5 Reasons to Throw Hillsong Under the Bus

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I decided to watch Season 3 of The Newsroom recently and while I was somewhat disinterested (I loved Season 1 & 2 but honestly kind of forgot about the show itself) my wife was psyched to watch it and the overall theme really hit home for me. To summarize, writer/director Aaron Sorkin used the episode to blast the professional news industry for relying on crowd sourcing, social media, and “the faceless mob”(that is Facebook & Twitter) to be the source behind “facts” spread through broadcast journalism worldwide. The way information travels through these mediums often goes unchecked, unbalanced, and can often be downright untrue.

Sadly, this is too often the case in Christian circles as well.

Everyday my Facebook feed gets more negative, more hateful and more destructive. The worst part is that probably 75% of these people are Christians. When did we get so anti? The attacks on other churches, ministries, bands, artists and pastors alike have honestly gotten unbearable, and if I can be “that guy”for just a minute, its gotten borderline sinful.

So if you are a blogger, run social media for a local church, or just love to post some daily snark to your FB and Twitter page, heres 5 reasons to throw Hillsong under the proverbial bus:

1. Putting “Hillsong” in Your Title Will Draw More Attention
If your goal is attracting “likes” and “christian” followers, just put “Hillsong” in as a buzzword. Follow it up with words like “scandal”, “unbibical”, “heretical” to maximize negative OR positive response depending on your audience.

2. It Stirs the Conversation
The pot always needs a little stirring right? Negative, positive, who cares?(Although, lets be real, its mostly negative). Let the world know that Christians aren’t really all on the same team, and its better to prove a point then to show love or grace. Remember what your mom always said, “If you don’t have something nice to say, you should probably blog about it”.

3. Use it as a Way to Show How Spiritual You Are
We all know the best way to prove your christian ranking is to publicly call out another church or ministry for all the ways they have fallen short in your eyes. Its your duty as a follower of Jesus to go to your brother(publicly) and confront them(on Facebook) if their theology doesn’t specifically line up with your personal interpretation.

4. It’s Cool to Be “Anti”
The top trend these days is to write a “why I don’t _______” blog or post. Its just cool! It makes you seem different, like you really have original thoughts and opinions. “Why I don’t sing Hillsong at my church”, “Why I don’t like Brian Houston” or even “Why I hate that Hillsong is compromising their beliefs”. Realize none of it has to be based on fact, just your opinion. Don’t forget, Its more important for your views to be heard then for the information to be accurate.

5. What Hillsong Doesn’t Know Can’t Hurt Them
“Hillsong is never even gonna see this” should be your mantra. After all, they are Hillsong! There’s a fricken’ movie coming about about them, who better to throw stones at right? My post or blog will never even be seen by them, and its not gossip, slander, or even hurtful if I don’t actually know the person. At the end of the day, its not like we are all supposed to be brothers in Christ or anything.

Closing thought:

This really has nothing to do with what I think about Hillsong(I’m excited to read comments like “This guy just loves Hillsong blah blah blah”). This is about all of us. Its about taking responsibility for our words and actions on social media. Its about using the tools placed in front of us for building up not tearing down. Its about restoring the gifts of laughter, satire, and humor to be something positive, loving and joyful again. Lets get better. Lets change the future. Let’s be good again.

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Pop Kills Purity

GumI’m not about to start a rant against Pop Music. Its been done & I just won’t do it again.

All I know is this… The process of making pop music is not how music was intended to be created. What I’m referring to is the process itself of a machine built, cookie cutter song; shined, polished and streamlined to appeal to specific markets for the purpose of making the most money.

Now I really don’t care how much money Justin Beiber or the Jonas Brothers make. My concern is how this process has filtered its way into the Christian world and into our churches.

I was recently reminded of this by a video I saw of a group called “FMLYBND”. (Family Band) It was a portrait of a community of young musicians, worshipping and creating unconventional worship music by which they have cultivated an incredible movement in Isla Vista California. What became painfully evident to me is how I constantly see and hear of Worship Ministries trying desperately to manufacture this kind of excitement, momentum and movement by following a “process” far too similar to the cookie cutter pop music machine.

Call me old school, but shouldn’t art/creativity and especially music just naturally overflow from a group of people, or dare I say it, a band? We’ve locked up our creatives in workshops, meetings, processes, strategy discussions, and denominational boundaries. Let the creatives, CREATE. When they realize they can be themselves and don’t have to create something that sounds like Chris Tomlin, Hillsong or Jesus Culture, something incredible will happen: they will be who God created them to be instead of who the CCM says they should be.

I have nothing but respect for the above mentioned worship bands and recognize the movements they have been able to create, but its common(although often forgotten)knowledge that what these artists did was NOT the norm at the time of their inception. I remember the majority of people I spoke with would have gone as far as to say Hillsong United’s early work “was not true worship”. Even “Aftermath” took a lot of heat for forging new ground.

Point: If what you are doing doesn’t sound the way others think it should sound, and isn’t widley accepted at first, you may be on the right track.

