Worship like it's 2008

I’ve been thinking a lot about worship music.  I just read a blog post about how worship is all the same.  It wasn’t eye opening.  I already knew that.  But his point was that worship sounds like Coldplay and U2, which isn’t bad, but those artists aren’t pushing big numbers on the charts today.  He made the point that we need to catch up and shift with current trends.  I don’t disagree, but I kind of do.  

I think that we should try to be pushing forward.  New sounds.  New genres.  Right now we are just playing catch-up.  Hillsong’s newest albums are good, but they sound like albums from a few years ago.  Elevation is awesome, but they aren’t breaking any molds.  This whole Christian music culture is just chasing the coat tails.  We can’t even ride the coat tails though, we are not close enough.  

I predict that so many Mumford and Sons rip off worship albums will come out next year.  I mean, Phillip Phillips ripped them off this year, so Christian music can’t be but 1-5 years behind him!  

What can we do?  Well, we need to try.  I don’t know how we succeed, but doing nothing is not the right answer. 

See, I’m the worst example of this.  At church, we sound closer to Elevation than any other specific artist, but that means we are copying a copy.  It really starts losing quality.  At NCU we sounded a bit like Hillsong with attempts to be Gungor-esque.  Gungor is closer than Hillsong to original, but still, their worship songs aren’t very ground-breaking.

Today I sat down and started working on an electronic worship sound.  Think Skrillex with less talent.  I’m trying, but it’s still me trying to sound like something that isn’t my own.  I feel like I have no originality right now, and that is frustrating.  But, I do think you will hear some dubsteppish worship out of me in the near future.  

Thoughts?  How do we fix this trend?

...and I'm back

I'm not sure what to write about.  I'm still working through the loss of two of the finest people I've ever known.  I'm working on my MBA.  I'm working at Hope Chapel as Worship Pastor.  I'm working on a lot of things. 

What I want to be doing is shepherding people.  I want to be helping my friends and church family grieve and recover.  I want to be done with school.  I don't always get what I want, so I need to be better with what I have.  

There are no grand revelations in this post, just a little venting of built up steam.  But I'm back.  I'm ready to write.  

Up next:  Worship Music - Now, only 5 years behind!

 

 

Worship...

As I journey through being a worship leader, I wanted to bring some close friends along with me.  Sam Koekkoek and Chelsea King are going to be posting their thoughts as we go through the next 16 weeks together.  You can find their journals above, in the menu.  It will be a fun way to capture our experiences leading worship and journeying through this season together.  Check them out!

Don't Judge Me!

I spent the past two weeks at Cascade Christian Camp and Wi-Ne-Ma Christian Camp.  I had an amazing two weeks!  There were new friendships and new inside jokes (hey girl) to go along with them.  Even though I had to drive 10 hours out to Cascade and then 2 hours to and from Wi-Ne-Ma, and even though I missed my wife for 2 weeks, it was a wonderful experience that I would gladly do again!

As I was meeting with my family group (small group) at Wi-Ne-Ma, we hit a rough topic:

Judging.

My wife and I always joke that we are really good at judging because we are Christians: it’s our job.  Joking aside, we are a judgmental group.  The question is, should we be?  

People often say “Don’t judge me,” or “only God can judge me,” or “who are you to judge.”  The implications of these statements are that judging is bad.  

Then I saw a post about Chik-fil-A, stating that supporters of the fried chicken sandwich fast food joint were disobeying Jesus’ very words “do not judge” by being judgmental homophobes.  (I promise I will post about this phrase and homosexuality and Chik-fil-A at another time)

This all got me thinking: did Jesus really say "don’t judge?"

I mean, yes, He did.  But did He mean it?  Is that in context?  If so, why?  If not, why?  

In Matthew 7:1, Jesus does clearly state, “Do not judge,” but the verse doesn’t end there.  He goes on to say “so that you will not be judged, for in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you.”  

That sounds much more like a call to be careful about how we judge.  If I judge someone, I better make sure that I am clean of that sin too.  Jesus is saying that we will be held to the same standard we hold others to.  That is a dangerous standard to live up to for most of us Christians.  

So, if Jesus says to be careful how we judge, that must mean we can judge!  Hooray!  

Wait.  Paul wants to speak on the subject.  He always has something to say.  Usually a bit controversial.  He’s a little Driscoll mixed with Bell.  

What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? 
-1 Corinthians 5:12

Paul is saying here that judging people outside the church is not our job.  (He may have taken that straight out of my last post.)  

Jesus gives us guidelines on how to judge.  Paul says who we can judge.  Each other!

So, we are to be careful on how we judge, because the standard we judge by will be applied to us.  And the standard should only be applied to fellow believers. 

This applies to judging each others actions, which can be anything from bullying fellow believers to turning off entire groups of people to the message of Christ.  Anything that in anti-kingdom is worthy of judgment.  However...

