Archives for category: communication

We are told in John 1 that “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God.” Upon continued reading of John 1 you can come to find out that the “Word” in this sense is, of course, Jesus. Jesus existed before the creation of the world because he actually is God. 

The Bible is also known as the Word of God. It is no accident that you are supposed to connect Jesus with the Bible. They are inseparable. When you speak of Jesus you are speaking of the Bible, and vice versa. 

This really struck me this morning while reading my Bible. We just got back in town from a road trip and, just as normally happens when you go on a trip, things have been a bit disorganized. In the process of coming back from North Carolina somehow my Bible ended up in the trunk of the car. When you live in a city going out to the car to get something is a big ordeal. It involves having to get fully dressed, going down a flight of stairs opening two heavy exterior doors, crossing a large parking lot, walking down the street, retrieving your object, and then repeating those steps. If it is snowing that is a whole different ordeal.

So, my Bible sat in the trunk for a few days. In the meantime I read Leah’s Bible, but honestly it wasn’t the same.

When I sat down to read this morning I said to my Bible “Hello, old friend.”

Then, it struck me… in a lot of ways the Bible has become my friend. Though it seems odd to feel that way about in inanimate object, this personification seems really appropriate. If Jesus, the Word of God, is inseparable from the Bible, the Word of God, I feel like it makes plenty of sense to have an interpersonal relationship with your Bible.

If I am going to have a “friendship” with my Bible, how does that friendship grow? I would suggest that it  grows in the same way that any other friendship does… through trials and tragedies and difficult circumstances. Nothing brings two people together like having them go through something difficult together. I would suggest the same about your Bible.

I wake up most mornings before 3am to go to work. During that time I usually read a chapter or two from the Bible to set my heart on God for the rest of the day. In a lot of ways this daily ritual is a necessity. Over the course of the day I will literally spiral down into despair if I don’t intentionally spend that time filling my heart with God’s Word.

If the old hymn is correct and we really do “have a friend in Jesus” I believe we could justifiably say “what a friend we have in Bible”.

For Father’s Day my wife bought me “Life Together” by Dietrich Bonhoeffer. It was written while Bonhoeffer was leading an underground seminary in Nazi Germany during WWII. The purpose of the book is to give the seminary students a picture of what is would look like to live in a true, healthy Christian community, especially during such an adverse situation as Nazi occupation.

At one point in the second chapter Bonhoeffer brings up the practice of singing hymns together as a community. He spends a great deal of time talking about the beauty of a community uniting in one voice to sing praises to God. But then he said something that I didn’t expect:

“There are some destroyers of unison singing that should be rigorously eliminated. There is no place in the service of worship where vanity and bad taste can so intrude as in singing.”

He then went on to completely tear apart the idea that people would do things like sing in harmony or sing solos:

“…the improvised second part… attempts to give the necessary background, the missing fullness to the soaring unison tone. There is the bass or the alto who must call everybody’s attention to his astonishing range and therefore sings every hymn an octave lower. There is the solo voice that goes swaggering, swelling, blaring, and tremulant from a full chest and drowns out everything else to the glory of its own fine organ.”

Wow. That is intense.

However, it makes me really think about the way we do worship in modern, evangelical churches. I am not so quick as to assert that all worship leaders are pride-filled soloists that drown out everything else to the “glory of its own organ”. However, Bonhoeffer does hit a nail on the head here.

There is definitely a tendency to become prideful because of your musical talent (or video talent or preaching talent). It makes me wonder if it wouldn’t be helpful from time to time to take brief Sabbaths from our talents for the sake of our own pride. Just throwing that out there.

So this is how this would look:

If you are talented with video, have a service where you do no video work at all. If you are talented with singing, have a service where you do congregational singing instead of led singing. If you are talented with preaching, bring someone else in to preach that Sunday that isn’t an intellectual equal. I’m sure that it could be extremely healthy to be regularly reminded that church will still happen regardless of our involvement.

I passed a church sign in my home town the other day that said:

CAN WE NOT SEE OUR NEED FOR JESUS?

So, there is nothing inherently wrong with this sign. As Christians we affirm that we do need Jesus. However, asking the question in such a public forum as a church sign shows that as a church we are asking the wrong questions of society.

Asking “Can we not see our need for Jesus?” to a society that rejects faith would be met with a resounding “NO!” We can not see our need for Jesus. That’s obvious in that people do reject Jesus… actively everyday. I guess there is a possibility that the question was rhetorical and that they were trying to make a subtle point in their sign’s message. However, church signs have never been much of a forum for subtly. I’m going to assume the worst.

Anyway, I just wanted to say that we should not assume that the society we are trying to reach sees the world through the same eyes that we do. They have different ideas, different values, and they see the world in a lot different way. They don’t look at their messed up lives and think “we need Jesus” like we do. In fact, that is what differentiates us from the rest of the world. When we see our brokenness we see Jesus as the cure. The rest of the world has all sorts of different cures: more money, health, family stability.

So yeah… Christians don’t think the same as the rest of the world. We don’t speak the same language. We don’t even understand the same concepts. Let’s stop assuming that what we say means anything to anyone else… at least with our church signs.

I’m a Mac guy. I own all sorts of Apple products.

I will admit right now that I am severely caught up in the “coolness” of exclusively purchasing Apple products. There is something affirming about sitting at a table at a coffee shop with an over-priced cup of ethically-traded, shade-grown coffee and opening up my laptop so that the soft glow of the Apple logo bursts forth from the brushed silver casing of my MacBook Pro.

With that said, I want to share my opinion on something.

