Sustainable

2 comments Written on September 12th, 2014     
Filed under: Uncategorized

by Chris Logan

My time as a church-planter living in Australia back in 2006 changed my outlook on a lot of things, most of them positive. I got to learn from some pretty big names in the missional church world, to experience what missional Christianity (or, as I call it, “Christianity”) can be like first-hand, and I got to learn by doing. My theology was radically challenged for the better, and even learned a few new fun words like “liminality” and “contextualization” and “knickers” (although that last one may only have been because I was in Australia).

But I nearly didn’t go into worship ministry after – because of – my time there.

Nobody could adequately answer for me what place a worship gathering – and by extension, those who design them – had in this brave new/ancient missional paradigm. What was one to do with a “worship service” in the life of a “sent” church? Put another way, if we’re people engaged in God’s mission to build the Kingdom of God by serving the weak and oppressed, the alien and the widow, the gentile, with all the different sort of social and financial pressures associated with that, why would we selfishly spend that money and time and social capital on a pastor to “lead worship” or on a building in which to gather when those things, historically, have been the central problems for consumeristic Christianity? Don’t the really spiritual people move to the slums or the inner city or overseas? Or, if you’re less spiritual, shouldn’t you stay in your suburban neighborhood and have deep meaningful conversations over (free-trade, organic) coffee with your neighbors and eventually all sell most of your stuff and start have a communal garden and share your yard equipment and give your excess money to the poor? Isn’t that true spirituality? Isn’t music a luxury, not a necessity?

In light of the world’s crazy issues, why bother singing together when we could be out serving?

I felt so guilty for feeling called to worship ministry. But the Calling wouldn’t go away.

Because the answer is no: gathering together is not optional, nor is music a luxury. In fact, good music, well-led music, intentionally missional music is a necessity. Not a single culture is without music because our music (and really, all art) is a vessel for our identity. Who we are can be found in our music, but more importantly, it can shape who we must become. What we sing together helps us form our individual and collective identities – we also become what we sing. Which means that, if we are the sent people of God, we had better sing songs together of our identity as sent children of a creative God, of the mission, of the Kingdom the mission is building.

Here’s the rub: if we stop singing, all the conferences and free-trade coffee and money given to the poor with good intentions and service opportunities will eventually dry up. People without art in their lives become bitter, and bitter people stop making good choices and certainly don’t help others see the Kingdom. Good music isn’t simply a consumable good; our music can also keep us focused on the the vision, who we are, how we must then act. Without that inspiration, without the ear worm reminding us why we do what we do, without the language to express our joys and frustrations, our work will become stale and eventually slow or even cease.

True, investing in all that is required to have a good worship ministry is not “efficient,” but that which is of the Kingdom of God rarely is. The Kingdom is not brought about by some western business model, it’s a way of life made sustainable by (mostly) small choices that add up. And it’s in creating and curating intentional space that worship pastors help people to first be, rather than do, so that we can then go. It’s that space that makes this new/ancient missional way sustainable. And one of the centers of that space is music.

Don’t stop singing.

 

Chris Logan is the Director of Worship and Technology at First Covenant Church in Omaha, NE and an ECC Worship Artist who is currently open to Call. This post appears concurrently on his blog and is used with permission.

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2 comments “Sustainable”

Good words, Chris. I remember a quote by JI Packer I think, something like, “Praise energizes prayer, and prayer energizes service.”

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Truth!  Chris, you have a wonderful way to putting great thoughts into words.  Thank you for sharing your gift with us.  

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