All posts in "Leadership"

Artists as church extras and secular priests


If you are interested in the Gospel, the arts and the North American church, you must read Makoto Fujimura’s “A Letter to the North American Church” which in part says: You began to believe in the late 18th century that we needed rational categories, to try to protect “faith” from “reason.” Reason began to win the battle in this false dichotomy. As a consequence, you began to suspect the mystery of our being and the miraculous presence of God behind the visible. What you call “Secularism” is your own offspring,  given articulation by the division and fragmentation within the church. As a result of this dichotomy, you began to exile artists whose existence, up to that point, helped to fuse the invisible reality with concrete reality. An artist knows that what you can see and observe is only the beginning of our journey to discover the world. But you wanted proof, instead of mystery; justification instead of beauty. Therefore you pushed artists to the margins of worship, while the secular world you helped to create championed us, and gave us, ironically, a priestly role. Instead of having quality artists at the core of your worship, we were forced to operate as extras; as in “if-we-can-afford-it-good-but-otherwise-please-volunteer”, Extras. Meanwhile, in the institutions called museums, concert halls and academia, we are asked to be gods. You gave away artistic expression to the secular culture. And yet do you not know that Our Father in Heaven owns all of the earth? You might have given back the power of creativity to Egypt, and acquiesced to Babylon, but the true and living God still owns all the powerful institutions, and the hearts of critics and curators. Artists still have an instinct for worship, but they must do so now in sterile, minimalist boxes called galleries to the “unknown gods” of our time. Rather than giving devotion, they had to become a celebrity merchant, selling their goods; instead of giving of themselves to the Giver of gifts, they have become purveyors of a commodity. Artists have insight into the invisible qualities of the Reality; but you have forced them to serve only the visible, utilitarian and the pragmatic. Wow.  Strong stuff but worth careful thought.


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Songwriting, Music Licensing and the Gospel


Good post by Tim Smith @ Mars Hill Seattle which in part says: Do you really want to put your music out in a way that gives the church no legal way to record a demo for its band or even a rough recording to help the congregation learn your song? Do you really need someone to pay you off every time they display the lyrics of your song or play it at something besides an official worship service? Worth careful consideration of all church music leaders, especially as an introduction to Creative Commons Licensing.


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Art for, from and facing the church


Good word from Mike Cosper of Sojourn Community Church which in part says: For Christians thinking and talking about the arts, there are three broad categories for conversation: Art for the church Art from the church Art facing the church Art for the church needs to be seen as first and foremost as the work of a servant. Creativity is never supposed to be the centerpiece of the gathered church. Instead, it’s a servant of the liturgy, a servant of the ministries of word and prayer. Michael Card, in his great book, Scribbling in the Sand, describes the work of the artist in the church as an act of foot washing. Certainly there’s a place for skill and excellence, and certainly there’s a role that can be played by artists to affect to the congregation with the emotional wow and wonder of the arts. But that strength is only a servant and a signpost, pointing to the glory of Another. Art from the church is the work of the artist in the surrounding world. Here, artists pursue their calling and maximize their gifting. Christian artists should seek to be the best they can possibly be, in their field, to the glory of God, a task that is no different than the work of a doctor, teacher, or mechanic, who are each called to pursue their work with integrity and excellence. Art facing the church is the creative work that surrounds us, the cultural sea in which we all swim. Churches generally and Christians particularly must carefully navigate the issues of context and conscience in order to discern what they consume, how they consume it, and how they understand it. Full piece here (anyone that quotes Bob Dylan in, IMHO, worth a look). (HT:  Gospel Coalition)


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“Nobody cares about your church”


So says Tim Schrader of Park Community Church in Chicago in a  post for Catalyst: Look at recent polls, church attendance, or even watch the news and it’s fairly obvious… people don’t care about the church or what we have to say anymore. We’ve lost credibility for some legitimate reasons. And don’t chalk me up to being a church basher, I passionately care about the church, I’m just saying what’s true and what some of us might not want to admit. The Church has moved from the center of our Western culture and while some fight to keep it in the public square others of us are realizing the greatest way we can impact culture is by being on the periphery. Read the rest here.


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Music/worship director as entrepreneur


What does it mean to be an entrepreneur? Jeff Stibel in the Harvard Business Review sees it “more of a personality trait”  and even calls it “a disease” – Entrepreneurs are all in, all the time. Entrepreneurs love what they do and obsess over it. It is a predisposition; a path that has already been laid for you. It is a character trait, a labor of love, a zeal that cannot be trained, a condition that cannot be treated, an illness that cannot be caught. You’ve either got it or you don’t. Here are some questions to see if you have it: Do you wake up before your alarm goes off, hop out of bed excited to go to work? (good) Do you race to the car, forgetting breakfast, your morning coffee, and the paper? (better) Halfway to work, do you look down, realize you forgot to shower, shave, or get dressed? (great) Do you pause for a second, and then decide–what the hell–and head to work anyways? (diagnosis: entrepreneurialism; cure unknown) Sounds like some pastors and and church music directors I know.


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Limitations


Every leader of corporate worship will be limited at different times. It might be your drummer always rushes the fills. It might be you have to use someone else’s econo-guitar. It could be that the high school auditorium you’re meeting in has been overtaken by the set for “Man of La Mancha.” It could be your pastor wants you to play something out of your comfort zone. Whatever limitations you face when you lead, see them as opportunities for God to do something better than what you would have done on your own. If nothing else, limitations imposed on us by others are occasions to trust God more intently and “look not only to our own interests, but also the interests of others” (Phil. 2:4) – Bob Kauflin, Worship Matters


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Investing in people, not property


Rolling Hills Baptist in Fayetteville, Georgia, sold their building and property and moved their meetings into a local movie theater. Why? According to their website: …we’ve come to the conclusion that we want to invest more deeply in people rather than property. We’ve grown tired of investing more and more of our budget on mortgage, utilities, insurance, etc… at the expense of ministry and mission… In the first 300 years of Christianity there were very few brick and mortar churches. While “religious people” were building elaborate temples and houses of worship to celebrate their faith, Christians were spending their money supporting widows and orphans; meeting the benevolent needs of their community; and sponsoring the work of apostles and missionaries all over the known world. That’s the kind of church we want to be; a church of flesh and blood, not brick and mortar. Video below or here. Pastor Frank Mercer has a great post on his blog about what it means to be ‘missional’ which in part says: It’s not about how many people come to our church services – it’s about how many people our church serves. It’s not about our seating capacity – it’s about our sending capacity. It’s not about making decisions – it’s about being disciples. It’s not about building a monument – it’s about being a movement. It’s not about being an organization – it’s about being an organism. It’s not about keeping pace with the Joneses – it’s about keeping pace with Jesus. It’s not about competing for members – it’s about creating partnerships for mission and ministry. Your church doesn’t have to sell the building or property to be effective in service to others. What are you currently and purposefully doing to serve those outside the congregation? HT:  Catalyst


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