All posts in "Resources"

What is your church worth?


Interesting study graphic here says “in a 1997 study, (it was) found that urban congregations provide, on average, $140,000 worth of services annually.  In 2009, (it) was revised to more than $476,000 annually.” Some specifics: Reduced crime rate:  $64k Volunteer hours: $94.7 Rehab efforts (drugs, alcohol):  $78.7 Stimulus to local economy (church budget):  $520k Impact for eternity:  priceless. HT:  Christianity Today


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Have we divorced worship from service?


I’m afraid we’ve almost divorced worship from loving our neighbor as our self. The first and most important commandment is “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, soul and strength.” And we go, Oh, stop right there. That’s worship. Yeah, but keep reading. Jesus isn’t finished yet. And the second most important commandment is this: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” And I think I read somewhere that we should weep with those who weep. But I think most of the Christian church is focused on rejoicing with those who rejoice. It’s hard work. It can be depressing if your focus is constantly on the pain and the suffering and the sin and the poor and the homeless and the marginalized, the racism that goes down in this world and even in the churches. I’m not a macabre person. But the bottom line is that worship of God cannot be disconnected with loving your neighbor as yourself. Yet for the last eight or ten years, when Christians are talking about worship, we’re really talking about the songs. That’s so one-dimensional. Worship really is lifestyle, and it includes suffering alongside of my neighbor. Worship includes not just bringing my offering to the temple, but for the one who has two coats, to give one to him who has none. And I think that there is a divorce among many Christians when it comes to loving their neighbor, particularly their poor or their marginalized or their not-so-groovy-never-drive-a-Lexus neighbor. That kind of attitude. These folks think they’re worshiping God? Because they’re singing “the top ten” worship hits on Sunday morning? Excuse me. I’m hearing the prophet Amos hollering in my head. Glenn Kaiser, Singin’ the Blues (Interview with ChristianityToday.com, June 13, 2005)


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David was a bluesman


So says Glenn Kaiser, former frontman of the REZ Band: … if one were to place the songs of the Book of Psalms in catagories, “laments” would be the largest of them. A full 57 of the 150 lyrics in this biblical book speak about struggle, problems, negative situations. They cry, shout and beg for deliverance. David and the other writers of these lyrics had much in common with a slave culture many years and miles removed from them. Then he writes: As a musical form, blues is basic. Twelve-bar tunes (an entire verse or chorus typically contains 12 measures, three chords) are basic, simple and direct. Regardless of tempo and production, it’s immediate and most of the time, pretty earthy stuff. Which is to say “unpretentious”, real. As was stated in the opening paragraph, blues is based on the human voice. If one examines standard blues music, one readily hears a guitar, harmonica, keyboards and sax- when soloing (playing melodies)- playing and sometimes echoing a succession of notes that could have just as easily been sung. Even the foundational instruments- drums and bass- many times mimic phrasing right out of the average blues singer’s repertoire. As a music minister, all of the above is not only touching for me, it also offers a wonderful vehicle through which to communicate the messages I am convinced God wants my audience to hear. The whole thing is worth reading. I really like what I’ve heard from Glenn’s Cardboard Box CD.  If I can get a copy, I’ll do a review soon.


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Are we losing beauty?


English philosopher & writer Roger Scruton thinks so, and maintains we have traded beauty and skill for ideas and shock value.  Although not coming from a particularly “Christian” point of view, I think he has a point. After a recent museum trip, I’m glad to see that he thinks much of ‘modern art’ is actually poking fun at the concept of art and the ‘modern art’ movement. Here’s the description of the video: In the 20th century, Scruton argues, art, architecture and music turned their backs on beauty, making a cult of ugliness and leading us into a spiritual desert. Using the thoughts of philosophers from Plato to Kant, and by talking to artists Michael Craig-Martin and Alexander Stoddart, Scruton analyzes where art went wrong and presents his own impassioned case for restoring beauty to its traditional position at the center of our civilization. Click here to watch part 1 of 3, about 10 minutes in length.  Warning:  content not suitable for easily offended or for all ages.  


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A Call to Worship for Independence Day


We came from all places and all peoples to gather here today. Some of us traveled across the ice, others came later in boats, still others of us waded rivers or arrived in planes. We found a land blessed. Blessed with mountains and valleys, rivers and oceans, fertile earth, wonderful woods, and promising cities. Here, A dream was born. A dream of freedom from all oppression, A dream of hope for our children, A dream of people in community under God. We have turned to nations and peoples who gave us birth: Send us the voiceless. Send us the fearful. Send us the oppressed. And so the dream continues… And so the dream of America continues… God, help us to do your work until your dreams come true… ~~~ A 21st Century Worship Resource The Rev. Nathan Decker Courtesy of GBOD.org  


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Who says young people don’t give?


Here’s a story that proves otherwise: College students attending the Passion Conference in Fort Worth… exceeded the set goal and gave over $227,000 to fund a Bible translation project in the Western African nation of Mali. Currently, members of that particular people group in Mali have no access to the Bible in their own language. But now with the money given by students attending the Passion 2011 Fort Worth conference, the people group will receive translation of 90 Bible stories into their “heart” or native language over the next five years. If you want to pump up your youth group by making a huge difference for the poor, contact me about holding a Harmony of Hearts event for your church this summer.


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Return of the ‘classic’ Christian song


My wife, son and I attended a concert on the Christian Classics Tour last Friday that featured Michael Card, Wayne Watson, Twila Paris, and Steve Green.   I’m old enough to remember when these four were pillars of what was known as “contemporary Christian music” in the 80s and 90s (‘classic’ is a nice euphemism). The local paper here called it “bringing back songwriters, not just performers.” I can see why.  We were reminded of what a great trove of music these artists represent.  For example, look at the lyrics to this Michael Card song: It seems I’ve imagined Him all of my life As the wisest of all of mankind But if God’s Holy wisdom is foolish to men He must have seemed out of His mind For even His family said He was mad And the priest said a demon’s to blame But God in the form of this angry young man Could not have seemed perfectly sane When we in our foolishness thought we were wise He played the fool and He opened our eyes When we in our weakness believed we were strong He became helpless to show we were wrong So we follow God’s own Fool For only the foolish can tell Believe the unbelievable Come be a fool as well Come lose your life for a carpenter’s son For a madman who died for a dream Then you’ll have the faith His first followers had And you’ll feel the weight of the beam So surrender the hunger to say you must know Have the courage to say, “I believe” For the power of paradox opens your eyes And blinds those who say they can see So we follow God’s own Fool For only the foolish can tell Believe the unbelievable Come be a fool as well Have you seen any of the shows? Do you have a favorite “Christian classic” from one of these artists?


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