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.

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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)

Pursuing Christ. Creating Art.

PURSUING CHRIST.CREATING ART. from Floodgate Productions on Vimeo.

One of the partners at Floodgate Productions (Gary Molander) has written a book for artists who are also pursuing a life of faith in Christ. Head over to GaryMo.com for more information.Pursuing Christ. Creating Art. is a series of faith-based explorations into the overlap between life as a Christ-follower, and life as an artist. It's going to be an AMAZING read and I look forward to writing my contemplations about Gary's new book. About our Creator, faith, creativity, art, life, and everything in between.

So go and pre-order Gary's book, Pursuing Christ. Creating Art. It's going to be great and I'm confident that God has placed this on Gary's heart for His purpose....for such a time as this.

Clear the Stage.


Clear the stage and set the sound and lights ablaze,
if that’s the measure that it takes to crush the idols.
Chuck the pews and all the decorations too, until the congregations few then have revival. Tell your friends that this is where the party ends, until you’re broken for your sins you can’t be social. Then seek the Lord and wait for what he has in store and know that great is your reward and just be hopeful.
-Ross King

I was talking with a friend, in our schools coffee shop, about what I had been learning and contemplating lately and how I blogged about entertainment in church. Well we got into great discussion about it and he mentioned this song by Ross King called Clear the Stage. I had never heard it before and so I went and listened to it. Wow.
I encourage all of you who have never heard this song to stop right now and listen to it.

Well recently, we had a See You At The Pole rally for local youth groups to join together in a time of worship and fellowship. When I got there, I noticed that all the lights were off in the auditorium (we were able to have it at our local high school) The band that would be leading us in worship was doing a sound check but I couldn’t see them. So I went backstage and saw that they were behind the stage curtain. I know these guys because we all go to school together. Anyways, I asked them, ”Do you guys need the lights on? And the curtain up so the kids can see you? I’ll go up and take care of it if you need me to.”

To my awesome surprise they said, ”No. We all felt led to have everything silent tonight. Our focus is going to be on prayer and true worship. We don’t want backgrounds behind the text or lights on or to be seen. We want to worship back here as well and lead the kids to worship God for who He is and what He has done.”

It was so great to here that! 🙂 These guys get it. (I go to a school where there are many aspiring Christian artists/bands. They are all very talented, but none of them have I ever seen or heard mention anything like this. These guys just want to worship and lead others in worship and I’m blessed to call them friends.)

They wanted to have true worship as a band, as well as give the kids an understanding of what worship is and isn’t. We all prayed together backstage for the worship gathering to glorify God and for the kids to truly know that worship isn’t about the stage or singing, but living a life of worship.

So the rally went on with about 5 different prayer topics and songs that went along with them. We had a speaker (or rather facilitator) that was to lead in scripture and prayer. (he was the one who made it flow.) With each prayer topic the kids where given different instructions, the first was to be in alone time prayer, the second topic with 2 or 3 people, third topic with 2 or 3 different people, and to finally end with your youth group to pray for unity and commitment.
The youth were to pray about:

1. Repentance
2. Government
3. Schools
4. Friends who know and don’t know Jesus
5. Unity and Commitment

It was amazing! God worked in the hearts of all the youth groups there. I prayed with and saw kids praying together with such a fervent heart for God. They didn’t need fancy lights, loud music, cool/fast worship backgrounds, or even to see the band who was leading. They truly praised God for who He is and what He’s done for them. And I hope and pray they truly learned something.

I pray they learned that they needed to have a repentant heart.
I pray they learned that anything they put before God is an idol.
I pray they saw that they needed to pray on their knees until they blistered.
I pray they learned that worship is more than a song.

Clear the stage and set the sound and lights ablaze
If that’s the measure you must take to crush the idols.

Stephen Proctor tweeted this earlier this week that was right on with what I felt at that rally, (I asked to turn on the lights and I wanted to get the perfect background for the gathering and set it up right. But these guys already had it right. So naturally, and I retweeted it Proctor’s post 🙂
it said:

Are you willing to die to your artistic pride in order for your community to come along further in the journey of worship? Something to think about…for all of us.