ABCs of Missional Living (SC Baptist Convention)

•March 22, 2012 • Leave a Comment

The following is an pamphlet produced by the Adult Ministry Office of the South Carolina Baptist Convention called “ABCs of Missional Living.”

 ABCs of Missional Living

Our mission in life does not begin with us — it begins with God. We wonder what we can DO for God. DO begins with the fourth letter of the alphabet. The three letters before after D help us understand God’s mission for us.

A – Awareness When God makes us aware of needs around us, He is revealing his work and His will to us. God gives us eyes and ears so our hearts can see and hear the world around us and know where He is working.

B – Burden God does not expect us to meet every need we see. However, when He burdens us about a specific need, then He is calling us to join Him in demonstrating His love and power to those with the need.

C – Choice When God reveals His will to us, we must choose whether we will obey. Our choice reveals what we believe about God and the depth of our love for Him. Be careful of saying “yes” to God only when you feel equipped for the assignment. He may want you to experience His power at work through you, so you will grow in faith and come to know Him more intimately.

D – Do We do not need to dream of ways to serve God. We must do what He calls us to do. God may give assignments that use our abilities, experience, and wisdom, but He is not limited by what we can do. It is God at work in us and through us that makes the difference in the lives of others. So, let Him do His work—through you!

E – Evangelism When we do our good deeds, we show the love of God to others. However, when we fail to share the gospel, we are no better than good people and organizations in the world that care about helping others. We must show love AND share Christ!

F – Follow Through When we allow God to love others through us and then tell them about the good news of forgiveness and life through Jesus Christ, many will come to follow Him as disciples. Those we lead to the Lord, we are responsible to teach to live for the Lord.

G – Glory Jesus said, “My Father is glorified by this: that you produce much fruit and prove to be My disciples.”John 15:8 (HCSB). The fruit of a missional life is disciples who follow Jesus and lead others to Him. Disciples are disciple makers bringing glory to God.

Worship Q & A with Dr. Curt Watke and Mark Powers

•March 14, 2012 • Leave a Comment

Q&A with Dr. Curt Watke, PHD, Intercultural Institute for Contextual Ministry:

Worship in Cultural Contexts   (edited by Mark Powers from e-mail exchange)

 

Curt,

I’ve really been trying to process this whole idea of worship within a cultural context. Here’s my question: If we are worshiping within a blended context, forcing people to worship in many styles, have we truly worshiped? How can we know if they are worshiping when God looks at the heart?  Only He knows whether or not we have worshiped?

CURT: First of all, we can never know for sure if anyone has truly “worshiped” because, as you stated, we cannot know their heart. However, we can know those things that will likely keep them from worshiping. We do know that people truly worship when they express their worship in the cultural forms that are indigenous to their culture. Because of that we know that if we require people to express their worship in a form that is foreign to them the likelihood of their truly worshiping is extremely diminished. We also know that the likelihood of that “foreign form” being used in the spread of the gospel among non-believers is just about nil.

Here’s where my confusion comes in… I understand that we need to be culturally relevant, but when the lost of the world meet Jesus, shouldn’t they be taught how to worship? And don’t they learn how to worship by watching other believers? Yes, they will add their own flare to it.  But take for instance a tribe that is saturated in voodoo. If you allow them to worship in their own context, won’t they continue to worship with voodoo practices since that is all they know?

CURT: Because all human beings have been created in the image of God, all human beings are worshipers. Worship is ascribing honor and glory to someone or something – so people innately know how to do that. The point is whether they will be able to do that within a cultural form that makes sense to them or whether they will be required to adopt a different cultural form in order to “worship” God. They can learn from other believers – but if those believers are using cultural forms that are not indigenous to them then we are asking them to leave their cultural forms in order to “be a Christian” (a clear violation of Acts 15). It is more than adding flare by using a different style of worship – it is a matter of what cultural patterns speak to their innermost heart. A voodoo tribe would have to leave their voodoo beliefs, of course. However, the style of music that they use can be redeemed for God’s glory (except for certain patterns if they were exclusively used in the voodoo religion).

