Wednesday, August 19, 2009


So when the Samaritans came to (Jesus) they asked Him to stay with them, and He stayed there two days. And many believed because of His word. They said to the woman, "It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves and we know that this is indeed the Savior of the world. --John 4:40-41

As I approached my Bible this morning, I must admit I was thinking almost as much about the upcoming "Homework Date" I had with one of my daughters in less than an hour as I was about having a quiet and spiritual experience. (Homework-- I am 42 years old and think I may dislike it as much as my kids.) When I looked at the passage for the day, I quickly thought to myself, "John Chapter 4... Samaritan woman... Got it. This should be quick. Maybe I could even fit in a second cup of coffee before we started drilling complex vs. compound sentence structures and gathering printable images for fifth grade writing journals." Then, as I started reading the passage, I saw things I'd never really paid attention to before:

He stayed there... no longer because of what you said... we have heard for ourselves...

Now, don't get me wrong; I love it when God takes obvious things and reveals Himself afresh, but honestly I wasn't expecting it this morning! I knew this wouldn't be a quick read, so I immediately jumped in, reading and journaling, still hoping somehow on the other side of this appointment with my Father that I might find a few extra minutes for another cup of joe.

"They asked Him to stay there, and He stayed two days..." Every time I've ever heard the passage preached, I've heard about the ongoing conflict between Samaritans and Jews; how they despised each other, and how Jesus' choice to traverse through Samaria would have been completely unacceptable for any self-respecting Jew. I knew that. I even knew about the societal implications of Jesus conversing with a woman... What I'd never done was to continue thinking beyond that point and to realize that once the woman shared her testimony, the people desired for Jesus to stay there... AND HE DID. I had always envisioned this story as a whirlwind, off-the-beaten-path sort of episode, but it wasn't that. Jesus, a Jew, willingly chose to spend time there... in that place... with those people... Why?

Perhaps it was because the people needed time to "connect the dots." Their initial response to Him was rooted in the testimony of the Samaritan woman, but only 2 days later their story had changed.

And many more believed because of His word. They said to the woman, "It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves and we know that this is indeed the Savior of the world..."

This created in me a new realization that a commitment to share the gospel might require an investment of both sacrifice and surrender. Maybe, in order to share the gospel with someone who needs to hear it, I will not only have to go through a distasteful place, but maybe even STAY there for a while until others can "hear for themselves."

These are the questions I am pondering today:

  • What places/people/situations might I consider to be my own "Samaria"?
  • Is God leading me there?
  • Am I willing to go?

May we each answer these questions well.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

A Collision of Sorts

My office is a DISASTER. We are getting ready to relocate all administrative space across the street to the new annex, so I've been packing... and working... and packing. Whenever I find myself tired of what I'm doing, I stop and pack a box. It's really quite a mess; but I tell myself that it will only be like this for a couple of weeks.

So, earlier today, while enjoying one of my "packing breaks," I found a magazine on my desk, the May/June issue of COLLIDE. I don't subscribe to Collide magazine, nor had I ever heard of it, but the bold red title of the article that lay open caught my immediate interest:

MUSIC: Our Entertainment Worship Culture, by Daniel Darnell

For years I have been on a crusade to lead services that are more structured to involve congregants in actively worshipping God than to provide a means of entertainment, so you can imagine how quickly I might have grabbed the magazine to read it. However, not knowing the source of the article, nor the means by which it arrived in my very cluttered space, gave me a moment of pause. After a brief investigation I learned that it came from a colleague here at BVBC who thought it spoke well of our ongoing quest to craft intergenerational, stylistically-diverse worship experiences. So I dove in, head first, to see what I could learn. I soon found myself completely engulfed in the article. I emailed its author to receive permission to publish portions of it here, and he granted me permission to do so.

In his article, Darnell cites a strong case for the argument that churches throughout the country are not "producing worshipers... Rather we are producing a generation of spectators, religious onlookers lacking, in many cases, a true encounter with God, deprived of both the tangible sense of God's presence and the supernatural relationship their inmost spirits crave." (Sally Morgenthaler, from her book Worship Evangelism)

His premise is valid and the article is well written. The thing I like most about it, however, is that he doesn't simply outline the growing problem. He offers practical solutions to worship planners for staying above the fray in this slippery slope. He suggests that we:

Understand Worship—Unfortunately, many of us have an incomplete or skewed view of true worship. Worship extends far beyond music; it is our continuous response to God, in all that we do, because of who He is. A proper understanding of worship will shape how we lead our congregations.

Check Our Hearts—While our intentions in using entertainment in our services can be pure, we must constantly check our motives—we are all capable of placing our confidence in manmade things. As we incorporate music into our services, we should ask ourselves these questions:
• What purpose does this song serve in our time of worship?
• What does the song have to say about God and us?
• How is this song drawing people to the Lord?

Know Our Congregations—Every church is unique, so no one formula works for all churches. Just because a church in Seattle worships in a particular manner doesn’t mean it’s the right formula for our church. We must know what engages their minds, speaks to their souls, and enables them to participate in worship.

Pray—While this last point may sound cliché, it is of great importance. Leading our congregations in worship is not a minor task. Left to our own devices, our worship times can become about us. We must be in constant prayer, asking for the Lord’s guidance as we seek to serve and worship Him.

Darnell closes with the following observation:

The Fine Line
May we all examine our motives and hearts as we program our corporate worship services. May we never seek to entertain the ears of man, but rather engage their hearts and always strive to bring glory to our God. In the end, I pray that the Church would produce passionate worshippers of the Lord rather than mere spectators of passing entertainment.

While the article is aimed toward those who plan and lead worship, I would submit that every believer should run the same diagnostics listed above in preparing to attend/participate in a corporate worship experience.

Understand Worship - Worship is our response, both personally and corporately to God's revelation of Himself. It's not just the music!

Check Our Hearts - Am I prepared to hear a word from God as I approach Him in song, through the scriptures, or in my giving? Am I listening for the sound of His voice?

Know Our Congregation - As a member of the body of Christ, I have the amazing privilege to be a part of something bigger than myself. We are wonderfully diverse... Am I willing to acknowledge the value of our worship gatherings based on who God is and the truth expressed in the moment?

Pray - Ask God to reveal Himself in a new and fresh way, and to place in you the ability to respond as He desires... in worship.

I hope and pray that your experiences of worship at BVBC are ones that lead you into God's presence where you can be changed by His word. I count it an honor to worship alongside you each week.


All italicized content is from the Article, Music: Our Entertainment Culture by Daniel Darnell. If you would like to read the entire article, an online version is available at: