Palm Sunday reminds me that Triumphal entry celebrations can turn to vicious ego and power driven public executions in a matter of days. Who leads the charge? It is almost always the pious posing puritan pseudo protectors of the greater good.
A year ago, the federal government and state governments of the United States of America locked down the greatest country in the world. We the people were told that it was for our own food, for the greater good.
Stay at home, no church, no school, no hugs, no handshakes, no travel, no exercise, no choice. No preventative and normal medical care for anyone. Why? Covid.
The “experts” used faulty projections and models to terrify the population into submission instead of leading with authority. Media fueled the panic. Toilet paper disappeared. Supply chains were disrupted globally. Families disintegrated overnight. Singing in choirs was utterly destroyed overnight.
The TRUTH: none of the countermeasures delivered as promised. The epidemic and mortality curves of the lockdown leaders are equal or greater than the anti lockdown leaders. We live and we die. This was true before. It will always be true. The mortality rate of the human race is 100%.
What happened, whether intentional or not, was the further subjugation of people’s minds and ability to think for themselves. Our bodies fought the battles with Covid. Our minds chose to surrender to the “experts” opinions over our own because we were and are afraid.
We the people fell in line. We went along to get along. We dutifully put on our masks and stopped singing our songs of community and connection.
The medical crisis is ending now. Science has prevailed with vaccines and synthetic immunity. Those of us that had the actual disease either lived or died like every other disease. The infestation of fear and dependence on government has only begun. The consequences of THIS disease will be far worse over time. Write it down. Follow the science.
We the people need community. Masks are bad things both physically and mentally. Not singing in community is catastrophic. The one societal entity that could have fought successfully was the local church. Instead, it largely proved its insignificance and irrelevance and stayed on the sidelines like it has in so many global crises of the past.
God is working indeed. He is working individually in hearts and minds. Faith over fear is the answer. Once we accept the astounding authority of God and His power to overcome death, these earthly things become nothing. Governments rise and fall. Churches form and fail. My God is real and present in my day. I am not afraid. I am sorry for when I was afraid. I will strive to NEVER be afraid of death again. You should too.
Assigning blame and convicting a leader is a weekly reality in most churches. Punishment is death. This is how the majority of the world of “church politics” acts in response to a message of hope, plans of action, and accountability for results and better choices. This is a story we all know and relate to viscerally. Apologies and reconciliations are rare indeed but they are a foundation for healing.
Couple of weeks ago I was attacked by friends in public, in my church. It is true that I was to blame for many results over the past year. It is also true that I deserve credit for inspiring, desiring more, and delivering when most did nothing and continue to do exactly that even today.
My choice as a leader was to stay and fight on terms of men or withdraw and let God work in hearts and minds. I and family made a hard choice based on principles, plans, and hope for a future for everyone involved. The pain is still real. The grief is stifling. This is the life we are provided. Every day is an opportunity to be. Love. Serve. Repeat. Some years go better than others.
Results can’t be determined one day at a time but my decisions over time will show that I’m proud to say. Look at what I did when I stand for judgement.
I’m pretty sure that I retired from vocational music ministry this morning officially. 25 years of doing the job, fitting in, and going along for the greater good with notes, rhythms, and service design are over in my mind.
I actually resigned from First Baptist Ridgeway for any that don’t know. No hard feelings but plenty of anxiety.
Ministry is guaranteed to always be part of my future. I’m a musician so there is that, but I can’t see a job for me which forces me to fit into a box anymore. The old Jeff, the tenor, the performer, the passionate powerful presenter has been in a chrysalis for a long time. Maybe I stay in there. Maybe I come out a moth. Maybe I come out a glorious butterfly. Who know? Only God knows.
I hope that I’ll be afforded and opportunity to lead again in the future. I adore choirs. I revel in live music making with passionate and skilled collaborators. I also love preaching and teaching scripture and leadership and using technology.
the future is bright but the one thing I know for sure is that it won’t be like it was. I’m grieving that loss. I’m a change champion but even for me it is exhausting and the cost is high.
For anyone who sings and leads in worship AND anyone who attends and wants to lead. Perhaps most important of all...for the congregation: as we approach worship we must find the balance and always seek the higher excellent things for glory to God, not praise of men and not our own preferences. It is difficult for all roles to execute. It is simple to criticize. The relentless return of the sabbath provides a weekly opportunity. As for my experience, some are far better than other. This is simple reality.
