On Liturgy

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I've been thinking a lot lately about liturgy. So often we think of liturgy only as a boring set of routines done at boring churches. My simple google image search of the word "liturgy" returned this gem of an image. This awful papyrus-font image pretty much sums up how liturgy is looked at by forward thinking evangelicals. At times, out-dated and lame.

Glenn Packiam, a former worship leader turned Pastor, loosely defined liturgy as any activities done by a group regularly.

For example, a Panthers game has a liturgy. You expect to tailgate, you expect to wait in a long line to get in, you expect to yell "first down" many times, to stand up and shout and yell. These things are the liturgy of a football game.

If you tried out this liturgy at the mall people would look at you like you are crazy. It's a different setting, a different cultural liturgy.

Glenn's point, that has set my mind in motion, is that we (the church) have borrowed liturgies from the world. Part of this is inevitable, I suppose. We are trying to reach people in our culture, so we have to speak the language.

But Glenn said that in our worship, we have at times borrowed a rock concert liturgy and then we are surprised that it produces the result that it's supposed to. We shouldn't be surprised when we borrow a liturgy that is DESIGNED to turn people into consumers and see that people consume the music as a product built for them to enjoy.

What can we do to keep speaking the language of our culture and still lead people towards a worship that puts God at the center instead of ourselves, instead of our own needs and consumption?

Still wrestling with these questions. More thoughts to come, I'm sure. But you should watch the video if you have time, I'm trying to summarize an hour in a very short post.

How My Computer Became a Swimming Pool

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Two year olds are special creatures. They have a special ability to wreak accidental havoc at every turn. Sometimes they wreak on-purpose havoc, depending on the proximity to naptime/bedtime.

Our two year old is named Ben, and similar to all of our three boys, his cuteness makes sure he is never in trouble for very long. Yesterday, Ben wanted to watch Daniel Tiger on Netflix. This is a show that teaches young kids valuable life lessons on things like sharing, eating vegetables, and pooping.

So he is playing in the bonus room watching Daniel Tiger, he and his trains having a great old time. Our one year old is napping, so Emily and I are both doing random household chores. 

Ben is unattended for about fifteen seconds. He thinks it would be fun to get a drink of water. Mind you, the water bottle he found is not a Ben-sized water bottle. It's a behemoth. 

I'm pretty surprised he was even able to lift it up. You can guess where this is going. Our little two year old battling a giant water bottle.

The bottle won. Water everywhere.

Including daddy's computer. And not just a splash. I'm talking swimming pool water levels, here.

And you know what? It was ok. It sucks, obviously. But it's ok. Whenever things like this have happened in our family, it's hard for me to get too upset. It actually forces me to take a step outside of all the things I give too much importance to. My computer or phone or un-crayoned wall.

And I look at my wife and my three boys and I know how blessed I am, and that everything else will be ok. None of that other stuff matters. I am lucky enough to be able to get a computer fixed if I need to, I'll be taken care of and everything will be ok.

The things that matter the most sit at the dinner table with me every night.

Making a Stadium Feel Like a Living Room

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"We were opening for Neil Young at the time I wrote the song, and I was inspired by his ability to make a stadium feel like a living room. And we were making living rooms feel like stadiums, and I thought, this is backwards, like, we'd go on little punk rock clubs and we'd try to make it into this big hairy deal, and there's Neil, sitting there like no one's there except for two people in his living room, and he's captivating a whole audience." -Ben Folds
This quote has been rattling around my head a lot lately, along with another quote from Glenn Packiam that I'll probably share in another post. I keep asking myself, what doers this mean in a worship service context?

Using our set up and our style, how do we create an experience that makes the room feel smaller?

Because I feel like, if we're not careful, the lights and the cameras and the super-polished and well-flowing service can make it feel like we're trying to turn a living room into a stadium. And this is all well-meaning. We want to be excellent. I want to be excellent. It's not about that... it's about being inviting. Showing that the message of Jesus is genuine and authentic and captivating.

What can we do to foster that family, living room feeling at church? I really want to make the room smaller, because smaller means more personal and more connective.

How do we USE the tools we have, the lights and the cameras and the screens, all this amazing technology, how do we work it all together to make the room smaller?

How can I as a worship leader foster that type of feeling? How can I help people feel closer to what God is doing, not feel as if God is this big, unreachable thing?

If you want the answers to any of these questions, you are out of luck today. It's a good brain exercise for me to ponder all these things, though.
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"God pulls from the fringes of darkness his brightest lights." - Matt Chandler

And here is the finished product...

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This is the end result of my little hymn rewrite experiment. Enjoy!