thoughts on worship, media/production in churches, and pretty much anything else

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Heart Beats

Somewhere beneath my skin

There’s an ocean where no great explorer has been

And if you are they of the thunderstorm

Then I am ready for the clouds to fall

And if you are the pulse I’ve never felt before

Then I’ll sail into the center of it all

Hearts beat fast

Hearts beat slow

It’s something you can’t control

Somewhere beneath your skin

There’s an island where you go to hide away

And if you are they of the thunderstorm

Then I am ready for the clouds to fall

And if you are the pulse I’ve never felt before

Then I’ll sail into the center of it all

Hearts beat fast

Hearts beat slow

Something you can’t control

 

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Community Out(of)reach

It’s a simple thing. Everyone needs help. Some more so than others, but in the grand scheme of things there is at least one person at any given time that you can help.

Go to every church website that you can think of and you’ll find a “core values,” or a “what we believe in,” etc… It’s marketing scheme in some respects. In most respects however, it’s a genuine framework of what the church is made of, what they have to offer, their duties as a church in your community so on and so forth.

If they have these values, then why don’t they stick to them?

Take commitment to the community for example. Every church says they are committed to helping the community. I think community is loosely defined these days though. How do you define it? Is the 5 miles surrounding your church? The city limits? The county line? I think every church has its limit.

And therein lies the problem.

Should churches have a limit on who they help? How they help them? How frequently they help them?

Should churches pour every single ounce of time into the community?

Maybe yes, maybe no. But regardless the individuals who make up the city, county or region where the church is should have the churchs’ hand extended to them.

How do you define community outreach? What is it to you?

There is a difference in helping the city and helping the community.

Helping the city out plays to a church’s favor in that it get’s the church’s name out there and can eventually gain the church preference in different city events and what not. It’s good to help the city because like it or not, the city will have a huge influence on how you reach your people. More importantly though, help the community. Help the people that are coming to these city sponsored events. It’s easy to see a church at an event, but it easier to see God in selfless service – and I mean service. Doing something that, on some reasonable scale, benefits that person directly. Take them grocery shopping, if possible, buy their groceries. Fix their car so they can go to work. Donate your car. Donate your time. Take them to work. If you’re in a position of power and hiring authority, give them a fighting chance to provide for themselves. Give clothes to the homeless. Directly to the homeless. Seriously. Take your old clothes or buy new ones (you can get shirts at the dollar store) put them in your car and drive downtown and hand them out.

If they cannot help themselves, then who will?

I think a lot of times churches get focused on serving the city and not the community.

It can’t be this way.

Here is just a list of ideas in case you need some help.

  1. Pack a cooler of iced bottled waters and hand them out to the people who have to hold up the signs on the side of the road for 8 hours.
  2. Don’t take your old belongings to Goodwill if at all possible. While Goodwill is a GREAT organization, other entities such as http://www.atlantamission.org/ send profits and proceeds to end homelessness. It’s a very cool organization.
  3. Literally, help someone cross the street.
  4. Stop and see if you can help someone stranded on the side of the road. 9 times outta 10, they’re not gonna kill you.
  5. Instead of giving money directly to the homeless, see if there is something else you can offer them. (Clothes, food, directions and ((GASP)) transportation to a shelter).
  6. That trailer park you keep driving by everyday? See if you can get a group of people together to fix up that dilapidated playground that sits out front.
  7. Donate school supplies year round. A pack of pens only lasts so long.
  8. Take lunch to the construction workers.
  9. Spend time with someone just pouring out love to them. (profound, I know.)

Reach the COMMUNITY. Don’t limit it to what is comfortable to you. Get on the interstate and help some people. It doesn’t just have to be the homeless, the addicted. Everyone is broken and tired in some aspect of their life. And please, don’t actively push your church’s name or beliefs onto the people. If they ask then sure, you can mention what your home church is and where it’s at. Even extend an invitation or offer to pick them up. But don’t go out in your church suit and tell people that your church is the be all and end all of salvation just because you gave them a shirt. Ultimately, God is going to get the glory. All you have to do is show them that God is real. That he exists in and through the people of your city, your community, your county, your region, your state, your country.

Get out there and serve somebody!

Phil Wickhams “Beautiful” w/ benefits.

There is a lot to be said about “modern,” or “contemporary,” worship. Huge guitars, kick drum that dislocates your ribs, tight jeans, cool hair, space-age sounds coming from a tower of 3 plus keyboards/synthesizers. A 25 – 35 year old church go-er expects all these things and more. Which, if it’s done with good intention, is perfectly fine. I mean come on, isn’t it cool to be able to experience the “rock show for Jesus,” every week? The music style might not…will not sit well with everyone. It’s important to have variety to keep all engaged in worship. Oh yeah, and have a GOOD SOUND GUY. (More on that to come later).

