Bill dubbed us the “Kristian Stan-fill-ins”.
This is definitely not the week to skip church. It’s gonna be an exciting Sunday! We’ll have a couple of new songs and a few hundred new friends with us. See you @ 8:45!
In the meantime, here’s some pics for my fellow nerds and geeks to drool over. I’ll add pics of everyone else’s gear later.
Bill dubbed us the “Kristian Stan-fill-ins”.
The Ash Wednesday service was a great start to the Lenten season. This beautiful service in the Christian faith is a time for us to openly admit our frailty and sinfulness. It’s a time to be honest with who we are and lay the things that stand between us and the Lord at His feet. It’s also the time for us to begin anticipating the resurrection. We go from darkness to light. The anticipation is overwhelming.
Thank you Doc Davis (our rock star sound technician) for capturing the song “Beautiful Things” at Wednesday’s service. You can listen here!
We are excited to be playing for the Mission/Evangelism Summit This weekend!
GOD OF INTIMACY AND ACTION: A DAY WITH DR. TONY CAMPOLO
10 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Christ UMC Sanctuary
The Mission-Evangelism Conference is an annual event that calls those together who are passionate about learning practical lessons in the areas of evangelism and missions in the local church. Dr. Campolo addresses the importance of our own connectedness to God and its effects on how we share that love-message with the world.
Registration is $10 per person and includes lunch.
We hope to see you there!!!
On Monday afternoon, sitting my studio, working on songs for this upcoming Sunday’s worship, I took a moment to browse my Twitter feed, and came across a link to a blog post by James K.A. Smith entitled “An Open Letter to Praise Bands” posted by my best friend, whose beliefs, theories, and opinions on most all things God, church, and theology-related I tend to trust. What I proceeded to read confirmed and approved the beliefs I hold as a leader of communal worship, while simultaneously filling me with uncomfortable conviction that I should be doing better at them.
In it, Smith talks about how we, the church, unwittingly encourage our contemporary worship teams to import musical and performance practices that, while not inherently wrong, are detrimental to the core function and purpose of corporate worship. These techniques can be fun, excited, and can, in moderation, add a healthy degree of drama and intensity to our worship; but when left unchecked, they begin to transform the sacred ritual of offering our voices to the Creator into a largely passive experience, one where the congregation simply sits back and receives for their enjoyment. The more I think about it, I realize I’ve witnessed the missteps listed below committed by numerous worship artists/bands that I love and respect immensely, not to mention us here at Christ United. Frankly, we (the Vibe team) are getting pretty good at what we do. But there is a thin, volatile line between “That’s cool!” and “This is ear-pleasing worship that I can easily enter into”. The collective outcry through art that in many ways defines the outward identity of our church could stand in danger of being simply reduced to “secular liturgies”.
The letter makes 3 primary points:
1. If we, the congregation, can’t hear ourselves, it’s not worship.
2. If we, the congregation, can’t sing along, it’s not worship.
3. If you, the praise band, are the center of attention, it’s not worship.
All solid points, but what I found most unsettling to consider, in context with myself and the weekly worship that participate in and play a hand in facilitating, was the second. In Mr. Smith’s own words,
“In other forms of musical performance, musicians and bands will want to improvise and “be creative,” offering new renditions and exhibiting their virtuosity with all sorts of different trills and pauses and improvisations on the received tune. Again, that can be a delightful aspect of a concert, but in Christian worship it just means that we, the congregation, can’t sing along. And so your virtuosity gives rise to our passivity; your creativity simply encourages our silence. And while you may be worshiping with your creativity, the same creativity actually shuts down congregational song.
Those of you familiar with Vibe worship, and particularly my contribution on the electric guitar, should understand my discomfort with playing guitar solos, in the traditional sense of “here’s a 8 or 16 bar section of the song where the guitar steps into the focal space usually filled by the lead voice(s)”. Even in my moments of playing melodies that boldly stand out in the absence of words being sung, I sincerely desire to view every note I play as humbly serving the overall song. In fact, just hours before reading Smith’s letter, I had texted Hyland to discuss a song we’ll being playing this upcoming Sunday, and removing a section of the song reserved for a guitar solo, and skipping straight ahead to the next bit of singing. Even though I do acknowledge the pragmatic solution of creating space in music between the lyrics to give everyone a break, a moment of reflect and deeply consider what they are singing and who they are singing it to, the idea of instrumental solos in worship music strikes me as strange and indulgent.
Indulgent seems to be an apt word I’m looking for in reference to what it is I’m constantly fearful of the Vibe praise team getting within reach of. For the past year and a half I’ve been blessed to be a part of this ministry and had the opportunity to be an influence in it’s musical development (many of you I know have astutely noticed how a significant turning point in the band’s sound coincided with the sudden appearance of my laptop computer onstage). And as we as a band have continued to be creative and executed some of the crazy ideas put forth by myself, Hyland, and others, we have, and hopefully will continue to, look to God for grace and discernment, and hold close to heart an acute awareness of what we are and what small, specific purpose we serve in our church. I can proudly report from playing week after week with these guys that the worship that happens onstage, both in rehearsal and on Sundays, is authentic and deep. We are worshiping God onstage. But everyone else doesn’t show up to watch us worship, they are there to be lead. As a band, we can’t ever forget that we are responsible for leading, which sometimes means giving up what we think is cool musically and “gearing down” so as to not leave anyone behind.
Please understand and keep us in your prayers, no matter what direction our musical fancy may lead us off on, we will continue to fight so that the basic, God-honoring function we serve is never lost on us. As our dearly departed David Crowder*Band put it, “I’m just trying to make you sing / from inside where you believe / like it’s something that you need / like it means everything / I’m just trying to make you sing.”
This is a video promoting our new Lenten series “Journey to Hope.” Lent is such a special time in the Church as we anticipate the resurrection. What is your favorite thing about Lent? What are you looking forward to in this Lenten season? We look forward to hearing from you. To comment, just select the “blurb” bubble at the top right of this post!