Let’s apply that to my situation and community. In talking with my pastor, he thinks, and I tend to agree, that the culture around us is a blended culture in which we have people who are traditional, people who like contemporary, and people who like southern gospel.

Curt: One of the unique challenges we have in North America is that we do live in a society where many cultures are represented and many styles of music form the “heart language” of certain pockets of people. These “pockets” are ethnic, lifestyle, life-stage and socio-religious groups. However, it is far more than the categories of “traditional, contemporary and southern gospel” (lesson four). Please keep in mind that traditional church music is the “heart language” of Christian-heritage people. CCM has become a neo-traditional “heart language” of primarily boomer and buster Christians. Southern Gospel is the “heart language” of Christians from a primarily blue collar and country background. You will notice that whenever you include a focus on one of these styles of music in your church, certain people respond. For example, if you incorporate Southern Gospel in your service you will notice that certain people “come alive” – clapping and enjoying the music style. For these people, Southern Gospel resonates.

But please notice – all of these are “heart languages” of Christians or people with a Christian heritage who are already pre-disposed to Christianity. There is very little overlap between “traditional” church music and secular music styles, if at all. CCM has a limited overlap with some “Adult Contemporary” music styles. Southern Gospel has an overlap with some of the sub-genres of secular country music.

The point is that we do need to provide worship opportunities for believers that are in their “heart language” for them to truly worship. But we need to also be aware that when we use cultural Christian forms of music (traditional, contemporary, southern gospel) that for the “pagan pool” of people, it will be a cross-cultural event for them to participate in our “worship” services. Thus, if we truly desire to reach the pagan pool we will have to learn to provide ways for new believers among them to worship within their indigenous cultural forms. That will be easier with the overlap between CCM or Southern Gospel and secular music.

If we truly wanted to create a service with the idea of reaching every style, we’d have to have 10 worship services and we don’t have the manpower for that. That being said, when we cater to the preferences of people aren’t we feeding the selfish desire? I know we have to get past the style because the worship of God is our sole desire. But, I’m really having a hard time understanding and grasping how we do that. I want our worship services to be engaging and relevant, but I find it so hard to plan blended services that have contemporary, traditional, and even southern gospel in them.

Curt: Worship is a cultural experience. The way in which we ascribe honor and glory is encapsulated in the cultural forms that are part of our cultural group. It is not a matter of catering to people’s preferences – instead it is the reverse. To require that people conform to the way we want to express worship is actually being very arrogant and ethnocentric – not unlike the Jews who wanted the Gentiles to conform to their worship norms in order to be Christian. The Jerusalem council in Acts 15 settled that issue. Churches that require people to conform to their worship styles in order to be considered Christian violate the Acts 15 mandate. Blended worship allows Christians to only participate in the cultural forms that are the core of their “heart language” part of the time. The rest of the time they may or may not actually be worshipping – because the other cultural forms do not resonate with them. You can never get beyond the “style” in order to get to worship – because all worship is culturally encapsulated in some cultural form. Therefore many churches find that having a traditional service – done well – for believers who are culturally “traditional” and a different service for either CCM Christians or Southern Gospel Christians will resonate better with their indigenous cultural forms. In particular, North Augusta has several churches who offer a “Contemporary” worship service – but to my knowledge, I do not know of anyone who is doing a “Southern Gospel” worship service. Personally I believe this would go over extremely well. I would recommend that you have two services –one very traditional and one very country – Southern Gospel. I believe that you would grow by serving a real need for traditional and country Christians. I also believe that you would be able to reach some of the country music “pagan pool” for whom the Southern Gospel style of music would.

If we sing hymns, the whole congregation seems to join in. If we sing contemporary, people stand around with sour looks on their faces and it’s very discouraging as a worship leader. We can’t seem to get past the “It’s not about me” idea. I can do hymns in a contemporary way and it’s a little better, but I want people to enjoy worship because they are worshipping God with their full being and I know I have to teach that, but how do I do it? That’s where I’m confused. I want to be culturally relevant, but we must also be doctrinally sound.

