OVO

As you might read in my profile I am a big Peter Gabriel fan. You might know his music thru such songs as “Sledgehammer” or “Solsbury Hill”, or perhaps even “Red Rain”…Mr. Gabriel released an album back in 2000 (I believe) called “OVO”

I can almost bet none of you have heard it.

Its not “Christian music”…in fact its not even mainstream music, it’s a weird kind of artistic exercise that centers around a story Peter Gabriel made up.

The name OVO is given to a child in the story because as his father gazes at him in his sleep he sees the eyebrows and two eyes form together to make an “OVO”…it’s a pretty interesting story and the music I find quite good, especially “Downside Up”, which could very well be used to explain what happens to people when they get converted or God invades their worldview…it is in fact a “conversion song” in the musical production itself.

So what’s this got to do with church and worship?

Good question, I’ll get to it.

When I go to the Bible to get definitions for worship and a template for what we’re doing, I am struck by the fact that in the New Testament I don’t get a liturgy, or a ritual, what I mainly get is stories. Read it you’ll see what I’m talking about.

You’ve got the Gospels which is primarily the story of God invading Israel’s model and then you get to Acts and the epistles and you get another series of stories about early church life and perhaps some doctrinal exercises that seem to deal with the transition between the Gospels and Acts…oh yeah you get the Apocalypse which is about how the world would not worship God or turn from their wickedness, and in the midst of it all God always wins and then theres a big wedding then it ends.

But what you don’t get is a set of rules about how to run a worship team or organize our Sunday morning encounters (or whatever day we choose since the entire early template seems to be “old and fading away”).

If I apply the Bible in a strict authoritative rulebook kind of way, I basically have the simple rules laid out by James in Acts (since we are all basically the Gentile believers)

“That they abstain from things contaminated by idols and from fornication and from what is strangled and from blood”-Acts 15:20

That’s really about all the Jewish Apostles laid on us.

Yeah, yeah I know the church comes round and there are some general rules about leadership and order, but you don’t find Paul telling Timothy:

“Hey Timothy, make sure the tithe envelopes are out, and lets keep the bathrooms clean, and oh yeah you should do three fast songs and maybe four slow songs, but do it in that order since people need to wake up before they can really worship, services should start around 10:30”…

So what’s this got to do with OVO?

Well Peter Gabriel recorded a story, he used all sorts of different musicians and singers, if you buy the CD he even uses cartoons to tell his story, but the bottom line is he told a story thru a community.

THAT’S what I’m talking about.

As we continue to explore what “worship” means and as we continue to create “refrigerator art” for God every Sunday, lets also be aware that we are telling a story thru our worship experience. The characters in the story are you and I and the church in general, but the main theme of the story is that just like the Gospels, we too have had God invade our model and our liturgy, our lives are now “Downside Up” because of the grace of Jesus.

And since we’re the ones telling the story, we have the opportunity to tell it in all sorts of creative ways, basically we are telling back to God what He has already done, and what He is doing…we are in fact telling Gods story thru our lives.

God uses all sorts of things and languages to tell His story…I mean for crying out loud He’s using US…. that ought to be enough to get us out of our boxes and thinking of new ways to express His story.

Lets not be afraid to get out the glue and buttons and pipe cleaners for the next piece of refrigerator art we call worship, it is after all for His Glory…what’s the worse that could happen, we get a little glitter on the living room carpet?

Inexpressible

Inexpressible.

“I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago-whether in the body I do not know, or out of the body I do not know, God knows-such a man was caught up to the third heaven.

And I know such a man-whether in the body or apart from the body I do not know, God knows-
Was caught up into Paradise and heard inexpressible words, which a man is not permitted to speak. (2 Cor. 12:2-4 NAS)

I got to thinking about Linda’s word Sunday, pertaining to the Lord being pleased with us and showing that thru the prophetic drumming of Brent…

It was kind of obvious that there was something unique and prophetic happening amongst all the musicians, I think we all felt it and all responded to it, but especially Brent as he played the drums.

This is starting to happen more and more.

Which brings up the question (as did Linda this Tuesday during worship practice) “What does it mean when they prophesy on the instruments?”

Again we are working without a net here, I simply do not know.

I know it when it happens.

I’ve been in services where I heard it…

I know when it happens TO me, and the prophetic seems to play THRU me…

But as Linda asked, “What does the prophecy mean?”

What does it mean when the Lord moves upon a musician and they begin to improvise or launch out musically where they did not intentionally plan to go?

One of the songs on our “to learn” list is Chris TomlinsIndescribable“…and the song details the inability we have to communicate all that God is…

Do you suppose that in some way God has the same problem we do?

Oh yeah I know He’s omnipotent and all, I’m not suggesting the circular logic of the Simpson’s where Homer ask “Could Jesus microwave a burrito so hot He couldn’t eat it?”

I’m not playing word games with Gods ability, but the reality exist that God has limited the way He communicates with us (my theory is that its for our own good He has placed limits on Himself) to some rather simple protocols and process’s that we still manage to mangle and misuse.