The force is strong with this one. He should go back to population and act like everyone else to set a good example. That is one way.
In the movie of course, the special then step up and lead in a new way, setting themselves apart.
The real way is to learn where you can best serve and then do so safely after education yourself. Raising all with you while you continue to seek to improve yourself.
The answer is never to lower the bar and race to the bottom to simply include. The distribution curve has a top and a bottom. Neither can be ignored.
Educate yourself. Live your life. Be. Love. Serve. Repeat. Freely giving and loving but standing proud. Let your light shine bright for all to see. Sing loud for all to hear. Stand and be counted. You are specific, beloved, first born child of Christ. Act like it.
it would be awesome if Jesus gave the disciples light sabers. Wait? Maybe he did. See: #TheHolySpirit
Local churches too often thrive on a culture of control. We set a standard of fear and condemnation based on an unachievable standard and spend our precious relationship cycles telling people what they can’t do. Our control choice inhibits the mission of spreading good news.
We should be focusing our leadership and congregations on what they CAN do. That is GOOD News of great joy. God is love. We the people are charged to live in that example. The entire garden of Eden is ours and yet we focus on control and the one tree. That power choice controls us.
Minimizing TV news and mass opinion commentary maximizes clarity of individual thought and perspective.
Reading enough but not too much.
Talking less, smiling more.
Thinking and praying in a private time and space is powerful. Physically creating is far more critical than consuming, competing, comparing and judging. Focusing on personal and local actions maximize the value and immediate results.
In order to proceed differently, we must accept what went well and what is failing. Changing nothing is accepting a likely outcome.
All we really know is that happened based on the actions in the past and even those facts are often interpreted differently. How do we define success and what are we able to actually do to make a difference? There is a judgement and the accountability for how we spend our time, money, and precious ability. We choose and we are thus accountable for our choices. Too many desire to be subjects to avoid accountability.
What is the job? What is the goal? What is success?
for your church? Your family? Your job? Your freedom? Your example? Your writing? Happiness?
The title of FAMILY comes with great privilege AND great responsibility. if you give away or minimize the responsibility and accountability you minimize the title and privilege.
That is a tragedy in most cases as we are made to be connected not isolated. Their is no real excuse for abandonment in any direction.
Tozer teaching still today. “No free believer should ever sell his freedom to another. No Christian is worthy to be the master of other Christians.”
#1 Church growth Factor is...
not: Worship Music ( but style matters along with depth and feel...)
not: Facilities ( but they matter both for function and look and feel..
not: Preaching (but skill, and practical cultural currency is critical... )
not: Technology (but it matters in rooms, in parking lots, on iPhones, and at home... it cannot be ignored or off the cuff)
#1 -->> HOW we, the congregation, interact with PEOPLE matters most of all.
Communications TO the people is just a piece of building COMMUNITY... with the PEOPLE. All tied up in circles of 5ths. -- contact me for more information
It is not possible to just expect community. We all choose. Everyone must choose. Context and activity, even purpose, come into play. Physical proximity is an enabler, but it is far from enough. Without a shared reason, living "together" becomes a chore not a blessing. Only Christ abides with us regardless of condition. We strive towards this prize. #churches #families #neighborhoods
With a shared purpose and context community can exist where members have never even met face to face. Love and respect can be exchanged. Even dissent can be lived together. This "distance" is difficult, it requires more skill and tools to manage, but it does provide community.
My experience has proven that we need all of the above, but that these blessings are just that... they are blessings. We cannot and should not expect them without sacrifice and condition, in this world. In Christ alone we stand indeed. It is not easy, it is simply true.
I enjoyed listening to Cardinal Dolan in NY just now. I agree... Religion is a very personal thing, but it is not private. The secular humanist idea/movement to silence and sideline faithful is in direct opposition to the great commission. Relegating faith and testimony to Jesus as non-essential is insidious. Amplifying secular voice while restricting and minimizing the "church" will not succeed. It never has. Focusing on secular and human ability has however created and spread chaos and tyranny along with pain and suffering whenever it is separated from GOD. History proves this simple fact over and over and over.