Curt:  If people are standing around with sour looks on their faces while you sing contemporary music that should tell you something – the style is not part of their culture and they are not worshipping because of that. That said, it is a fine line between culturally appropriate worship and the “it’s all about me” idea. Worship has to use indigenous cultural forms in order for people to truly worship. That being said, worship is all about ascribing honor and glory to God – not about what I get out of it. My counsel would be to fix the first problem – the cultural forms. Once that barrier is no longer there then you can tackle the second problem. But people’s resistance to “foreign” cultural forms is not due to their selfishness – it is due to the fact that they intuitively know that worship is a supremely cultural event – and what they are experiencing is not enabling them to truly worship.

Your response has helped me greatly. I understand where you are coming from, but I still am having a major issue with one element. Where is the room for the Holy Spirit in what you all are saying? I understand the Holy Spirit to be a unifier, even across cultures. Right now I understand you saying that 2 cultures can’t come together and both truly worship because we aren’t speaking the “heart language” of the culture. But with the Holy Spirit living in us, doesn’t He determine the heart language?

Curt:  The Holy Spirit uses our “heart language” to convey truth to us. It is a fallacy to believe that there is a “holy language” through which the Holy Spirit speaks to us that is different than our own language – He uses God’s word to communicate to us in our own spoken language. Yes, the Holy Spirit is God – he can even break thru language barriers such as in Acts 2 when the listeners heard the message in their own languages. But notice, the Holy Spirit was moving beyond the Aramaic that Peter knew so that all would hear the message in their own heart language. In the same way the Holy Spirit uses “heart music” to speak to us – our own “heart music.” Of course cultures can come together and worship—and our bond in Christ enables us to overcome cultural barriers – but that doesn’t eliminate the fact that worship is always encapsulated in cultural forms and we truly worship when the cultural forms are meaningful to us.

Even in Ephesians Paul talks about the barriers between Jew and Gentile being broken down. We can all worship (even cross culturally) if we are coming together with the idea that we are there to ascribe worth to God. The goal of the church is not to worship. It is, however, one of the functions of the church as outlined in Acts 2. The mission of the church is to make disciples (the Great Commission). We are to live our lives as a sacrifice meaning everything we do is worship. Worship is not just a gathering of people in our own context to praise God. That’s thinking inside the box, isn’t it?

Curt: Yes cultural barriers – the animosity between groups and sour intergroup relations can be broken down by our “oneness” in Christ. But even in a multi-ethnic, multi-cultural setting each group is still worshiping in their own heart language and heart music. The goal of all of life actually IS worship. Even the “Baptist Catechism” stated: the chief end of man is to glorify God forever. You are right that worship is more than just the service on Sunday morning. Acts 2 talks about the things that believers did which included worship. Making disciples is the mission of all believers – it was given to all believers – not to the entity we call “the church.”

I hope this helps — keep the questions coming until you get it all figured out. God bless.

I’m really trying to grasp all this; I really am… thanks for being patient with me!

 

 

Missional Community Video

•February 17, 2012 • Leave a Comment

Here is a challenge for the 21st century church to empower its members so they can impact their world….one life at a time.

Let Us Hook You Up (By Mark Powers)

•January 26, 2012 • Leave a Comment

“Let Us Hook You Up”

Yeah, I know that it is rainy and cold right now, but hey, summer is coming.  Let us hook you up NOW for summer opportunities to serve and witness with your worship teams and music groups.  It’s never too early to start planning and there are organizations close by who want to work with you!  Here are links to their websites:

These organizations will hook you up with service opportunities of all kinds and help you find accommodations, meal arrangements, and performance opportunities.  Dream big and give them a call.