Judgement of a persons heart ultimately belongs to God.  Paul clears that up in Romans 14:12-13: 

“So then, each of us will give an account of himself to God.  Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in your brother's way.”

I conclude this:  

We are to judge the actions of other Christians as it pertains to the furthering of the Kingdom.  (I’m looking at you Westboro)  

We are not to judge the heart of the person perpetrating the wrongs. (I guess I’m looking at you again, Westboro)

I Don't Care

I’m beginning to use this phrase a lot more.  When someone asks me about the:

Presidential elections -  I don’t care  

Guns -   I don’t care  

Legalization of drugs -  I don’t care

Taxes -   I don’t care

Almost anything political is met with this phrase now.  I mention this, because it’s new.  I was not always like this.  I used to care immensely.  

-Here is where I divulge an embarrassing fact-

I’ve never done drugs (not the embarrassing part).  Not because I thought it was wrong (which I do), but because I wanted to be a politician and I thought that would hurt my chances.

Now you know. 

But, what’s become more and more clear to me is that our country's politics are just not that important.  I’m downright tired of hearing about them!  Now, this is not to say there are no important issues.  I believe strongly that abortion is wrong.  I also believe that human trafficking is terrible.  I think human rights and equality are huge issues.  I think homelessness and poverty are real issues.  The problem is, they are not political issues, but moral issues.  

We search and search for a way to legislate these issues, but that falls apart so quickly.  For a Christian, it is easy to say that these issues are wrong because we believe in a God that created.  With that creation, there is dignity and beauty.  We should respect the dignity and beauty that God put in each human.  

As long as we are on the subject, I believe God created the earth and everything in it and therefor the planet is to be treated with respect as well.  We are to bring wholeness to the planet, not trash it further.

But, as I said, this should be easy for Christians to gather from the Bible.  This, then, is where legislation falls apart.  We are trying to legislate for all what can really only be appreciated through the theistic lens.  If there is no God or creator, then what constitutes our morality.  If I believe in evolutionary naturalism (bear with me on this, I will get into my beliefs on “the beginning” more in other posts), then there is nothing stopping me from dominating another human or killing him just to get ahead.  This is how it’s done in the animal kingdom.  If that is my only outlook on how life works, where could morality come from?  Really, any other argument for morality falls flat.  

Which brings me back to why I don’t like politics anymore-

If we are at the point of legislating something, we have already failed.

I like to use the example of welfare.  People get fired up about welfare.  Both conservatives and liberals.  It’s a hot button issue.  It should make all Christians angry.  We, the church, are forcing the government to do what we were commanded to do.  Feed the hungry, clothe the poor, and house the homeless.  Matthew 25:35 doesn’t say, “For I was hungry and the government gave me food, I was thirsty and food stamps gave me drink, I was a stranger and the shelter welcomed me”

It is our job.  If we keep neglecting our duty as Christians, we will be having to legislate a lot more in the future.  

"Politics are not the task of a Christian."
-Dietrich Bonhoeffer

The Role of the Woman

I hear a lot of Bible-centric pastors talk about the role of women as the submissive.  I feel like they have missed the point.  

To the woman he said, "I will surely multiply your pain in childbearing; in pain you shall bring forth children. Your desire shall be for  your husband, and he shall rule over you."    -Genesis 3:16

The beginning of patriarchy and complementarianism was in the garden of Eden for sure.  There can be no doubt of this.  My question is in regards to how it came about.  In this verse God is handing out the curse on Eve.  The curse, then, is basis for the subordinate role of women.  

What is our goal as Christians?  Are we not in the business of bringing wholeness back to the earth?  Tikkun Olam?  Repairing the World.  If the world was without flaw before the fall, shouldn't we be repairing back to that?  

Before Jesus was even on the scene, Rabbi's taught that it was our role to help repair the world with the creator.  Instead of seeing the history of the world as a never ending down slope, they saw the fall as a drop off a cliff right to the base of a taller mountain.  We are to be climbing up.  Repairing the brokenness of the fall.  

If we were really concerned with being Biblically accurate, we would have to accept that Jesus elevated women to a role in the church and in daily life that was never even considered before.  Women were the first witnesses to the resurrection in a society that didn't count females as legal witnesses.  Women were disciples, teachers, apostles, and even authors.  

All this to say:  If women were equal before the fall, then the curse should be something we fight to repair.  Jesus seemed to see it that way...

Finding/Losing Faith

I find myself at a strange point in my life...  I am continually refining and growing in my faith in Christ.  I'm also losing my faith in Christians.  I don't want this to be the case.  I think we have two options as followers of Christ:  

1.  Sit back and complain about the narrative that some Christians are telling about our faith

or

2.  Change the story ourselves

I hope to change the story.  This will be an account of my journey into the issues and matters at the heart of Christianity.  To get to the heart of the issues, I will have to trudge through the trivial matters as well.  Let the journey begin!

Jeff