Christians must utilize our rights and stand up publicly for our beliefs and principles. Government is not God. Science is not God. Pain and suffering are not God and are certainly not eternal. We are blessed beyond measure to understand and accept the simple truths personally as we share the good news publicly.. in word and deed. Be. Love. Serve. Repeat.
"God fully expects the church of Jesus Christ to prove itself a miraculous group in the very midst of a hostile world. Christians, of necessity, must be in contact with the world but in being and spirit ought to be separated from the world. --- and as such we should be the most amazing people in the world." A W Tozer 1897-1963
“...All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with youalways, to the very end of the age.” Matthew 28:16-20
It is difficult for me to understand actions which elevate the darkness of our world in the face of such hope and light. The birth of the child, any child, is an inestimable miracle and blessing. Jesus birth, savior of the world, shows us the love and hope in the Lord.
It is a choice to embrace the sadness, and the darkness born out of our fallen nature. It is a choice to submit to the fear of the unknown. Faith is hope in the throes of the turmoil and struggle.
Joy comes in the morning. The night is cold and dark, and we must not linger there precisely because we KNOW that the morning is coming.
We as Christians MUST stand and be counted for what we know. I know whom I have believed. It is not the television, or the government. I trust in the name of the Lord of Lords. Jesus loves me in spite of my nature. That is a miracle indeed.
Refuge and relief from evil does not come from logic, laws, nor music, nor art or poetry. Evil and darkness do not recognize reason. We cannot save ourselves but we need to only ask and we are saved. In a moment... Jesus Christ is the light of the world, the way the truth the life... Our hope... He is our refuge and our strength in the face of evil. He lights the way and walks by our side. In him every valley shall be exalted...the crooked straight, and the rough places plain. Look to the heavens friends. Seek ye first the kingdom and his righteousness. And then, all these things will be added unto you.
Virtual Worship is equivalent to Virtual Education in its efficacy. IT FAILS. It specifically fails over duration and at scale.
To clarify, it works a little, to augment a physically connected experience but it is a failure over time as it flips and deprioritizes the relationships and empowers a consumer driven mentality. Teaching and connection between the faithful (students) is paramount. Our society will pay a heavy price for "socially distancing" our ministries... video, TV, televangelism and worship do not make the grade. Literally.
Relationships between people.. social.. are the KEY... to love and authenticity. Jesus did not phone in or video in from heaven. He CAME DOWN to live and be with HIS family.
Authentic community (family) is what we all seek. A faith community must above all be authentic and honest. It’s focus must be on Jesus Christ and the great commission. Social services are not optional but neither are they the goal. If the seeker sees men first and foremost it is difficult, nearly impossible, to see the good news clearly. We must not be obstacles.
Friend asked about black churches, democrats, and D vs R “theology” this am. I responded this way.
Political party affiliation really has nothing to do with Christianity. Period. Worldview and politics are best rendered and focused to Caesar. I love attending “black” churches and all Great commission focused churches. There are plenty, look to left, look to right... and then focus UP. Philippians 4 addresses it perfectly.
For record: All have sinned and fall short of glory. We are saved by Christ... not by govt or politics... or Caesar.
Unity of purpose in great commission does not require uniformity of action. Period. It is a hard reality for all sides. I do not need to understand actions and choices of others if I’m focused on God and my assigned mission. Where I am. As I am. Be. Love. Serve. Repeat.
The choir and collective singing is in the heart of worship. It is powerful, indicting, and comforting, but not always comfortable. Your congregation is essentially a choir. The recent pandemic crisis has restricted almost all communal singing due to the numbers, aerosol science speculations, fear, and the reality that Covid is a serious and dangerous disease for many choral singers due to age, comorbidity and a whole series of issues and complications born out of congregating together.
Is worship suffering? Yes it is.
Are churches growing in the midst of this crisis? Not in nickels and noses that I can see. but maybe in other ways.
My premise is that the absence of congregational and choral singing has reminded us all of how important worship is to our wellbeing. It also exposes a critical gap in many churches engagement models. Fellowship, Sunday School for kids and adults, Bible Study, and Service projects are the lifeblood of our churches.. Worship is a reflection of service.. in a service. It is the lens, the metric, to evaluate our health. When we are faithful and submit to serve and love others… Worship will showcase our hearts.