In the meantime, your Worship & Music Office offers events which will equip you and support you in these efforts.  Creative Ministries Festival, March 16-17 at White Oak, specializes in training for outreach-oriented drama, puppets, and creative movement, and will conclude with a block party in Winnsboro.  The Youth Choir Festival, Saturday March 10 at Riverland Hills Irmo, is a one day event with two tracks for youth singers and missional training for leaders and chaperones.  The Instrumental Expedition for church orchestra members is April 20-21 in Charlotte and concludes with an outreach concert in downtown Charlotte.  Hook up with us and let us hook you up with these great opportunities.  Go to www.scbaptist.org/worship for more details and registration information.    

Remember, though, that mission events and projects are only a door to ongoing mission service projects.  If we only take a mission trip with one of the above partners once a year, we are falling far short of being “on mission” as Christ has commanded us.  Mission Trips need to open the door for us to invest in our own communities in ongoing weekly mission service projects which lead to witnessing relationships.  So don’t stop short with mission events.  Go all the way with regularly scheduled mission service projects.

Who Wants to Be a Musicianary? (By Rick McCollum)

•January 26, 2012 • Leave a Comment

Every January, I take one of our choir rehearsals and focus on a campaign theme for our choir.  This year’s theme is “Who Wants to Be a Musicianary?”  I took the logo from “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire” and adapted it so it would work with our theme. That logo image was on the screen in the Worship Center as our choir entered to take their places for rehearsal.  I used the theme music from that popular tv show and introduced myself as playing the part of Regis.  I brought in two black swivel chairs so it would mimic the tv show’s style.  Then, we started playing the game.  I called upon 8 players, one at a time, to answer just one question.  Each one of them, if answering their particular question properly, would win a million dollars.  The dollars we gave away came from this website and are witnessing tracts that look like million dollars: http://www.livingwaters.com/index.php?page=shop.product_details&flypage=flypage.tpl&product_id=141&category_id=8&option=com_virtuemart&Itemid=199

To make sure we had equal participation, I selected one member of each of our 8 sections (Soprano I and II, Alto I and II, Tenor I and II, Bass I and II).  I called out the general category of question.  If they didn’t know the answer, they could use one lifeline and call on someone else in their section to answer.  You can come up with your own questions, but here are ours, listing the category and then the question:

1. CHOIR – Name one music group in our church that goes out and sings for other organizations on a regular basis.

2. SONG – Name and/or sing a hymn or congregational song that promotes us to be on mission.

3. IDEA – Come up with an idea of where our choir could sing as music missionaries in our city.

4. TECHNOLOGY – Name the Blog that is generated by your minister of music that gives ideas on how to be a music missionary.

5. MINISTRY – Name the new choir in our church that has been organized to both sing and minister to their own age group.

6. SYMBOL – What is the Christian symbol used by Christians in the first few centuries to declare the Christian faith.

7. SCRIPTURE – Quote or give scripture reference to a passage in the Bible that tells us to be missionaries.

8. PROJECT – Name an annual project that takes musicians from our church and sends them to perform in local businesses.

9. (BONUS ROUND) MISSIONARY – There is at least one vocational missionary in our choir.  Name that person and the type of mission work that is done.

After we finished the game, each choir member received a sheet that gave them the chronological steps of becoming a musicianary and “50 ways to activate the musiciary in you.”  Each choir member also received a lapel pin of the logo used on this website.

The night was all in fun, but hopefully it stirred awareness of our need to be on mission wherever we are and wherever we go.

Light Show! Use Technology to Capture the Community (White Chapel United Methodist Church, Southlake, Texas)

•December 12, 2011 • Leave a Comment

White Chapel United Methodist Church in Southlake, Texas brings their advent theme to life through technology.  You must see it to believe it.  Take a look at this video.

Worship Preferences (Northside Baptist, Greenwood, SC)

•November 28, 2011 • Leave a Comment

Worship Leader Travis Agnew of Northside Baptist Church in Greenwood, SC is featured in this video which challenges all of us worshipers to become mindful of why we are worshiping.  Once we get this correct perspective, our mission becomes clearer.