Archive | February, 2013

Knowing Bono…follow-up

26 Feb

As I mentioned in my previous post, though I feel like I know the lead singer of Bono, if I knocked on his house, and he answered the door, he would say “I don’t know you.”  Those are hard words to hear.  So is it possible that God might say them to us when we hope to enter his Kingdom?

In Luke 13:22-30, that’s exactly what Jesus teaches.  I would encourage you to read it, and then if you want you can listen to the sermon here.

What about you?  Is it possible that while you think you know God, he might not know you?  What can we do about this?  What does it mean to know God and be known by him?  Let’s discuss!

Getting to know Bono

23 Feb

U2 is my favorite band for many reasons.  I have a lot of respect for the lead singer Bono, and I would love to sit down and have a nice, long talk with him.

I don’t think that’s going to happen, but I’ve come close!  I’ve seen U2 in concert twice.  Going to those concerts was a lifelong dream come true for me.  U2 tickets are very hard to come by, and I thought it would never happen.  But a couple friends made it happen.  (Ray and Todd, if you’re reading this, let me say thanks again!)  In Denver, CO, in Nov. 2001 during the Elevation Tour my friend Ray and I were on the floor in general admission.  The next was with my wife in Philly in May 2005, during the Vertigo Tour.  There we were seated to the right rear of the stage, so close we could read the lyrics off the teleprompter.  I actually got within 20-30 feet of Bono each time.  For years before the concerts, and ever since, I’ve bought their music and videos, read the books, and followed their website.  I feel like I’ve gotten to know Bono especially well.

But here’s the rub: if I showed up at his house, and he answered the door, while I would be super-excited, I’m pretty sure he would say “I don’t know you or where you come from.”

I would say, “Yeah but, I was at your concerts.  I read your books.”

But he would say, “Sorry…I don’t know you.”

Those are hard words to hear, aren’t they?  They make me think of the classic romantic movie, where a major breakdown has happened in a relationship, and one person says “I don’t know you, anymore.” There is shock and pain involved, extreme disappointment.

Wouldn’t it be awful to have God say that to us?  Here’s the awesome news, we don’t have hear that!  There is a better way.  Want to hear about the better way?  Join us tomorrow morning at Faith Church, or wait for the podcast on Monday!

Going deeper with Jesus, and other phrases that make you think “blah, blah, blah.”

9 Feb

“Going deeper with Christ.”

How many times have you heard that?  A billion?

“More passion for Christ!  More intimate relationship with Jesus!”

Blah, blah, blah.  We’ve heard it over and over…

Any of you hear that phrase “going deeper” and tune out because you’ve heard it so many times, and you’re just not sure what it means OR how to go deeper?  Maybe you’re not sure you want to try.

You ever hear someone call another person “deep.”?

What is a deep person?

What is a mature person?

What does it mean to grow up?

Here’s a video clip that, when it comes to going deeper with Jesus, or when it comes to your relationship with church, just might describe the situation precisely.

Why I dislike church worship surveys very, very much

7 Feb

The pastors of the EC Church have a Facebook page.  It’s a place where we pastors talk shop throughout the week, ask each other questions, debate, and so on.  Recently a pastor friend of mine asked the following question:

Has anyone ever surveyed their congregation regarding worship style? If so, do you have any questions that my worship committee might use?

I knew I had to respond.  We’ve done worship surveys at Faith Church.  Maybe some of you remember them.  How would you answer his questions?  Want to know what I said?  here is my response:

Don’t survey them! It always went bad for us!!!! Ha! That is true though.

My eye starts to twitch when I think about surveys.  They give the impression of interest in hearing from people and caring about their perspective.  But somehow it has not gone well for us.  I think that might be due to believing that majority rules, or that majority is always right.  At Evangelical Seminary’s recent Faith in the Marketplace breakfast, speaker Jim Smucker (CEO of Bird-In-Hand Corporation) gave a wonderful presentation, including a clip from the movie Invictus.  Please watch it here before reading further.

So I knew I had to say a bit more in response to my friend’s question:

When I said, “don’t survey them,” above, the more I think about it, the more I think that is serious. By surveying them about worship style, how could you avoid promoting a consumerist mentality toward worship? In 2007 Faith Church was going through worship difficulties. One proposal (which I admittedly favored) was going to two services, one traditional, one contemporary. I was wrong. Though kicking and screaming, I supported our decision not to go to two services. Instead we attempted a blend. Our reasoning was that we wanted our people to practice unity over and above their personal preferences. Many were unable to demonstrate that kind of sacrificial attitude. Faith Church is now smaller from a resulting worship exodus, and has ongoing budgetary concerns.

I wonder often if we should have just given people what they wanted, and hoped to minister to them (change their minds) after keeping them here. This is speculation, but after decades of consumer-oriented worship, I highly doubt we would change their mind. Could the Spirit do it? Sure. But we didn’t go that route, and here we are smaller. About two years ago, we evaluated the blend idea, and found that wanting too. Attempting to place everyone in a position where they get a little of what they want, and have the opportunity to sacrifice a little bit, it wasn’t working. Trying to please everyone leads to pleasing no one.

So we went back to the foundation, asking “what does it mean for the gathered church to worship God?” The traditional style doesn’t have a corner on the market. Neither does the contemporary or the blend or high liturgy or anything else for that matter. Our conclusion was that we needed to lead our people in a varied, experimental, creative, biblical, Christ-centered, joyful, worship of God. Now, we tinker with order of worship almost every week. We introduce elements of worship from a variety of traditions. Some weeks an entire worship service is devoted to one of those traditions. We practice variety in giving, with communion, with baptism, etc. One week we didn’t have a worship service and instead did a Church Has Left The Building…worshiping by serving. We worship twice each summer in a local park. And we’re looking into more options this year. Not everyone likes every Sunday, but we’re no longer driven by their preferences. After a Silent Sunday (Quaker and Taize influenced), I asked for feedback, and one couple gave the best compliment: “We didn’t care for it, but we respect what you’re doing.” They’re still here a year later.

Unless you can avoid promoting consumer worship, I urge you not to survey them. Lead them into worshiping God.

So while we don’t have worship figured out at Faith Church, I hope we never do.  Instead I hope we always experiment, having teachable hearts that expectantly seek to worship God in new and old ways as much as possible.