God Is... our Identity
With Us Hillsong
Our King Has Come Elevation
Nothing is Wasted Elevation
All Things New Elevation
sorry, no auto-tune for us.
Wednesday, I re-posted a blog from James MacDonald about soteriology vs. doxology as the driver of church mission and structure. Here are my thoughts as it pertains to profiles:
The first thing I think, rather than just theory, are church examples.
Observation #1: I've evidently really studied and visited soterios churches moreso than doxa churches.
Observation #2: Are our stereotypes correct?
Sometimes. Not all the time. And- I don't think I know well enough at this point of study to draw definitive conclusions- just suppositions.
Here's what I mean in some profiles:
I've visited Hillsong NYC. I have a mancrush on Hillsong, and have watched their worship leaders in what I see genuinely pursue God for years- I would consider them a doxa church, actually.
Now, when I was there, an associate who I won't name was there teaching. I'm very hesitant to write anything negative here- so suffice it to say it was not as Biblically rich as I'd have hoped. I root them on, and consider that to be an exception there, not the rule.
I've visited the Brooklyn Tabernacle. Fresh Wind Fresh Fire changed my life when I was 17, and even though their church style is about as different from me as you can get- I loved that church and would attend there. It was like a foretaste of heaven- unity in diversity, joy, great Biblical teaching- simple, yet let the Word speak for itself. Doxa.
I've visited Northpoint Church. One of the primary models of the soterios church. I loved it. I was inspired. Deep worship? That's not what they are trying to do- it was two songs and done- because the thinking is all through the grid of what people who haven't yet trusted Christ would be touched by. Which I respect... but is that where the church is supposed to stay?
I think Northpoint is worth studying. I respect what they are trying to do. Are they growing? For sure. Are people becoming deep followers of Christ? I don't know. Either way. We sure have a lot to learn from them- my wife and one of our staff members are headed there next week to learn.
I've visited Newspring Church. The ones famous for covering ACDC and Van Halen during service. Perry Noble has this way of saying about anything and getting away with it. I visited Newspring expecting it to be way aggressive only, and I was wrong. I loved Newspring. I actually saw them minister with a broad brush- trying to reach all kinds. I saw lots of "blue hairs" in the audience as well as college age. My wife and one of our staff members are headed there as well, in part because I insisted on it- I could attend Newspring.
However, almost every teaching series is "Pump it Up" or "House Party" or "Unleashed." Now, that's intentional- they are soterios, trying to see people trust Christ. I respect that. I loved Perry's teaching. Would I stay in that teaching mode exclusively? No.
I've visited Elevation Church several times and have contacts there. They've been so helpful for us, giving us tours, answering questions, training production guys- even to the point of giving us their phone numbers so I can ask questions. Terrific guys.
I think Elevation, although I would consider them a soterios church, to be most middle-of-the-road. They are much more doxa than meets the eye. They seem to me to engage intentionally and aggressively people who need Christ- yet truly worship and set the stage for deep things. I would absolutely attend Elevation- them, Newspring, and Brooklyn Tabernacle were my favorites.
I've never been to Harvest Bible Chapel, although I've read James MacDonald's writings. They are inspiring and I see such a pure heart. I wasn't as receptive to him watching Elephant Room- but there is such a purity of heart in Vertical Church you can't help but love the guy.
Even in the beginning of the book, he wrote: "getting people back to church is pointless unless God comes back first... many iterations are all horizontal substitutes for God come down, we all get rocked and radically altered, Vertical Church."
My detailed thoughts will come later- but for now- even as a worship leader, comparing the two-
Can you have your cake and eat it too?
Depends on what your cake is.
I'm really excited for this new song at Western Reserve- Nothing is Wasted.
We're speaking this weekend on God's Sovereignty- this song has meant a lot to me in understanding God's sovereign hand in my life and how he has brought redemption. Check out these lyrics- I pray they move your soul as you consider God's faithfulness and sovereignty in your life.
You know my every need, You see my poverty
You are enough for me, Jesus
You gave the blind their sight, You raised the dead to life
You've done the same for me, Jesus
You are loving, You are wise there is nothing in my life You cannot revive
You are loving, You are wise there is nothing too hard for our God
Your Word inside of me, my strength my everything
My hope will always be, Jesus
Your breath inside my lungs, You're worthy of my trust
You will forever be, Jesus
Nothing is wasted You work all things for good
Nothing is wasted Your promise remains, forever You reign
In the last month now, we've been putting entire services online. Check one out here.
I love watching entire services- admittedly, because I learn and it gives me ideas. Seeing how songs work, worship leader transitions (we've all experienced-and I've even led-awkward transitions that are like an old John Deere tractor trying to downshift).
