Thursday, April 23, 2009

e*g ... final week

For: The Institute of Contemporary and Emerging Worship Studies, St. Stephen's University, Essentials Green Online Worship Theology Course with Dan Wilt

Well...the end is here. This is the last week of the 15 week worship theology course, the impetus for this blog. I have plenty of material to blog about for a very long time, but without an imposed deadline by someone other than myself, this may be the last post for a while. If you've enjoyed reading my thoughts here, you can say a prayer that I'll stay inspired and motivated to continue writing.
Essentials Green has focused on core values in the Vineyard: Intimacy and Integrity, Accessibility and Cultural Relevance, Kingdom Expectation, and Spiritual Formation.

My creative project is a painting of a woman, pregnant with these values. Here's what I wrote about it in my class:

I know that, essentially, the creative project is meant to be something to bless my community. I don't know how many people in mine will actually see this painting. A few will catch it on Facebook or on my blog. Few will probably be impacted by the painting itself. But what's working within me are all of these thoughts and yearnings awakened over the weeks of Essentials Green (and Red and Blue). I feel pregnant. I feel like this woman contemplating her growing abdomen, amazed at the new life forming inside. And I think that I am God's creative project...after these thoughts have a chance to settle and work their way around my being, something is going to be birthed. I'm not sure exactly what, but I'm going to the next level. As in the birth of each of my children, new challenges arise with adding yet one more. And God has always equipped me for each new adventure. There will be something similar with this "birth." Challenging, definitely full of adventure, this spiritual formation has the potential to multiply, to not just affect me but to go out and affect the world. Wow. This painting somehow captures that for me. The anticipation of good things to come. Yeah, God!

I'm not sure where things will go from here. Life is busy and without an externally imposed deadline and structure, many of the things I've enjoyed about taking this course will probably take a back seat for a while. It's just life. But I have so enjoyed these intense 15 weeks of diving deep into worship theology and look forward to the work God is doing in my life as a result.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

"I Believe" Easter Presentation

For: The Institute of Contemporary and Emerging Worship Studies, St. Stephen's University, Essentials Course Online Worship Theology Course with Dan Wilt

This past Easter, 3 of my friends and I performed the piece I wrote for the Essentials Blue worship theology course titled "I Believe." A couple of months ago, I posted my rough version. Here's the tweaked version we recorded on Sunday.

I don't really know how it is that I was able to write this piece. Originally it was a response to the hardest discussion question I've ever had to answer in my life. It required digging deep and finding words to express the essence of what I believe. It caused me to groan under the weight of wordless thoughts and emotions as I wrestled to make them come into a tangible form. I struggled with the way it was written in comparison to the other classmates. This was supposed to just be the notes for a nice and neat 5 paragraph essay. But I could never get it into that form.

And I'm glad.

It morphed from my discussion question answer to my creative project to a presentation we did on Easter. My heart's desire is that in some way this humble offering would bring hope and healing to the despairing and diseased, plant life and truth into the hearts of all who see it, and bring glory to My God and King...this worship expression of one walking down the path of becoming more fully human, more fully glorifying to My Creator.

Friday, April 3, 2009

I'm thinking about Accessibility and Relevance - e*g Week 2

For: The Institute of Contemporary and Emerging Worship Studies, St. Stephen's University, Essentials Green Online Worship Theology Course with Dan Wilt

Being a leader can sometimes leave your head spinning. How do you meet the needs of the many individuals with their varied backgrounds, tastes, maturity, etc.? How do you touch on the places of need without leaving anyone out? How can you be accessible and relevant all at the same time?

A pastor told a story once of a worship intercession gathering he hosted at his church. Having attended a few of these myself, I know first-hand that they are not geared to be "seeker-sensitive" in the human sense of the word. Strange things sometimes happen. Songs are not posted on a wall nor in a song sheet. No one explains much of what is happening. Those who lead are simply passionate about worshiping God and giving Him their full attention.

This pastor noticed someone there who looked like it was his first time. Come to find out, not only was it his first time, he had no idea what he had been invited to. Upon further conversation, the pastor found out that the young man was in a homosexual relationship and was not a believer. He told the young man to consider this place like God's living room, to have a seat and to just observe what was going on.

Within half an hour, the young man had found someone to pray for him.

Another fifteen minutes and he was giving his life to the Lord.

No one had specifically purposed to be accessible and relevant to this young man in the ways that these terms are most often understood. They had, however, made themselves available to God, spent time with Him, ministered to Him and loved on Him. His presence came. This young man found Jesus.

And don't you know, God is the most seeker-sensitive of all of us.

So, how does a church become more accessible, more relevant?

By fixing our gaze on Jesus, by soaking in His Presence, by declaring His Kingdom come on earth as it is in Heaven, by being sensitive to what the Holy Spirit is saying and doing and then leading people to that place where Heaven and earth overlap.

And just maybe, we'll become accessible and relevant to those we serve, to our communities, our cities, our nation. I'm not against practical ways and methodologies. I just believe that those ideas work most effectively if they flow out of an intense focus on God and a life lived in His presence.