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.

My Go-To Books.

communications_gotolist

A lot of my learning I gained from reading books and learning from others.  I created this list of books for anyone involved in not only church communications, but ministry in general. Each of these books will definitely help you communicate your church’s vision and message with intentionality, with simplicity, and overall with effectiveness. I know they have definitely helped me.

–> Check out My Go-To List of books <– What books would you add? 

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

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

Mentoring.


When I saw this comic, I chuckled. To be honest, I have always thought of mentoring as something that was ‘Out of this world’ in terms of amazing and important. Something only reachable for those who do things that as ‘out of this world’. I’ve always heard of others in ‘mentoring programs’ for pastors, politicians, or business owners. But let me be the first to say, I am wrong to even think that. Mentoring is crucial.

We each have people in our lives who have are best interest at heart. They push us. Push us to do better. People who are good at pushing us are everywhere, good or bad. They can use love and kindness or they can use fear and confusion. Same goes with using grace or guilt but the cool thing is many times the end result is the same….we’re better. Somehow we do better.

I have always had people in my life that push me. Since elementary school I’ve had people around me to push me on both sides. Good. Bad. Now my only set back is that I can be pushed all day long, but its not going to change me as a person. I can DO something different because someone pushed me or motivated me to do it, but at the end of the day…I haven’t changed myself. I haven’t become better.I need someone in my life to challenge me to become better. Now don’t get me wrong, I think I’ll always have people to push me. I need that. I need pushers, influencers, motivators.

But let me say that everyone should pray that God will lead us to a person who can be a mentor. I know that here I am talking about people needing to be mentored and I myself do not have a mentor in my life.

Yet.

But the least I can do is start pouring into others lives. To challenge.
To love. To support. To pray for. To teach. To Push. To motivate. To accept. To mentor. A mentor not only pushes us to change, but they cause us to become better people.

Now, since I do not have a mentor in my life right now, I have come up with a short answer to the question, “What do you look for in a mentor?”

I’m only going to list a couple things because some things are obvious (like godliness, caring, passionate, trustworthy, faithful):

*Authentic–Being genuine is so important to me. To everyone I believe.
Just be legit. [go ahead…”step to the rhythm of a sho-nuff winner(winner); I been here before, i ain’t no beginner(word)”] =)Name that tune.

*Accessible–Some mentors have to be put into different categories, but ultimately I think being available is important. If your going to mentor someone, make sure are able to physically meet. Don’t have people struggle to get lunch with you. I’m not saying drop everything you have to do, but keep up with it. Doesn’t have to be everyday or even every week, but be intentional about making them a priority.

*Experienced (doesn’t necessarily mean ‘old’ though)–I want to learn. Others want to learn. From your experiences. Things that have worked for you and things that have completely bombed. And in your experiences, God has kept you teachable and has brought you through to mentor and tell others your journey.

*Humility–Basically, humility in and of itself will not only attract others to you, but will fuel these other qualities.

So there you have it. whew! That was some short answer…[sorry if you were expecting one or two words.]

I can only hope that I can say that my mentor(s), has caused me to BECOME someone different, or that someone could say that about me.

The most believable person in the world is the person who you know has your best interest at heart. -John Dickson

So true.

How about you? Are there influencers and motivators in your life? Has God placed a mentor in your life? If he hasn’t, start praying and ask God to show you who you could begin mentoring. They will become a different person as a result of your intentional, loving involvement in their life.

Mentor. Mentor. Mentor.

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.

Now Showing. Entertainment For Your Everyday Church.


Am I now trying to win the approval of men, or of God? Or am I trying to please men? If I were still trying to please men,
I would not be a servant of Christ -Galatians 1:10

Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about entertainment. I work at our local Gamestop and last week, as I’m sure many you know, was the release of one of the most anticipated games of the year. Halo: Reach. Now I personally haven’t played any of the Halo series, but I do love the soundtracks. I own the Halo 2 and Halo: Reach soundtracks. {Yeah, I’m a nerd for film soundtracks and had to get Halo Reach cause its so good.} Anyway, Halo: Reach tallied at $200 million on launch day. $200 million. Now why is it that people purchase video games, movies, music, etc?
For Entertainment.

So…I looked up entertainment and found that it is often defined as something affording pleasure, diversion, or amusement. Whether that’s attending a sporting event, concert, or movie, we go to be entertained. We are spectators of a performance. Unfortunately in some churches, visitors could easily confuse a worship service with a concert or theatrical show. Now when I say this, I don’t mean ”let’s completely eliminate different types of performance art from worship services”. We just have to be careful of the use of them. We need to ask ourselves questions [Who? Why?]. The more priority we put on entertaining instead of involving our congregations and inviting them into worship, the more we develop an entertainment worship. We end up making spectators instead of true worshipers.