We wanted to start posting our services, not because we think a lot of ourselves, that's not the heart behind it- God's ruining in my heart the desire to be successful- but to bless the church, encourage other churches, and benefit our own team.
I saw on FB today a young lady in our church who's sick write- "I'm bummed to miss church today because I'm sick, but thanks to the staff at WR I can watch the whole service online). We've also had several requests to start doing this in the last year. I love that we get to serve our people- that in itself is enough to do this- it's what we're about!
We've had a few other churches bring teams to learn from our production teams and band- I'm kind of humbled by this, I'm certainly nothing special- although my team is- but I know how much I've benefited by watching others. I think I've taken a tour with the Elevation guys like 4 times now. Asking questions, watching from a distance weekly- it's so helpful. I've got a real heart to invest in young guys who are learning. However we can help, I'd love to.
Lastly, it's having a real impact on our worship and production teams. We have around forty people on these teams- some are on weekly, others around every 8 weeks. That means that it's tough to keep everything going the same direction.
Live sound is so much more forgiving than recorded. Weekly, I listen and think (hey, not bad...) or (ew, that's ripe). It drives me to practice more and put more detail into everything I do, and it's having that impact on everyone on our teams. That's part of the idea- it ups the ante- you need to be ready, because if your part stinks, it'll be out there for a long time. The only post-production we really do is a post-mix by Brian McMahon and Christian DeLaat each Sunday afternoon- then I match with video, and we're up (that's the readers digest version). If our teams can hear and see themselves- it helps you improve.
Our heart isn't to be slick, flashy, or full of ourselves- the word "production" can obviously be linked to that idea- but rather, we're trying to be excellent. Excellence inspires people and honors God. We're trying to take the next steps.
I'm so proud of our worship and production teams. I'm thrilled to be with them, and doing this thing together.
We're learning with recording and video production- we'd love to hear your feedback. Check out a service and let us know! We hope it blesses you!
"People are far more interested in what works than what's true. I hate to burst your bubble, but virtually nobody in your church is on a truth quest. They are on happiness quests. As long as you are dishing out truth with no here's the difference it will make tacked on the end, you will be perceived as irrelevant by most of the people in your church. You may be spot-on theologically, but you will not be perceived as one who teaches with authority. Worse, nobody is going to want to listen to you.
Culture is like the wind. You can't stop it. You shouldn't spit in it. But, if like a good sailor you will adjust your sails, you can harness the winds of culture to take your audience where they need to go. Jesus did.
You've studied the Sermon on the Mount. Surely you know the term Jesus uses over and over can be translated happy. But even if you are more comfortable with the term blessed, think about what Jesus does at the beginning of his message. Who doesn't want to be blessed? He plays to their human nature, and then, one by one, he challenges their most basic assumptions about... well, everything!"
Andy Stanley, Deep & Wide
I'm thinking of how this dynamic plays out, for better or worse, with worship leading.
Honestly? For a long time, I've thought this:
I don't care for the way "church" happened in my past. Others must feel the same. If I build something different, that will minister to folks.
Now? I don't know that my thoughts were accurate. Well intentioned. Maybe rebellious at times. But I was trying to do something I thought was good for people.
With any leader, you need to be aware of where things are vs. where they should be. And with that, step by step, lead folks to where "they should be."
Hopefully, my "where they should be" is healthy. I want it to be.
Here's what I know: I'm not mad at "church" anymore.
I value growing up the son/grandson of piano/organ players- the hymns being so "in me." When we play things like "Because He Lives" at WR, that's not me trying to politically satisfy someone; that's me.
I want to Pastor. Shepherd. Through worship.
I can't please everyone. I'd like to. But I'd rather lead than be liked.
Sometimes, that does include getting folks to something that may be different than what they currently esteem.
Sometimes, that includes me realizing that what people like is more often than not legitimate.
WR music may be radical. I do want to "take out church, insert Jesus." I have a heart for folks who have been bumped into by the church, and I want to disarm some of their angst so they can become a part of a church that could bring healing to them.
Ways we "do church" here will include that flavor. That's part of our DNA. The heart is a compassionate, open door.
I want to Pastor our "church folks," too. I mean it. I want to set the table so our faithful saints can worship deeply with ways that connect in their hearts.
It's not always easy to succeed with two things at once.
But, if we're mature and on mission, we'll find a way to do just that. I think it can be done.
I'm willing right now to lay down some of my preferences for the sake of the Kingdom.
Oh God; let us succeed in this. To open the door for those that have a problem with "church," but also shepherd the faithful saints. Give us wisdom to do this well.