In the Moment

3 comments Written on August 24th, 2013     
Filed under: Formation, Leadership, Vocational Excellence

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

NOLA-JAZZ-SAXWhen I was in sixth grade, I desperately wanted to join the jazz band. I loved the sound of jazz and wanted, more than anything, to learn how to play. But I ran into a snag when, despite her willingness to write multiple flute parts, the director refused to write a part for french horn. Horn just isn’t a jazz instrument, she said, you should stick to classical music.

While I wish this was an inspirational tale about how I proved her wrong (despite the fact that I’m very aware of a few jazz horn players), this is not that story. Basically, I said “fine” and stubbornly learned to play saxophone. But I’m really glad that I did. Sax, to me, is a very free instrument, especially for jazz. It has a sultry tone to it, a dark amber that glides over notes the way water cascades over rocks. It’s an instrument built for improvisational jazz.

The thing about improvisation is that, in my experience, it’s totally misunderstood. Contrary to popular belief, jazz improv has very little to do with making things up on the spot, and in point of fact, requires enormous preparation. One must learn the chord changes, hear the backbeat, feel the groove, and above all, know the instrument so well that mind and fingers and air and instrument become one. Born talent and learned skill must go hand in hand with intuition and preparation. To improvise music first requires that we do the due dilligence of learning and understanding the rules, so that then we can break them intelligently, on purpose, with intent. And if we prepare well, when it comes time to play in the moment, it is effortless and feels free like nothing else.

It’s kind of like leading worship.


Standing on stage in front of a congregation for preaching or leading music or even announcements requires an enormous amount of prep work, but it often appears as though we’re talking or singing (or whatever) off the tops of our heads. But unless we’ve gone through the rigor of understanding the WHY of the set – the story of the gathering, the theology of the music and scripture, the experience and training of speaking and playing, and above all, developing our ears to hear the voice of God as He speaks to us through the week – unless we’ve done our best to prepare, then when it comes time to be present, in the moment, on sunday morning (or whenever), we’re not leading with integrity. Intention requires preparation.

To put it another way, when we don’t do our part to follow the Spirit in advance, we don’t give the Spirit much to work with in the moment. We need to let God prepare us, because when God DOES move spontaneously in a new direction, we’ll be so used to hearing His voice that to change our plans will glide like dark amber, like water cascading down rocks.

Like jazz.

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3 comments “In the Moment”

Oh to have the ability to write what my heart speaks. Well…maybe having the ability isn’t the issue…perhaps it’s having the platform. Regardless, thanks for capturing a tiny corner of my heart and putting into the word that I cannot seem to convey…

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Brilliant truths Chris… Thanks and Amen! -Glenn

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