Passionate creative movements are seldom the result of reading a “how-to manual” and more often the result of having the courage to write a new one.

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Expiration Date

I have more and more recently begun to think about my expiration date. Not as a human. Not like the day I die. Not THAT expiration date. Not even specifically as a Worship Leader or a musician really.

I guess the best way to put is, the Expiration of my Relevancy.

I’ve always had a bit of a Peter Pan complex and as a musician and creative individual I guess I fit the stereotype of not wanting to grow up. Though I absolutely and completely have embraced this “grown up stage” of marriage, dad-hood, full time job/bringing home the bacon lifestyle; as an artist and worship leader I still do my best to stay young and relevant. Culture, Style, & Music go hand in hand, and keeping your finger on the pulse of those things is very important for reaching a large, multi generational group of people week in and week out.

So while I believe that MINISTRY can and should be a lifelong calling, I do not believe that I should plan on being 60 years old and still be the upfront, driving, leading, creative force for a multi-gen worship experience. I’ve dreaded this day coming and thought of this moment as my expiration date.

I think what I’ve realized through many long conversations with those much wiser than myself is that we have the power to choose when the Expiration of our Relevancy will be. We must keep on learning, growing, and being intentionally forward thinking. Here are a few tips on how to keep from expiring like moldy pita bread:

  1. Don’t allow the phrase “thats how we’ve always done it” to enter your vocabulary. Our MESSAGE should never change, but our METHODS always should.
  2. Surround yourself with next generation leaders. This will allow you to stay plugged in to what is happening NEXT in the world, and will also give a love and better understanding of who your successors will be. Learn how to pass the torch early and it won’t be so hard to let go.
  3. Be intentional not ironic. Far too often I hear those in their early 30s-40s making ironic comments about the way young worship leaders dress or the music they play. (skinny jeans anyone?) Look at these as opportunities to learn, to think outside of our own little box. Be intentional not ironic.
  4. Be willing to be like Jesus. Jesus was willing to do anything necessary to reach people. He told parables because they were stories that farmers and fisherman could understand, he accepted the tax collector and the harlot when no one would, he went to unconventional places like mountains and boats just to preach. Be willing to do what is uncomfortable, to do what is difficult, to do anything.

You decide when you expire.

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Artistic Submission

This is for the rockstar in all of us…
 
The guitarist in the dance/electro/powerpop band…
 
The singer/songwriter desperately trying to make it…
 
The kid that became a drummer after seeing Travis Barker/Carter Beauford/John Bonham play…
 
Anyone who loves music anywhere…
 
Question: What are we doing with our talents?
 
2 years ago I was a part of a church plant in Orange County CA, and it was  incredible to see how God grew that Worship community from 2 people to 20+ in only a few short months and the calibur of excellence and creativity he brought was just insane, they would all blow my mind every week. As any ministry grows, their will come a point you must look at who you are, and decide who you want to be as a community. I beleive Andy Stanley said it best when he said: Do what ONLY YOU CAN DO, and be THE BEST IN THE WORLD at it.
 
I have been a part of ministries (as im sure all of you have) that have been THE MOST ORGANIZED AND STRUCTURED. I have seen worship departments that boast THE BEST MUSICIANS, THE COOLEST HAIR, THE BIGGEST CHRISTMAS SPECTACULAR etc. So what do we pursue? What is the goal? What is the clearest direction for a bunch of rag tag musicians who want to make a global impact?
 
I beleive King David is the answer.
 
Before he was king, he was a shephard working a menial job, singing/writing songs in the fields to calm his sheep and to worship his God. Once anointed as king he did not take his place on the throne for many years, instead, he spent his time as a servant to king Saul, humbly singing/writing songs to calm the King and worship his God. He is at one point even hunted by Saul and during this horrible time of living in caves and running for his life, he manages to write a huge portion of the book of Psalms which 95% of our modern worship songs are based upon today. His goal was never to be a famous composer, or to be known for his music, or write a hit worship song, but he did it anyway. He wrote out of the achings of his heart, out of the time spent alone in solitude with God, out of a life in full pursuit of Him. He was, at heart, just a rag tag musician who in the end made a global impact, because loving God was a natural authentic practice in his life.
 
Can we acheive this heart?
 
I beleive we can and we will…
 
Remember, we are Christ Followers first, Servants of the Church second, and Musicians third. In that order.
 
Allowing your skills, creativity, and artistic vision to submit to the first two is the best place to start.
 
I’m committed to artistic submission to God, are you?
 
Its not always easy, but its worth it…
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Hipster Church

I have no problem admitting that I am a fan of the “Hipster” movement, er… perhaps  anti-movement is more appropriate. To even come out and openly say that you are a part of this culturally elite sub-group is to oust yourself from it completely. The phrase “Oh yea I’m totally a hipster” is equivalent to speaking the name of Voldemort to Harry and his friends. Still I believe it is quite valuable to acknowledge not only its existence but the impact it’s having on our Student Ministries, our College Groups and our Church as a whole.