When on stage, musicians (vocalists you count too!) have a tendency to get “into,” the music. By the way, the “getting into,” is commonly referred to as worship. Musicians have to walk a fine line on the worship team. We have the same desire to worship like the rest of the congregation, but at the same time we have to still play effectively as to not distract the church as a whole from worship. But it’s a strange dichotomy. Personally, I feed off the actions of the congregation. If you all are dancing and singing them I’m gonna move my huge feet around that tiny stage. That may not be your style of worship though and I get that.

Those were the “benefits.” A strange rant. Now to analyze Phil Wickham’s “Beautiful,”

I believe there has to be a balance in worship sets between truth and emotion. You can sing really emotional songs, and there be little to no lyrical truth in the song. It’s the same if you reverse it too. You have a very truthful song, take most of the old-time hymns, and just singing the words doesn’t always invoke that potential emotion.

“Beautiful,” is constructed of four total verses. The first two verse vividly recognize God in the light of day and His power in the stars at night. The final two verses are where Phil tells the story of Christ’s redemption, sharing the truth of His suffering, death, burial, resurrection. The ascension occurs in verse three. A beautiful picture of the hope to come is painted in verse four, when “death is just a memory and tears are no more.” Where the church, the bride of Christ, is reunited with its savior.

Here are the lyrics.

I see Your face in every sunrise
the colors of the morning are inside Your eyes
the world awakens in the light of the day
I look up to the sky and say You’re beautiful

I see Your power in moonlit night
where planets are in motion and galaxies are bright
we are amazed in the light of the stars
it’s all proclaiming who you are You’re beautiful

I see you there hanging on a tree
You bled and then You died and then you rose again for me
now you are sitting on your Heavenly throne
soon You will be coming home You’re beautiful

when we arrive at eternity’s shore
where death is just a memory and tears are no more
we’ll enter in as the wedding bells ring
Your bride will come together and we’ll sing

You’re beautiful

First and foremost. The instrumentation on this song is crazy good. It’s a straight-up-hands-down Hymn.

I dig the truthfulness and accuracy in his 3rd verse.
I see you there hanging on a tree
You bled and then You died and then you rose again for me
now You are sitting on Your Heavenly throne
soon we will be coming home You’re beautiful
Sure there are A LOT of GREAT worship songs out there. Corporately they do a great job an engaging people into the worship experience. But it’s not often when one has such deep truth attached to it. Yeah, I know,  a lot of songs sing about Jesus rising from the dead and coming to rescue us. I get that.

But let’s go a bit deeper with this one. annnnnnd DIG!

Wickham nails it here.
now You are sitting on Your Heavenly throne
soon You will be coming home
A lot of times the final act of Christ, in the context of worship songs, is considered to be Him rescuing us. Therefore, we are the ones going home. However, and this is based on my interpretation, the final act of Christ is His return to Earth and the building of a new Jerusalem. I think Wickham does an excellent job at “doing justice for God,” so to speak, in this song.

It’s a great album. He’s a good and genuine guy. Go pick it up.

Here’s the video (not the official, but good audio quality).

Thanks to Ryan Weaver for planting this idea inside my brain.

Here we go again.

Needless to say, I’m not good at this. I don’t maintain it. The content is super old. And I forget my password more times that I eat. So I’ll attempt to revive it, save it somehow. Just use it for dropping knowledge and other such  frequently asked questions. Such as, “why does my toilet water always flow the same direction?” all the way to “What does my blood pressure have to be to have Stage 1 Hypertension?” It’s a toss-up every time ladies and gentlemen. There are some changes taking place in a lot of the main aspects of my life. Church, family, work, the stability of my teeth, etc…But for real, I’m gonna move my fingers to produce words that electronically talk about everything from faith, God, worship, gear reviews, album reviews, Golden Corral specials to my ingrown toenail.

So here we go.

I’ve been struggling a lot lately. Transitions are inevitable in any aspect of your life. They are kinda like car wrecks. You never know when they are going to occur, but chances are at some point, you be involved in one. We, as a church, are entering another one now. It’s both exciting and sad all at the same time. I hope for the best out of this transition.

Now to the real point.

Numbers vs. Relationships vs. Accountability vs. Integrity vs. Emotion vs. Logic

It’s a battle either way you look at it. But it doesn’t have to be one with a negative outcome.

If you had a church, what kind would it be? Relationship oriented? Number oriented? “Contemporary”? Vineyard? Scientology? Six Flags Over Jesus?

Some will argue that “contemporary,” or “relevant,” churches have the ability to be both focused on maintaining the relationships inside the church, as well as extending the four walls of the church and reaching the community, while having that “sunday morning experience,” that blows people away.

Argue away. You would probably have a valid point.

So how do you grow your church naturally and maintain those relationships? You can’t honestly know every persons name in a “Mega,” church and I’m sure you’d be hard pressed to find someone who knows everyone’s name at church of 300. I can’t even remember the date even after I just wrote it down. Thus, I’m not saying the only way to have an effective church is to be huge and know everyone’s name, it’s impossible.