I found this quote and was sadly brought to the realization of how entertainment in our churches is becoming more visible.

“We are not producing worshipers in this country. Rather, we are producing a generation of spectators, religious onlookers lacking, in many cases, a true encounter with God, deprived of both the tangible sense of God’s presence and the supernatural relationship their inmost spirits crave
.”—Sally Morgenthaler

It’s sad, but true. Entertainment is for pleasing the human eyes/ears…but worship is for pleasing God. Worship is for giving God the honor and praise He deserves. When worship services happen just to please the ears of the congregation rather than the heart of God, then how dare we call it a worship service. In the book of Amos, God deals with a similar problem with Israel [Instead of a Show].

Oh, brother or sister, God calls us to worship, but in many instances we are in entertainment, just running a poor second to the theaters. That is where we are, even in the evangelical churches, and I don’t mind telling you that most of the people we say we are trying to reach will never come to a church to see a lot of amateur actors putting on a home talent show.”
-A.W Tozer

Ouch.
I admit it. Sometimes my motives for wanting to incorporate technology in our services have been purely for cool factor. For relevance. For entertainment.
[Great post from Tim Schraeder about seeking relevance in the church today and where its taking us]

On the other side of the spectrum, sometimes I’ve felt like there may be about 10-15 people worshiping God while everyone else watches the performance of the praise team putting on an amateur talent show. I think the fact that we have stages, lights, and cameras all over the place gives the feeling of SNL or Broadway productions. Maybe we need to get rid of stages, lights, and cameras? Maybe not. Maybe its just the atmosphere we orchestrate? Maybe we have a distorted view of true worship and need to understand it for what it is?

Worship is beyond music. It is our response to God, in all that we do [1 Corinth. 10:31], because of who He is. I believe once we understand true worship, we can learn how to lead in worship.
I can’t remember where I found this online, I wanna say maybe Camron Ware and/or Stephen Proctor, but I just had it saved in a text file on my desktop and wanted to share it with you:

We need to take a step back and reevaluate the purpose behind our worship services. We need to ask ourselves why we do what we do. In beginning this process, I see four important steps:

Understand Worship—Unfortunately, many of us have an incomplete or skewed view of true worship. Worship extends far beyond music; it is our continuous response to God, in all that we do, because of who He is. A proper understanding of worship will shape how we lead our congregations.

Check Our Hearts—While our intentions in using entertainment in our services can be pure, we must constantly check our motives—we are all capable of placing our confidence in manmade things. As we incorporate music into our services, we should ask ourselves these questions:
• What purpose does this song serve in our time of worship?
• What does the song have to say about God and us?
• How is this song drawing people to the Lord?

Know Our Congregations—Every church is unique, so no one formula works for all churches. Just because a church in Seattle worships in a particular manner doesn’t mean it’s the right formula for our church. We must know what engages their minds, speaks to their souls, and enables them to participate in worship.

Pray—While this last point may sound cliché, it is of great importance. Leading our congregations in worship is not a minor task. Left to our own devices, our worship times can become about us. We must be in constant prayer, asking for the Lord’s guidance as we seek to serve and worship Him.
……………………..

I believe there is so much truth in this. These four things are crucial and we need to constantly be reminded of them. I think I’m gonna write them down on index cards and place them in the different places I go to around my church.

I recently had to write a two page paper for a class. The topic was my philosophy on technology in the church. I want to share with you a bit of what I wrote:

Technology isn’t something new. We have always been advancing and discovering new forms of technology. I believe that we can explore past uses of technology and media in the church to better help us understand and communicate the message of Christ, His death, and resurrection. Using history to guide us is a great tool. It can tell us what people in the past have found to be useful and have been able to better develop into what we use today. I believe technology in the church can be used to develop ministries and express God’s truth through media to better prepare us for reaching others. Technology can help us see God’s story woven within our culture and make it easier for us to share that story with those around us. Different ministries reach different people. Ultimately, technology in the church is not about the stuff you have. It’s not enough to just be the “cool” technologically state-of-the-art church. It’s about the people. It’s about glorifying God with our creativity. It’s about looking through rather than reflecting back. The reason we put and use all this stuff is to reach people. To draw people towards God. To open a window to a lost and broken world that needs the church to be the body of Christ, showing His grace and mercy. I read in an article recently that said the cause of the local church is the cause of Christ. Through technology, the church can create ways to lift up that cause. When there is new Kingdom-impacting technology on the horizon, I believe with lots of prayer and discussion, the church should go for it. Not wait around for others to follow in a trend, but go for it for the cause of Christ.

Let’s pray that the church would increasingly give rise to passionate worshipers of Christ, rather than mere spectators of transient entertainment.

Let’s not expand this trend of being spectators, but rather be worshipers the Father seeks.

Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks.-John 4:23

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…