Disclaimer: While the MESSAGE of the gospel/church should never change;  if you do not believe in allowing culture to influence the METHODS we use to convey said message than perhaps you should read no further. I hope you will read on and ravage the aforementioned gospel to see that Jesus himself was a huge proponent of utilizing culture to get His message out.

What We Can Learn:

  1. The Old Becomes New– On many levels this movement is about taking what is vintage, classic, or timeless and making it new again. From music, to art, to design and especially fashion, its an old becomes new again mentality. I wouldn’t necessarily advise changing your wardrobe(unless that’s naturally who you are) but from a creative standpoint, there is much to learn. Simple, organic and earthy are all applicable adjectives and distressed wood grain, burlap, and hand-drawn for design ideas.
  2. She and Hymn– As a Worship Leader of over 10 years I can safely say that Hymns are back in a huge way. This falls under the Old Becomes New mentality. Going back to that which is sacred, holy, even traditional. Mars Hill Music is doing an incredible job of running with this and recreating hymns in a fresh way. Older more abstract instruments such  as the Glockenspiel, Harmonium, and Banjo are showing up thanks to artists like Gungor, John Mark Mcmillan, and even David Crowder.
  3. Rock ‘n’ Roll is Dead– The days of putting on the biggest, brightest concert style worship service is no longer going to cut it. While I can’t stress EXCELLENCE in production enough, its more about creating an environment that doesn’t feel forced; doesn’t feel like it’s trying too hard. Mumford & Sons live show is a good presentation of this as well as the Bethel Loft sessions.
  4. Southern Revival– I recently got to lead “Amazing Grace” at a multi-generational service in Chino Hills not too unlike where many of you probably are. We did an arrangement by “Citizens”(a Mars Hill band) and incorporated many of the elements I just described above and the response was unbelievable. While this whole movement is new to this generation, it obviously harkens back to a time that our parents and even grandparents are well aware of. The marriage of the two creates some kind of beautiful atmosphere that draws all age groups in.

With their square rim glasses, boots, loafers, vintage denim everything, and skinny, perhaps even cuffed to the ankle jeans, they are among you.

Learn or be left out.

How will you respond?

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What I’m Learning From A One Year Old

It may not be that profound, its pretty simple really… I’ve heard it said before that God has built in these perfect snapshots of who He is, how much He loves us, and what He has done for us into the human experience. He turned sharing a simple meal of bread and wine into a picture of loving sacrifice. Marraige, a glimpse of Christ and the church as a Husband and His bride. Making God as personal as a Father allows us to see Him in our families; our parents and our children…

I’ve learned a lot this year from having our son(about myself and about God). Here are just a few things Everett has taught me…

How to throw off inhibitions…

How to run fast and hard towards what is calling me…

How to wake up at 6am and be ready to take on the world…

How to put my phone down, unplug from the interwebs and actually enjoy the people around me…

How I’m not the most important person I know…

How imperfect I am…

How God loves me through my stubborness…

How much bigger God is than me…

The tiniest bit of what God must feel when He looks down at us…

How much God wants whats best for us…

How much God wants to see us run to Him, throw up our hands and call Him “Dad”…

What it means to sacrifice…

And just when I think I understand even 1% of how much God loves us, I look at my son and realize how impossible it would be to ever give him up to save the lives of others and yet thats exactly what God did for us.

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5

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Have you ever had such a busy season that you almost forget a milestone in your life like your own birthday??? Tina Fey does it all the time on “30 Rock” and its funny when it happens on TV, and I guess even in real life its kind of funny…But looking back on last weekend I am actually pretty bummed that my wife Julia and I weren’t really able to celebrate a huge milestone in our marriage…

As of last Sunday, we have officially been married for 5 years… 

5 years…

Thats about 1/5th of my life, and hers too… (i hope that fraction makes sense haha)

That is a big deal to us… and maybe I’m biased or too sentimental, but I feel like it should be a big deal these days and yet somehow we blew past it without too much thought… It wasn’t intentional, life just got the better of us… I got a new job, my wife quit hers, we moved from Covina to Chino and of course we have our little rascal running around (no not our French Bull dog)… and all of this was going on within the 2-3 day weekend we had to find some time to celebrate… 

I know some of you out there that have been married 20, 30, 40 years are laughing inside… saying things like “Wait till you get to our age…” or “Talk to me in another 5-10 year”. But when I look around at the statistics I guess I just want someone to say “Good job” at the very least. 

The average age for first marriage: 26 for women, 28 for men (I was 23, she was 20)

50 percent of all marriages end in divorce. (5 years and counting)

60 percent of all couples who marry between 20 and 25 divorce. (again, 23 & 20, still going)

I don’t think we are special… 

I don’t think we are better than anyone else…

We honestly don’t know how we have made it this far… 

But here we are, and Im thankful to be here… 

“Marriage is the mother of the world. It preserves kingdoms, and fills cities and churches, and heaven itself.” -Jeremy Taylor

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