Calling

6 comments Written on October 25th, 2013     
Filed under: Formation, Music, Vocation and Call

Today’s post is written by Chris Logan, Pastor of Worship Arts at Community Covenant Church in Lenexa, KS.

My call to ministry is a bit eclectic. Everyone – including me – expected me to grow up and go into some sort of science. I did a high school internship with my AP Bio teacher. I took every AP science our high school had to offer and I aced most of them. But in college (where I began as a neuroscience major), God began using what had always felt like more of a hobby – music – to give me a bigger picture of the world, and as any artist knows, when you open that bottle, there’s no going back. I began leading worship a lot, did a worship ministry internship, and grew increasingly passionate about the idea of leading God’s people in song. The more I thought and prayed, the more I saw the content of my life leading to this career.

life_calling_by_paullus23-d5e2rxzBut following graduation, when my wife and I moved to Australia to be part of a church-planting team, I began to have serious questions about my call to worship ministry. Even though I’m a third-culture kid (Swiss-American), for the first time, I began to step outside of my American roots and see my home culture from a new perspective. I began to see that the western church (no, not just the American church) has embedded within it a strong consumer problem, and the longer I engaged the team of church planters and the poor of inner-city Melbourne through my FORGE internship, the less I wanted to be a part of that. God had called us as the sent people, to go to make disciples of all nations, but it felt like all we’d accomplished was to drag people to a building for an hour a week to guilt them into giving money. We weren’t making disciples (the American church is in decline), and it seemed that the only solution to ending consumer-driven Christianity was to stop doing the very thing to which I felt called.

That is a lonely place to be: stuck between calling and conscience.

But the Scriptures tell us not to forsake gathering together. While that could look a lot of different ways (and does, as I’ve discovered in my travels), it means that there is something different about the thing we do when we gather. There is a reason we come together that’s not available otherwise, and to proverbially (as it were) throw the baby out with the bathwater is no solution to that tension.

The tension between my calling and conscience began to resolve itself during my time in seminary (an act of obedience in the midst of this turmoil), and has been a source of motivation for me ever since. If the scriptures call us to be the gathered people of God, it also calls us to be the sent people of God. We gather, and we are sent, to be gathered again, and sent again. It turned out that it’s not an either/or, but a both/and, a rhythm for us to engage rather than a hard choice to make.

goldfish-jumping-out-of-bowl

If we only gather, we do not fulfill the command of Jesus to love others as we love ourselves, nor His command to make disciples. Being sent is the very imitation of Jesus Himself – the Son of God who left the community of the Triune God to become incarnate among His creation for their redemption and reconciliation. And yet, to be the gathered people is also the imitation of the Triune God, of Father, Son, and Spirit in the eternal dance of community, the very reason by which the Son was sent in the first place. If we are only sent, we burn out, we become cynical and jaded.

To be the people of God, we must gather.

And our songs can remind us of this reality and this rhythm. The arts are a language unto themselves for encouragement, to spur us on towards love and good deeds, to participate in the re-creation and reconciliation of the world with its Creator. Whether in song or melody, in paint and canvas or in poetry, in dance or in sculpture, or in a myriad of other mediums, the arts are a call onward and upward into the mountains of a new reality, of a kingdom that is simultaneously now and coming. God, the lover and author of beauty, speaks to us through the Spirit-inspired creativity of His people. Together we sing a song of hope, that God has not abandoned us for distant shores, but to the contrary, draws close and invites into participating in His restoration.

Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you all see the Day approaching. [Hebrews 10:19-25]

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6 comments “Calling”

Yes! Both/and Chris! Thanks so much, great writ. -Glenn

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Thanks Glenn 🙂

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Way to go third culture kids! (that’s all of us, I take it.) We can manage the tensions rather than fix the problems. More fun and less stressful too.

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Welcome Chris! Oh, I just re-read and payed more attention also to the pics… sometimes we are sent and led from the larger fishbowl to the smaller one. Not very “western” but He does lead that way at times (“He must increase, I must decrease”). I know you know that, just sayin’ as I reflected more on the artwork here 🙂

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Interesting Glenn – I think it depends on how you view the fishbowl. For me, working in a small town was making my fishbowl bigger, as I increased my understanding of another new culture, the way our farmers live and work in a rhythm very different from my own, but how Jesus speaks to that culture in a way that took me time to see. I think too, the idea of Jesus leading us as the same size fish into a bigger fishbowl DOES make Him increase – we’re not always up to the task of the bigger bowl, we require His strength to swim in currents that can drown us, as it were.

But I guess what you can take from that is that I’m always good for playing with a metaphor 😉

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I’ve always noticed that what might seem like a bad step or an unusually step can lead to a much greater understand of what is intended for us, even if it closes off some of our options it’s best in the long run.

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