Has it occurred to anyone else that God may simply be trying to use each and every aspect of our environment to show His fondness and profound love, so much so that He will invade our culture and even our own worship to DEMONSTRATE His reach?

At this point I really don’t know if we need to know what the prophesy might say thru the instrumentalist as long as we start hearing the message that God is invading “our” worship time and sitting in on drums…or keys…or guitar…

Think about it a minute…. the guy that invented sound itself…sat in on drums Sunday.

That is enough for me, He don’t gotta say anything else….just showing up at our little gathering and picking up a set of drumsticks while we were searching for Him in our singing should set out hearts quivering…

It’s kind of inexpressible.

Glorious, Wondrous, Dangerous

Well let’s talk about last Sunday.

We have currently been working on a Hillsongs United song (All for Love) that we intend to introduce to the congregation.
Last Tuesdays worship practice I felt we needed to simply “worship” with the song as a team and forget about the technical aspects for a change…. we did and had a profound worship meeting…sooooo…I said we would just go ahead and do the song regardless of our abilities…

On Saturday that all changed.

As I prepared for Sundays worship I felt quite strongly that we were not ready as a team “spiritually” to introduce the song…the song has become a very powerful template and many on the team have seen or felt prophetic significance surrounding the song as we prepare for it, but as I prayed and prepared for Sunday I saw that we would not be doing the song.

Now mind you the first thing I thought about when I made the decision to wait was how do I deal with disappointing our worship team? And to add insult to injury I needed to be honest when I explained why I felt we needed to wait…we weren’t ready “spiritually”…talk about bumming down a pre-service worship team…man I was apprehensive about how to communicate this and keep a positive vibe going.

As I prayed about Sunday’s service I also felt that we needed to “worship” more, and I in turn chose a more subdued worship list…BESIDES the fact that I had decided to introduce a new song THAT very Sunday…without telling anyone else.

Sounds like a recipe for a disaster, and I’m cooking.

In the past few weeks our worship services have been a mix of shouting, jumping, dancing, and occasionally screaming, but the bottom line is they have been very up-tempo and I have been breaking strings every week (believe it or not this is an indicator to us that some kind of break-thru is happening, I go to a lot of trouble to avoid this but when we are breaking thru the density of spiritual walls things happen in the physical and one of these things is I break guitar strings).

So I feel a more “subdued” kind of awe-struck list is in order, and choose songs that I felt suggested that.

What I did not know was that God was doing His thing and stretching my understanding of worship.

We did three songs.
We introduced one of them.
We had people shouting, spinning, RUNNING, and dancing…. all with my “subdued” list…

I have no template for this.

I have no idea what it means.

But what I had challenged the team with that morning was that we should be trying to get to a place where our worship was Glorious, Wondrous, and Dangerous.

Ultimately I have decided that we should be asking ourselves…not was it good, or did it go well, not even “did the people respond”, but we should find a baseline to understand and see if God was pleased…

Again, I don’t know but I have some theories…

-Mark

If it ain’t broke, fix it til it is.

This is a journal.

A journal of a journey with a group of worshippers from a small congregation in Northern Arizona.

The title of this blog comes from a word I felt the Lord gave me several months back.

I lead worship for our church, and one of the frustrating events I often encounter is when during worship I break a guitar string (I lead from behind a guitar).

It has actually become so commonplace we laugh about my guitar string bill.

In my frustration with this the Lord simply said to me …

“Break thru with broken strings”…


Recently I saw a bumpersticker that said “if it ain’t broke, we’ll fix it til it is!”… and this has become the title of this first thread…see our worship was not broke when I took over, it was good, it was consistant, and it was growing.

The reason I took over was mainly because the Lord “graduated” the former worship leaders into full time positions as the Pastors they already were, and the decision to move me into “lead worshipper” was both inspired, and practical I’m sure…I wasn’t the one who made the decision, I simply agreed and suddenly found the joys and frustrations immersing me into the reality that I know very little about what and Whom I love.

At any rate my newfound responsibility began to weigh on me and as I sought the Lord, He kept reminding me in many ways that one of my “beginning” duties was to help our congregation break thru to new levels in worship.

I have no idea what break thru means (I have a religous idea, but thats a little shallow) but I do feel the call to “get thru” the muck and mammon of routine life into the open air of heavens design.

So I/we will journal the journey and see where it takes us.

Maybe we’ll discover break-thru, maybe we won’t, and if we don’t at the very least we’ll have a record of what we did wrong (well, besides the obvious).

There are a ton of good resources available for any leader, so why do a blog?

Well mainly I felt God suggested it, and second, there are not a lot of resources for “small” churches, and frankly I’ve never visited a site where the worship encounter was “blogged” so I decided it was time to obey, and today this will start the process.

Hopefully the worshippers from Canyon Chapel will join, and I hope that if you happen to find this site you will at minimium encounter what we encounter…an awe of the living God.

I do love Jesus….but better yet, He do love me more.

-Mark