Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Glass by God

I have taken up a new hobby. It actually came from a combination of a travel channel episode I watched a long time ago and recent walks on the beach thinking about church and life. The beach near our house is quite rocky in places. So as I was walking along I would take a look at the rocks every now and then. I would pick out some interesting ones every now and then. Then one day I found a small piece of glass. This brought my mind back to the old travel channel show about Sea Glass.

Sea Glass is glass that has been worn down by water and tumbling across rocks till it has been smoothed so it resembles a small rock. So a lot has been going on with church and life lately and I find that I can gather my thoughts and listen best near the water. So I have been down by the water a lot lately. I have been honing my sea glass skills and have been learning a lot from my walks on the beach and my gathering of sea glass. So these are some of the lessons I have learned.

-You have to be attentive to what God is doing around you. There are a lot of rocks on the beach not much sea glass. You have to pay attention. You have to look for it.

-The more you look for it the more you see. God is working all around us. Sometimes we just walk by and don’t see it. Although if you’re looking for it you will see it. The more you sea glass you find the more your eye gets trained to notice the distinct colors and textures in sea glass. We can train our senses to see God in places we couldn’t see him before.

-God is not done with us. There is a line between broken glass on the beach and sea glass. The line can sometimes be hazy. I have found the more pieces I discover the more I am throwing ones back. If it isn’t totally smooth I am throwing them back now. There are some exceptions if there is something unique about a piece but I didn’t used to do that. I kept ones with some hard edges still on them. I have since gone through my collection and taken some back to the beach and threw them back. God isn’t done with us. Until we are a tiny smooth little piece of glass he isn’t done with us yet. So many times we think we have arrived at some plateau. And we have. We got to the beach so we could take a look at ourselves and get thrown back in to be worked on and be smoothed out some more.

-You can be selective. I think when we started Veritas we were looking for good people and didn’t care as much about other things. I am finding that it is ok to let good people go. They might not jive with who we are or it may not be the right place for them at this time in their life. Thats ok. I hope they find a good church somewhere else. I can let good things go now. I am passing over good pieces or throwing great ones back because they aren’t quite smoothed out yet. I can do that with life too.

God has met me so many times over that past couple months out walking and finding this stuff. I know there are many more lessons to be learned. I am looking forward to it.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

One percenters

I was reading Seth Godin’s blog the other day. He shares a statistic: of the 13 million songs for sale online last year, 10 million never got a single buyer and 80 percent of all revenue came from about 52,000 songs. That’s less than one percent of the songs. I found this idea very interesting.

Of course I started to think about church. There are the one percent churches out there like Northpoint, Willowcreek, Elevation, Mosaic, Mars Hill (both of them) and some others. Their leadership does the conference circuit and they write the books and articles. Now don’t get me wrong I admire most of these places and what they are doing in the kingdom. But…. They are the one percent churches. They are the stuff that gets played on the radio all the time. Doesn’t make what they do bad. There is good music on the radio.

What I wonder about is how many great musicians are in the 3 million other songs that were purchased. They just don’t have the right look or they live in a town of 100 people so they don’t get the exposure someone else does. How many beautiful expressions of the kingdom of God in a local context are there that we never hear about?

I have another observation I think is odd when I think about this music and church relationship. Most churches are looking to that one percent of churches and trying to be like them. Now I know there are some bands that try to be like or cover popular bands. Don’t we all just kinda feel sorry for them though? I have much higher respect for a local musician that is doing their own stuff. Yes, maybe they cover a song here or there to pull the audience in but mostly they play stuff they have written. Why don’t churches do this? I feel like churches are trying to be like the next big thing. In the 90’s everybody was trying to be Willow Creek or Saddleback. Why? Sure they are in the one percent and we can respect them and listen to them. But why not work on our own stuff? Why do we listen to what the spirit is telling Rick or Bill over what he is saying to us? I think it is easier to listen to what God is telling other people instead of hearing what God is telling you.

What is God telling you to write and sing?