I’d even argue that cliques are necessary within a large church in order to protect people from that feeling of being disconnected. However, they have to be maintained. Imagine 5 circles that represent cities in a tiny state (technically, like Guam, but the little cities look like Cheerios)

One Here 1                                                                      One Here 2

One Here 3

 One Here 4                                                                        One Here 5

Collectively, all five groups make up the congregation of a church. Separate though, you’ve got five different groups of people. Within these groups, all involved have some shared interest. All the different groups offer up something different (be it age, personality, common interests, duty assignments, etc…) but all are working towards the same end result.

What has to happen though is that all these different groups have to stay connected while seeming somewhat distant. Face it, there are going to be people who you just don’t talk to on Sunday mornings. Not by any intention but just because you have certain things going on that don’t mesh with what that individual has going on. The tech team (guys and gals behind the lights and sound), the worship team, the lead guys, the little babies in the nursery…none of them are better or more connected to God than you. They are just different entities in church that allow Sunday mornings to happen.

Here’s where you make the connection.

Church wide, or should I say, congregation wide events. Sure have events for the guys one weekend and women the next, but stay consistent and don’t favor one side over the other or favor one age group over another. While Men’s Prayer breakfasts and Womens Bible Reading Seminars are all good and fun, integration is the key to cohesion. Couples retreats, even if it is to the local campground. Plan activities that reach a broad range of people and ADVERTISE them. Make em exciting. Most of all, make them purposeful. It’s the only way you’re gonna get the left side of the sanctuary to talk to the right side of the sanctuary while maintaining good relations between the front of house and the back of house. You may even mend the relationships between the sound guys and the people who complain that it’s too loud.

Needless to say, I’m all for cliques. Just not close-minded hacky sacking type cliques that wear group t-shirts. If you all are on the worship team, then cool hangout together. Have a cookout, go bowling, build something. But don’t forget that as a team you can do other things than worship. You can get together and help the other people in the church by cooking their family dinner one week. Same goes for everyone Group 1, help group 2, 2 help 3, 3 help 4, 4 help 5, 5 help 1, 1 help 3, 2 help 4, 4 help 1, you get it? Stay connected on a personal level and it is not going to matter how big your church grows. If it grows to 1000 then great. If it stays at 240 for years on years, even better. No matter what the numerical value of your congregation, maintain the ties.

I know it’s jumpy and doesn’t flow easy. I gotta get back in my groooove.

Upcoming Topics (in no particular order)

1. Discussing the truthfulness of lyrics as they pertain to worship songs.
2. My cat.
3. Community Outreach vs. Community Out of Reach
4. My thoughts on the Aeolian mode.
5. Pajama Jeans…Style? Comfort? I don’t care as long as they go with my cowboy boots.
6. My synthesizer and I have a discussion, in A minor.

Anyways, they’ll get better. I promise.

 

 

 

long time coming

Wow, it’s been what, 6-7 months since I last did this? I find myself at an interesting crossroad at this point in my life. Tonight at 8pm I will take my last college final, ever. Which makes me wonder, “Being that this is the ‘final’ Final, what will I do afterward?”  I find it interesting that after 5 years, yes…5 years, in school that I do not, nor will I, have a job that pertains to my degree in 2 weeks. Job market is terrible, but at least I have one that, for the most part, isn’t very stressful and it pays well. While this will be short because I have to start work in 20 mins, I will get back on the blog train (scouts honor), with new updates from church and life in general. We’ve been through a lot of changes since the last post, I mean heck, I got married and never even posted about that. Like I said, I gotta run, but hopefully, with my life finally winding down to a somewhat normal Atlantan’s pace, I should be more frequent on this bad boy. If not, can’t say I didn’t try!

-Tom

“Fitting In.” and other issues.

I’m curious. I was having a conversation with someone and we got on the subject of “fitting in,” at church. Should one have to fit in? Is it wrong for that person to feel that way? Or more importantly, is it wrong of the church to allow such an instance to occur? Personally, I lean towards the latter answer (and this will stir up the hornets nest a bit). If your church has cliques that make someone feel like an outsider because they don’t possess a similar trait, then you are not being biblical. You may not even realize it, and that’s fine. Pridefulness is the sin at heart here. I can tell you from personal experience, this turns people away from Christ.

Another issue. Every church has that guy the one who everyone pretends to like, but deep down, they just can’t stand him/her. Every time they come around the corner, or yell at you across the foyer, or facebook stalk you, it just hits a nerve in you. If you are that guy, back off, emulate Christ in a real way. Don’t force people into things they have no desire to do. People avoid you for a reason. Take a look at yourself and reevaluate yourself from a Christ-like standpoint.

Just a s

nines

watching the thenines with Ross and Jared. Super cool. Sucka.