

Happy Thanksgiving!
Merry Christmas!
Happy New Year!
Its been quite sometime since my last post but I’m ok with that. A fresh start is always fun and exciting.
I truly believe this new year is going to be amazing!
I am taking the One Word 2011 challenge this year.
My one word this year is….
get ready….Surrender. My friend Katie Strandlund posted this January 1st about her One Word 2011. Her word was surrender. I gotta admit I thought: “Wow. She’s brave.” But..as I was reading God totally showed me that I needed surrender to be my One Word as well. It took a few minutes of whining, asking God for another word. Anything but surrender [and patience of course] but finally I had to, you guessed it, surrender to what God wanted for me.
First lesson of many to come. Now its on to a year of surrender.
Its gonna be extremely tough for me. But I know I can do with He who is always with me.

Katie put it so well that I have to quote it because it so amazingly describes me:

Surrendering fear of trusting, of risking, of dreaming
Surrendering my plans for action
Surrendering to risk and trust in relationships and community
Surrendering takes courage.

“I realized that at the root of all those other words was a common denominator. The reason I don’t risk, don’t dream, struggle with trust, resist relationships, shy away from true community, am afraid, fail to take action, and lack courage all comes down to one thing…me not fully surrendering everything I have and everything I am to the One who gave it all to me.”

I also want to share something that God showed me recently. We all know Psalm 23. We learned it as a kid in Sunday School. We sang “Jesus Walks” w/ Kanye about the the valley of the shadow of death
…but take a read at the first 4 verses:

The LORD is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
He makes me lie down in green pastures,
He leads me beside quiet waters, He refreshes my soul.
He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake.
Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil,
for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.

He leads me…He guides me…but there’s something else David says
“… He makes me lie down”. Makes me lie down? Wow. I never took a second glance at that phrase ’til recently. I am definitely looking through a different lens this new year. Could it be that God has to force us to lie down? Maybe in doing that, our eyes are able to see the green pastures in our lives.
Our eyes are looking through a different lens now that God has made us lie down. Praise God!

Why? Who?


Every time I find a cool video or read an article in Church Production Magazine, Collide, 8bit, Hillsong Collected, etc.
I am reminded of how awesome I am not. When it comes to making use of media around me as an effective tool in ministry, I’m no expert.

I am completely humbled when I hear/read about others in media ministry who know how to do so many things:

Constructing a contemporary worship space using lighting and visuals, launching an Internet campus, design a church logo, make a motion loop, shoot video on a green screen, build a website…….[don’t worry the list goes on]… produce a mobile app, podcast sermons, laying out and printing incredible mailers, run a digital mixer and light board, use presentation software to its full potential, and daily write some of the most hilarious and cunning blog posts that always seem to change the lives of 100’s if not 1,000’s of readers. Not to mention they do it with wise observations and biblical knowledge. Who can measure up to that?

I know I most certainly can become overwhelmed easily when it comes to trying to learn all of these things, but I just need to remember to keep my head up and my focus on the God.
Focus on why and who.

Why am I making motion loops? Why am I using presentation software? Why am I learning how to go about designing a church’s logo? Why am I incorporating visual worship during the service? Am I doing it so that the church will be considered the cutting edge church in town?
Am I using media to look “cool” to the younger generation of our area? Or do I sincerely want to draw people to God using these tools?

I’m finishing a book called Flickering Pixels: How Technology Shapes Your Faith, by Shane Hipps. This book takes you to deep into contemplating just how technologies we use can have such an effect on us. I’m gonna be honest and say that I don’t agree with everything Shane discusses but Its a great eye opener.

Well Shane talks a little about how technology is an extension of ourselves. [Like gun are extensions of our fist; Forks and knives, extensions of our teeth; cars are extensions of our feet; glasses are extensions of our eyes; smoke detectors are extensions of our sense of smell/security and telephones are the extensions of our voice/ear]. And the more we extend ourselves the more the world changes. It becomes an even a”smaller, smaller world.” So we have to be aware that as part of a creative media team in our churches or anywhere else for that matter…we are given the responsibility to draw people to Christ through this medium of technology. I’ve heard it said the methods always change, but the message stays the same. Continue reading

Instead of a Show.


In the course of time Cain brought some of the fruits of the soil as an offering to the LORD. But Abel brought fat portions from some of the firstborn of his flock. The LORD looked with favor on Abel and his offering, but on Cain and his offering he did not look with favor. So Cain was very angry, and his face was downcast. -Gen. 4:3-5

It wasnt Cain’s offering that God did not look on with favor, but his heart. His intentions. God doesn’t want us for what we can bring Him, rather He wants our hearts to be broken for Him. Our lives, from the inside out, to magnify the Father. Another verse in the book of Amos brings us back to this same concept. If we put the word festivals into context of today, I think it could be referring to how easily our selfish ambition this day in age to have state-of-art equipment and attend trendy conferences and gatherings can become an idol, in a sense. Lights, fog, songwriting, solos [instrumental/vocal/visual], new gadgets, lasers, environmental projection, IMAG…all of these things can easily become our ‘show and pretense’. God tells Israel quite frankly how He feels about how the idol of ambition has taken over what was meant to be sincere, heartfelt, broken, intimate worship:

I hate all your show and pretense—
the hypocrisy of your religious festivals and solemn assemblies.
I will not accept your burnt offerings and grain offerings.
I won’t even notice all your choice peace offerings.
Away with your noisy hymns of praise!
I will not listen to the music of your harps.
Instead, I want to see a mighty flood of justice,
an endless river of righteous living.-Amos 5:21-24

…but impurity of heart vitiated all their works, and this was the reason that God rejected every thing which the Jews thought available for holiness.

If you have never heard the song Instead of a Show by Jon Foreman {lead singer of Switchfoot}…take a couple minutes to listen to it.

One part that hit me was when it says:

…your eyes are closed when you’re praying;
you sing right along with the band;
you shine up your shoes for services
but there’s blood on your hands;
you turned your back on the homeless
and the ones that don’t fit in your plans
quit playing religion games
there’s blood on your hands…

Wow.
you sing right along with the band {lifting up our hands unto God}.
But there’s blood on our hands…
We seemed to have it all figured out, right down to the shiny shoes.
But there’s blood on our hands.
Blood on our hands…

Contemplating on this for awhile…