We must sing together and share songs. This is about more than physical singing. It is about example. Singing is uncomfortable for many because it is an outward and public sharing of heart. This exposes us, and makes us vulnerable. We are so lucky that God covers us.
Cast your burden upon the Lord and He will sustain you.
The Covid crisis has wrecked our traditional idea of church. We used to focus on massive buildings, and huge groups assembled all at one time in one place, sitting together, consuming together like a restaurant.
To succeed going forward, I believe we need to take some lessons from the past, adapt them at a core foundational level, and step out. In place of signs and huge buildings, we do need parking lots and drive through services. (As a concept). More service to more people is best managed by using our buildings as kitchens. Tools, supplies, appliances, and people are there but the goal is to take the actions out into the parking lot, and even do delivery. We MUST meet people where they are and live with them and consume life and God’s blessings with them. We can no longer expect them to walk through the door and take a seat.
Our internet presence and communications capabilities must be primary and funded to help with real-time and non real time connections.
We must invest and manage contacts and delivery at scale. We can use our personal experiences to simply answer the question... this is how i do it, no matter the question. No judgement. No question is off limits. Our example aligns with our words and our community sees us as we are. Broken and imperfect but loved and loving.
Then they can see Jesus and not just us when they look through the windshield. Soon, they may come through the door and start serving with us. We can help with that and we must.
Curb service was always cool. Roller skate and motorcycles and hot rods in the parking lot. It can be again and it can serve the Lord. I believe this is the way.
Every group, family, and relationship has cracks. Here is the thing. When that foundation stone is under intense pressure, it is NOT possible to repair the cracks. If nothing is done, then cracks will widen and eventually the foundations will crumble completely leaving a disaster zone for everything, and everyone connected. The problem to manage is repair, without driving wedges into the cracks and making the problem worse.
In our world today, our families, our churches, our institutions are under immense pressure. Cracks which have been present forever, are being stressed and widened. Many of these “institutions” will suffer catastrophic failures. As a leader in my family, in my church, it is my job to care for the entire system. I seek to repair the cracks, or at least fill them. HOW?
First, I use time to remove pressure and then I find the strong pieces, and use them to carry the load for the weaker sections as we add strength.
The mortar is love, but the solution requires more than simply loving and accepting. It is a balancing act of stress and relief, communication and care and accountability for change. Understanding the true pillars of the foundation is a required step. For me, that is faith and commitment to God.
As a family comes apart, there are flex points.. fulcrums and pressure points. The process is the same for bring one together. We must accept the cracks, and seek to fill them so that we can lift one another and shore up the foundation.
Disagreements must not be allowed to move to contempt.
Actions and decisions affecting the “whole” must take into account the needs of the individuals.
People are equal. Ideas and solutions are not. Decisions and actions separate but they also unite when connected to a shared purpose. Unity of purpose does not require uniformity of action, but it does require a shared understanding and direction.
FAMILY. FAITH. These are flawed and cracked… but the foundations rooted in stone, rather than sand will stand the pressure… and by working together, we can find a way to avoid collapse. IF… we choose to do so.
For me, it is unacceptable to see the coming failure and do nothing, but doing something must not spread divide and weaken the whole. We must agree on the definition of the whole.
The vision to move on with life embracing faith and fellowship over fear and isolation threatens the houses of sand for many in power. Reputation, position, even authority is shifting. A powerful vision. evokes fierce opposition from many who are comfortable and just want to return to how it was “before”.
Our times are a chrysalis. We will emerge and fly soon enough. God is in command and evolving HIs space and time around us as He decides. We are changing and when we live in Him we are remade...literally. EVERYTHING CHANGES.
Tutto cambia. Vedo la luce.
Will you seek a future filled with faith and hope, rooted in love? Now is the time to decide. Don’t be one of the millions who is acting a part, performing for man rather than worshipping a loving and living God.
The loss of choral singing is crippling our families, churches, schools, and society in general. #ChoirIsLife - Singing soothes the savage beast of our souls.
Tech and AudioVisual personnel are the new normal linchpins. EVERY institution needs competent, professional, execution and delivery architecture.
In the RONAreality of 2020+ leaders better pay them and love them and respect them. Period.
Intersection of principles and practices...