Browsing Category: Worship

Beautiful Words

Mark Pierson opens a chapter of his book, The Art of Curating Worship, with this beautiful poem by Mike Riddell. His words describe beautifully the awakening that is needed and that I sense is coming. I can feel it. And I burst with excitement with I catch glimpses of it.

We come from far and wide;
We have our own stories to tell who we are
Stories of places and people and experiences
Tales of discovery and disappointment

Somewhere between there and here,
God has become a part of our adventure;
Part of our walking and speaking and breathing,
In us and through us and before us

We have joined our lives with the story of Christ,
And begun to act as if it were true;
Taking the words to be gospel,
And the sound of them to be the breath of life

Sometime between then and now,
God has come to dwell among us,
Breathing the Spirit into our hearts
So that we may see and hear and feel.

With our friends and fellow travelers,
We have measured our days by the kingdom
And our nights by the joy of salvation;
Seeking what is lost within us

We are the substance of Christ’s dreaming
The first-fruits and the foretaste
The small and suffering people
In whom Christ has pleased to dwell

But we are also the lost children;
The straying sheep and the dishonest servants,
The rich young fools and the rock-bearing elders,
The timid followers and the traitorous disciples.

We often forget the story which came to us,
Preferring order to uncertainty;
Orthodoxy to love,
And religious piety to unmerited grace

Come to us again, Lord Jesus,
And whisper your words of welcome;
Fill our hearts with reckless wonder,
And our minds with splendid nonsense

Awake in us the dream of the kingdom;
Resurrect our dead and perished visions;
Alert us to the heaven in our midst;
And quicken us to laugh and love

Here we have no lasting city;
No temple nor castle nor club;
Here we have no religious refuge
In which to hide from your gratuitous chaos

So make us to be the dwelling of Christ,
The holy shelter in which the flame may burn;
That the story may go on and the truth be told,
And mercy come to your good earth.


The Art of Curating Worship pgs. 54-56

Saving the Church?

“The arts will save the Church.”

I’ve heard that said countless times in the last couple of months and I’ve even said it myself. But, the more I’ve been thinking about it, the more something about that phrase just doesn’t sit right with me.

Don’t get me wrong, I firmly believe that the arts can have a very meaningful and sacred place in worship. They can both guide people to the Father’s feet and be a response of worship when sitting there. However, I think saying they will save the church is giving them entirely too much power. To be honest, I’m not sure that the Church even needs saving. And if it does, I think it’s a bit presumptuous of any of us to think that something we do will save it.

Now here’s the thing, I understand what most people who say something like that mean…where they’re coming from and what they’re getting at. But, I think that language…one of something we do saving the Church…is a dangerous one…one that will slowly change our motivations if we’re not careful.

Honestly, that realization is a relief to me…it takes away a lot of pressure. Does that mean I stop using my creative and artistic gifts to serve the Church in worship? Absolutely not. But, it does mean that I remember that the Church doesn’t need me or my art or creativity. That at the end of the day I’m simply asked to pour out what has been given to me.

I just can’t shake a question that’s been nagging at me for months…what would it look like if “better” art or “more” creativity wasn’t our focus. I wonder if a focus on truly living out the faith we claim to have as a community of believers would result in expressions of worship far beyond anything we could ever imagine because they wouldn’t be born out of a creative brainstorming session but rather an encounter with the living God as we walk in relationship with Him.

I don’t have the answers of what that “should” look like…or even necessarily if the Church “should” look like that to begin with. I just like to ask the inconvenient questions. :)



I’ll be honest, I’m 100% guilty of too often not dying to my artistic pride. I too often sit in judgement of people I deem as not “getting it.” I can be overly critical. I can analyze and pick apart for hours on end. My friends know not to ask me to filter something unless they want an honest critique.

Now, I recognize that questioning and analyzing to some degree is a healthy practice. But, too many times I take it to an unhealthy extreme. And in doing so I think I end up doing just as much damage, if not more, to the Church as those I am criticizing for hurting the Church…or maybe just the perception of the Church in the world (that could be a whole separate post…can we really hurt the Church anyway?)

If I’ve learned anything in the last couple of years it’s that there isn’t one “right way” to do most things in the Church and corporate worship. I’ve learned that a whole lot of it is personal preference. And in the end a whole lot of it doesn’t really matter anyway. I’m learning which hills to die on…and to die in service and humility, not because of artistic pride.

So, tell me, do you often lose the battle with your artistic pride too or am I the only one?

Story Isn’t a Strategy

I love the concept of story. I believe in the power of story and would call myself a storyteller. Story based communication is often the most powerful and has the longest lasting impact and potential to incite transformation and action. Bottom line: story is good.

However, I think we (I’m including myself in that) get dangerously close to using story as the latest “technique” or “strategy.” And I think in the process we are going to ruin it. Story is powerful because it’s relational and God designed us to be relational beings. When we turn it into a strategy or technique we strip away that relational quality.

I think we’d see a greater impact if we stopped trying so hard to tell a good story and instead we focused on simply living a good story. Because if we live a good story I think communicating in story will naturally flow out of that. I think we need to find a way to be intentional without being strategic. When we become too strategic we quickly lose focus of why we are really doing what we’re doing in the first place.

How do we do that? Short answer: I don’t know. I think I know what it looks like when I see it, but I can’t yet define how to get there. And maybe I never will…maybe it looks different for each individual/organization.

What are your thoughts? Agree? Disagree?

The Problem with Church Isn’t Church

I mentioned in a post the other day that I’ve been struggling lately with corporate worship. Corporate worship settings often aren’t the place where I worship with complete abandon. They aren’t often the places where I am left in complete awe & wonder of God and my heart is without words as I consider His power and glory. Honestly, over the last several months I feel like I’ve had more powerful moments of worship driving down the road in my car. Something about this bothers me. Maybe it should, maybe it shouldn’t, but it does. I want to be able to worship completely and authentically with other believers on a Sunday morning.

For too long I’ve sat and blamed this fact on churches. I criticize what I see as “high production.” I get frustrated with the “noise” I feel some churches create. All the while I’m forgetting that there are hundreds of thousands of people who are worshipping with complete abandon in the very settings that I’m criticizing.

A couple of weeks ago the lightbulb went on…
Maybe it’s not so much the particular church or the worship setting or style that’s the problem…maybe it’s me.

I think oftentimes we get so busy critiquing or looking for an opportunity to throw punches from the sidelines that we don’t give our hearts a chance to simply worship. I know that’s been the case for me recently. The solution isn’t changing every church and corporate worship gathering in America to be what I think it should be. The solution is adjusting my focus and the mindset of my heart when I walk into those places to worship.