Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Stories Developing Next 2 the Tracks #5

Lately, I have encountered a lot of people who claim to be atheist and who reject the very idea of God or even a higher power. Many of these people have had very difficult religious experiences growing up so their idea of God is very different than mine. To be honest, I don't believe in the God that was presented to them either. What I find is that it is very difficult for these people to reframe God or to think of God in a different way than what was taught to them and what was used to control and even abuse them in some cases. I believe that we are called to be part of the healing process in these situations and not just try to convince them of something different. Healing comes from within and as people heal they can begin to think about things differently. While people are hurt, it is very difficult, if possible at all to convince them of a different reality with arguments. The model of evangelism we have encountered in the Age of Reason has been to convince people of God instead of loving people to God. Doing evangelism this way is difficult because we don't receive instant gratification and often don't ever see the results of our effort, but in my experience it has been the most effective way to help someone know God's love and grace. As we celebrate Advent and soon, Christmas, let's prepare a place for God by loving those around us in the best ways that we know how.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

indie bands and indie churches

Lots of cool things seem to happen in Deming, NM. One time when we played there we met these two guys. We were talking music with them and one of them was a musician. We were asking them what they liked and they were saying that "indie" music was where it's at. That word can mean so many different things we asked them to say more about it. The general idea that was communicated is that "indie" bands don't sell out or compromise their art. I think this is something that is changing. More and more people seem to appreciate self-expression over quality or popularity. This is a tension for most bands if not all of them, to express themselves and create art and find a way for that art to be popular. The diversity of the world is making it possible for a niche artist to reach a niche audience. Popular music is getting less and less popular as people are finding the things that really move them, or even more important, people are supporting artists that they have a relationship with. There are plenty of mainstream bands, just like there are plenty of mainstream churches. Perhaps the culture is lending itself to "indie" churches right now as well. Maybe the focus of a band shouldn't be to be popular or mainstream, but to express themselves in a way that connects with people though the art and through relationships. The same is true of churches, mainstream churches can connect with or start what can be called "emerging churches." This kind of church is missional, relational and incarnational. It will look completely different depending on the people that make it up and the talents they share as well as the community it exists within. These churches are popping up with increasing frequency all over the country and the world. The connection of the mainstream and the indie may be the key to the future of the church as well as the future of the music industry.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Stories developing Next 2 the Tracks #3

After a show once, a young man came up to us and started asking about our instruments and things. This is not uncommon, as many musicians like to talk about music and what we play and why.  In the midst of this conversation, the story changed however. He asked us about our songs and said that he could tell we are singing about God even though we aren't doing it overtly. We agreed and began a conversation about his life. He began to get very serious and told us about some very personal things. He told us his story about how he was in the military and some of the things that he experienced during that time. He talked to us about family stuff, and other personal issues. He told us how he searched for God through some of the bad things that had gone on in his life. As we conversed he told us how important God was in his life and how he knows that he has to keep on seeking what is true and keep on trying to do what is right, no matter what. He was very excited about this conversation and said that he realized how important it is not to be discouraged and to take responsibility for his actions and his life. We shared struggles with him and we talked about some things we can all do amidst our struggling. We will probably never see him again, but for a night, our stories intersected.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Stories Developing Next 2 the Tracks #2

I have found that some of the greatest opportunities to share the love and hope of Jesus Christ seem to develop when I am playing with my band (Next 2 the Tracks), promoting my band, or connecting with other bands. I want to share some stories and hopefully these will resonate with you in a way that helps us all to see God working and playing more in the world and discovering what we can do to join God in what is already being done....

We played a show in Deming, NM once. We decided we need to do that more often, as well as visit other small towns that often get overlooked by rock bands. We played at this small brewery in the middle of town that was very cool. People were there watching college football and by the end of the night we attracted quite a crowd. We hung out as long as we could before we had to rush to Las Cruces to play another show but it was really cool to connect to the people of Deming. In bigger towns where rock bands play all the time, people can take it for granted, but not in Deming. People were so overjoyed that we would come to their town and play music there. They even asked us why we were there. I talked to the bartender about his hopes and dreams and what he wanted to do. He was very willing to share his personal life and we had a great talk about life and the future. There was another couple there that were older than our normal crowd, but they loved our music and were very anxious to see when they could come and hang out again. The rest of the band talked to a lot of other people and we kind of had to rush to get out of there, but when people and places are often overlooked, it is very meaningful when they are included and appreciated. Israel was a very small community of people that was often overlooked, but God used the underdog to show the presence and promises of God to the world. This small group of people was the community that Jesus was born out into and who’s traditions and practices have helped to for what the church is today. Who do you see as an underdog, and how can you include them?

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Stories developing Next 2 the Tracks #1

I have found that some of the greatest opportunities to share the love and hope of Jesus Christ seem to develop when I am playing with my band (Next 2 the Tracks), promoting my band, or connecting with other bands. I want to share some stories and hopefully these will resonate with you in a way that helps us all to see God working and playing more in the world and discovering what we can do to join God in what is already being done....

A few months ago we were playing at Ft. Bliss Army Base in El Paso, TX. It was amazing to me how appreciative the people there were that we came and played for them. I lived in the El Paso area for a long time and we have played show after show there but there was something different about when we went to them. We played for 4 hours and the people went crazy. We stayed and hung out, listened to people’s stories, and met tons of new friends until everything shut down on base for the night. People wanted to take pictures and help us load our gear. It was a really great show!

The thing that struck me is that none of these people came to any of our other shows that we promoted and advertised. But, when we went to where they lived and where they hung out, not only were they accepting and appreciative, but they were genuinely honored and amazed that we would come hang out with them. They thanked us over and over again and we were were in awe because we were honored to be there and to be a part of people’s lives that do so much to serve and protect others. When I think about the church, I wonder if we are missing out on this. We do most of what we do inside our church buildings and want people to come, not even to a neutral place, but to where we hang out and live, so that we can do ministry to them. Next 2 the Tracks went to Fort Bliss and didn’t just perform for them or rock their world, but we rocked with them. We lived with them for a night, we shared with them, we told our stories and they shared so much about their lives with us. We talked about life and pain, we talked about loss and fear, we talked about their journeys all over the world and where God is in their lives and in the world. All of this happened because we went to them. We went to their turf where they were in their greatest comfort zone. Luke 9 reads: "When Jesus had called the Twelve together, he gave them power and authority to drive out all demons and to cure diseases, and he sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal the sick. He told them: “Take nothing for the journey—no staff, no bag, no bread, no money, no extra shirt. Whatever house you enter, stay there until you leave that town. If people do not welcome you, shake the dust off your feet when you leave their town, as a testimony against them.” So they set out and went from village to village, proclaiming the good news and healing people everywhere." How can we not just go to church, but be the church on the turf of others?

Thursday, June 23, 2011

back to writing

this is a great TED talk and is a great launching point to get back to my blog again!