Apply Yourself December 9, 2008Posted by caseyww in Faith, Personal.
This week I thought I’d share a little more information about myself via an application my church has their volunteers who help with the worship ministry fill out. A little back story: I’ve been helping run the sound system at my church for a while now and was recently asked to answer the following questions.
(By the way, this post is in no way a criticism of the application itself or of Coast in general. While my answers may not be exactly conventional the application is certainly appropriate. Even further than that, Coast’s response to me has been one of acceptance and grace even in doubt. Therefore, I do want to preface sharing these thoughts by saying that I appreciate Coast’s uncanny welcoming of dissent and the space for me work out faith.)
Personal Relationship with Jesus (Describe how and when you came to know Jesus):
Bang! Right out of the gate huh? The old go to answer that I’ve typically relied on is: “I was raised in a Christian home with devoted parents where, for as long as I can remember, I was always encouraged to involve Jesus in my life. Therefore, I can’t pin-point a moment of conversion…He has just always been close.” But if we want to speak frankly this isn’t quite honest.
The truth is that for a long time I’ve been worshiping a vague incomplete construction of Jesus. My image (and I would argue ‘our image’) was shielded by my refusal to engage glaring inconsistencies in the church’s portrait of Jesus. Can I claim to ‘know’ Jesus without seriously vetting the problems with the Gospels (like conflicts between Matthew and Luke in the genealogy of Christ or why Mark doesn’t see fit to even mention the virgin birth)? If I’m willing to admit that the Gospels aren’t inerrant (which by internal conflicts alone we can assume they are not) what does it mean to ‘know’ at least some false things about Jesus?
Now I suspect I’m twisting the way you meant ‘know’ and that you are really asking about when I ‘knew’ that Jesus is the resurrected son of God and that these historical snafus didn’t really matter in the long run. I’m not there yet.
Understanding of Worship and Coast Vineyard worship philosophy (Describe your understanding of what worship is and what it is for):
Worship is about attention and pursuit. We all worship many things with our committed action. Things that vary from sex to friendship to food or yes even the divine. At best our attention is fixed on that which is most mysterious in humble awe. At worst our attention can be compulsive in expectation of vain reward.
However, I think you’re asking more about Coast’s worship cocktail (post modern evangelical served neat with a twist of multi-ethnicity?) . All kidding aside, the tradition of holding service and gathering people in song is a great way of focusing community attention. However, we need to be very careful with the responsibility endowed by a congregation when directing their worship lest we lead people to drink at mirages by dimming the lights and playing flawlessly.
Desire to be a Worshipper (Describe your experience with worship and the place of worship in your life):
I’ve played a lot of songs and bled on my guitar plenty. Mostly I was trying to be authentic but at some point I realized I was trying too hard to force faith to feel a certain way. Sweeping. Worship at Coast is mostly a place of inner conflict for me these days.
For example: where once I found it really easy to let “God of wonders beyond our galaxy, You are Holy” roll off my tongue I now find myself wondering “Do we have any idea how vast and beautiful the universe really is?”. Somehow it doesn’t feel right to make a blunt declaration about the galaxy and our place in it without seriously discussing black holes, relativity or the big bang and even further, how our view of divinity is or is not in contention with the real expanse of the universe.
Personal pursuing of God and integrity in personal life (Do you feel that you are spiritually ready to take on the responsibility that being in front of the congregation brings. Explain.):
Well this fits nicely with the responsibility I was alluding to earlier, doesn’t it? I believe I am more spiritually genuine and honest today than I have ever been before. However, I don’t expect to be judged as such by my community. I understand that my answers above look more like crisis when viewed on Sunday mornings. So this question is really for you. Am I spiritually ready to turn knobs from roughly half way back in the congregation? Are you comfortable with serious doubt controlling your mix every other week?
Calling by God for Ministry (Explain why you believe that God has called you to minister to Coast specifically in the area of worship ministry):
I can’t say I’ve been called. I have no supernatural revelation on which to base my service at Coast. I do know that I value community and that helping out is an important part of investing in relationships to me.
Personal Journey in Multi-Ethnicity (What is your experience and/or journey in the area of multi-ethnicity either in your life personally and/or at Coast?):
I value multi-ethnicity because I believe it is one of our only tools in combating covert racism and xenophobia rampant in the church and American culture at large. We all have a natural tendency to trust those who look and act most like us which has evolved through thousands of years of tribal group dynamics.
However, in a global world we can no longer trust these instincts to accurately inform us about who is most worthy of our friendship or compassion. Only by systematic exposure to those who are different than us will we ever overcome inherent bias. Forcing our community to sing uncomfortable songs or touch foreign skin tones helps us to be better global citizens by redefining the scope of our tribe. What a beautiful goal.