Over the years I have used a variety of different technologies to display words at a church. When I was a kid I changed transparencies on the overhead projector that shown on the white walls inside our sanctuary. I’ve used Powerpoint. I’ve used SongShow. I’ve used MediaShout once or twice.

I have never used a program that had an interface that worked quite as well as ProPresenter loaded on an Apple computer.

At the church I used to work at I purchased an iMac loaded with ProPresenter. For years we had used a PC running SongShow. That method worked well, but there was a pretty long learning curve for volunteers running the software. I would make a volunteer do at least 3 “practice runs” with SongShow before I let them use it on Sunday morning.

With ProPresenter I can give someone a 3 minute tutorial on Sunday morning before a service and trust them to do a decent job of running the slides.

It’s just a lot easier to navigate in a live setting.

Take it or leave it.

I’ve been avoiding writing about the role of a sound technician (or audio engineer) for a long time… mostly because I am a sound technician and I don’t want to come off as self-important. Forgive me if I convey those kinds of implications. That is not my intention.

Your sound technician is extremely important to your church (how’s that for humility?). Your sound technician has a rare power to completely shut down the progress of a worship service. He (I’ll use the male pronoun here because I am drawing from personal experiences. I fully recognize that woman could just as easily be a successful sound tech.) has a hand in every single thing that goes on during the service. In most churches the sound tech is rarely (or never) allowed to take sick days or vacations. This is because there is usually not a second person at your church that can operate the sound board.

In the most basic form, your sound tech allows everyone in the service to hear everything that is going on. However, if they embrace their job as bigger than that, they can potentially be a serious part of the artistic composition of the worship service.

A good sound technician is hard to come by, especially for what a church is willing to pay. If 90% of your worship services do not have a noticeable sound issue (mic clips, feedback, video without audio) you are extremely lucky.

Tell your audio engineer that they are doing a great job. It will be a pleasant break from hearing “the drums are too loud” over and over and over and over.

A lot of people do really annoying things on Twitter. Here is a fun little list of things you can do on Twitter that will result in me un-following you:

  • Foursquare updates. There are two people in this world that I have a desire to know the whereabouts of at all times: my son and my wife. Please don’t let me know that you checked in at the Taco Palace on 98th St. and that you earned the “I can’t stop eating quesadillas” badge.
  • Asking questions that have the sole purpose of generating “@” replies. For instance: “Who is your favorite Jersey Shore cast member?” or “If you could have lunch with one character from the Bible who would it be?” Some people will fall for your trap. However, more people than you know realize that you are just trying to create traffic.
  • Not replying to my “@” replies. If I take the time to engage you in a conversation on Twitter, please have the respect for me to answer me when I ask you a question. I don’t care how many followers you have. This is especially annoying when I see that you took the time to reply to other people who say things like “@dudebro18 You are so awesome and handsome! I just can’t get over how awesome and handsome you are!”
  • Constantly posting about mundane activities. I’m ok with the occasional “I had this really great pile of tasty squirrel meat for dinner tonight.”… but I don’t need a play by play.
  • Making boring announcements. This one is difficult to deal with, especially for churches. You have to take the time to creatively say things. “Come to the men’s group tonight at 6pm in the Fellowship Hall” is not an interesting tweet. “The men have cooked up a great pile of tasty squirrel meat. They will be consuming it with their bare hands at 6pm tonight.” is a little better. I regularly do a bad job with this one.
  • Constantly re-tweeting. If all you can do is pass along other peoples’ ideas, you probably shouldn’t be using Twitter. Once again, re-tweets are ok from time to time… just don’t make it your only form of communication. This is especially annoying when you follow a bunch of Christians. They all re-tweet the same people. When Donald Miller tweets about how great his poop was this morning I hear about it from 45 people.

Pastors like to put off a vibe that makes you think that they have everything under control. Sometimes they do it knowingly, but I would assume that it was probably ingrained in them from the beginnings of their seminary education. I know that pastors aren’t the only ones that do this, but there is a definite tendency when you are in pastoral leadership to gloss over the truth of their sinfulness.

There is something that I want all pastors (especially older pastors) to understand about younger generations. We don’t want you to have it all together. We don’t want you to keep implying that your greatest sin is overeating and occasionally speeding. We want you to be honest. We want you to say that you struggle. We want you to say that you are daily tempted with the same sins that we are tempted with.

We want a leader that is willing to stand up under the weight of self-preservation and apologize when they are wrong. We want a leader that is willing to exemplify the saving grace of Jesus through their own transgressions.

Who would decide that they need to get out of their adultery or stop making money their idol or stop hitting their kids because of an illustration about going 51mph in a 45mph zone?

Let’s get real with ourselves and our congregations.

Sometimes when you are online you think about clicking on something you aren’t supposed to click on. Sometimes you wish evil on people that hurt your feelings. Sometimes when you look at a young, unmarried mom you first think about what she did to get herself in that situation rather than seeing her through the graceful, redemptive, loving eyes of Jesus.

I know you do that stuff… because I do it too.

You see, the younger generations have grown up in a world saturated with church scandal. We’ve heard about pedophile Catholic priests and self-loathing gay-bashers that are secretly entertaining male prostitutes since we could tie our own shoes. We don’t want to put you on the same destructive pedestals of idolatry that those leaders stood upon.

We want you to be honest about your struggles lest you fall into the same snares of temptation of those that have brought shame to the name of God. We are desperate for an honest leader that cares enough about his followers to develop an atmosphere of honesty and regular confession.

We want you to live the debilitating struggle and hardship of an honest Christian life publically so that we can look to your example when we are inevitably tempted to choose the eternal pain of hell over the beauty and freedom of the resurrected Christ.