Double White Bursts

Victory Church: Launch Stage Design, during worship

Last month at Victory Church, we had a new sermon series entitled Launch, and we wanted to put together a new stage design for the series. We bounced some ideas around, perused the pages of ChurchStageDesignIdeas.com and came up with a few concepts that we liked. Since we had a short budget and a small window of time, we decided to do a variation of Tape Burst or Ribbon Dance.

The first version used clear packing tape, and the second version used white ribbon. We wanted to use a white material that would stand out on our small stage, but we needed to do it on a very small budget. The solution: white duct tape.

Instead of one central point, we used two layered burst points. One burst was towards the back, and the other towards the front to give it a layered affect. On the left side, we anchored them to the floor with wood beams and sandbags. On the right side we used the drum riser as out anchor point. We ran them up to pipes we had hanging overhead.

The most inner strip on the right side was a litte twisted because of the way we attached it. The bottom was parallel to the stage, but the top was taped to a piece of wood we rested on the steel beams over head. Since the wood was longer than the width between the beams, it sat at an angle to the stage, and the tape was attached at an angle, causing the tape to twist as it went from teh floor tot he ceiling.

We also hung some white fabric we already had along the back and projected a graphic for the series.

Total Cost: $6.97 for one roll of White Duct Tape.

Victory Church: Launch stage design

Victory Church: Launch stage design

Victory Church: Launch stage design

Victory Church: Launch stage design, right burst

Victory Church: Launch stage design, left burst

Victory Church: Launch stage design, back of the right burst

When leading worship

I was working on a project tonight with some music playing in the background and my mind wandered to our worship team at church. Most are young and still growing spiritually. I consider it a blessing to be able to pour into them what has been poured into me, but it can be frustrating at times. As I thought about some recent discussions I had with a few of them, I felt compelled to write an email to them. Below is what I wrote, and I felt it needed to be shared.
When you sing or play, as we lead the church into worship together, be confident in the words that are being sung.
Understand that this is truth being spoken into every ear that hears, every mind that listens and every heart that it reaches.
Take a moment and forget what you have practiced.
Forget the melody.
Forget the harmony.
Forget the chords.
Forget the rhythm.
Seek the truth in the song.
Get lost in it.
Let the Spirit lead you to sing a new song, one that has been given to you and no one else.
Let Him lead you to play a new chord, one that you have never practiced.
Let His presence define a new rhythm, one that has not been heard before.
What He does in that moment is unique to what He is doing at that time.
It cannot be mimicked, cannot be duplicated.
But if you seek Him and His truth, and you will find it and it will be new and refreshing.

A moment of your mind

Take this moment to pause
and think
about where your walk with God has taken you.

Think about church
and your experiences within.

What are your early thoughts
and memories
of going to church
being a part of the church?

How has that changed?

Why has it changed?

What is one word
or phrase
or paragraph
you might use to describe
the direction that our generation
of Christians
is headed
or should be headed toward?

Where does the future
of the church lie?

How do we avoid the mistakes of the past
and head toward a church
as Christ intended
for our generation
and for our children’s generation?

Just take a moment and write it all down.

It’s all pointless

“Then I considered all that my hands had done and the toil I had expended in doing it, and behold, all was vanity and a striving after wind, and there was nothing to be gained under the sun.” – Ecclesiastes 2:11 (ESV)

What’s the point of what we do? What is our drive? Our reasoning? Our motivation?

Does it make you happy? Are you satisfied?

Solomon, the king of Israel, the person who was granted all wisdom by God, found all he did to be meaningless.

The work of his hands – meaningless.

The entertaining and pleasurable things – meaningless.

His own great and unsurpassed wisdom – meaningless.

We live, we work, we die, and all is forgotten.

Seems a bit melodramatic, but it’s a place we’ve all been at one time in our lives. The time when we look at ourselves, our lives, our future and ask:

“What’s the point?!”

And Solomon observes:

“There is nothing better for a person than that he should eat and drink and find enjoyment in his toil. This also, I saw, is from the hand of God, for apart from him who can eat or who can have enjoyment?” – Ecclesiastes 2:24,25 (ESV)

It is God who has given us these things to do, and we take pleasure in the duty that God has given us.

Because of Him we take pleasure in what we do.

In Him, we find meaning for our lives.

Galatians in Your Church

I’m convinced that most churches these days have skipped over or completely missed the point of Galatians.

It’s not just a simple reiteration of Paul’s ministry and interactions with the church.

It’s more than just the two verses that describe the fruits of the Spirit that we were taught to memorize in Sunday School.

The Book of Galatians is a serious reprimand to the church in Galatia.

The Book of Galatians is a warning, if not another reprimand, to today’s churches. And in my opinion, to today’s Malayalee churches.

“Now when Peter had come to Antioch, I withstood him to his face, because he was to be blamed; for before certain men came from James, he would eat with the Gentiles; but when they came, he withdrew and separated himself, fearing those who were of the circumcision. And the rest of the Jews also played the hypocrite with him, so that even Barnabas was carried away with their hypocrisy.”

~Galatians 2:11-13 (NKJV)

Now replace Peter and the Jews with yourself and your church and replace the Gentiles with co-workers, friends, colleagues, other churches.

I know that in today’s American Pentecostal Malayalee churches there is talk of reaching the unreached and the unsaved coworker and colleague and people of other races, but the sermons are sprinkled with unintentionally racist comments and the overall impetuous that to be saved all jewelry, makeup and tattoos need to be removed.

Our APM Churches push the fancy dresses and tailored suits and look down their noses at the casually dressed worshiper as less-than-spiritual.

My mom scolds me for wearing jeans to church and wearing rings (not in church, but when I go out every now and then) and bracelets (WWJD and other ministry bands). It’s just “unbecoming” of an APM pastor’s firstborn son.

We recently had a speaker at our church visiting us who had converted from the Orthodox church to the Pentecostal church.

My mother mentioned my jeans and jewelry to him, expecting that I would be “set straight”.

I responded to my mom, in front of the pastor, and asked, “Mom, how many white sari’s do you own? How much gilt is on your saris?”

To which our guest, who was in an uncomfortable position, replied, “He has a valid point.”

End of discussion.

There was a time when my mom wouldn’t wear certain sari’s because they were too flashy, too gaudy or had too much gilt. But that was ten years ago.

Our grandparents wore white saris and outfits and removed their jewelry to set themselves apart when the Pentecostal movement started in India. That was about 30-40 years ago.

Now in the APM church jewelry and fine clothes are no longer about defining a movement, but about following a standard, a rule, a law that has been defined by a people.

It defines if you are a part of the club or not.

Are your clothes nice enough?

Sari’s of the proper quality?

Shirts pressed with matching ties?

Hair well- maintained and managed?

While this whole idea started with good intentions, it’s become legalistic. It’s become bondage.

“O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you that you should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed among you as crucified? This only I want to learn from you: Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? Are you so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are you now being made perfect by the flesh?

~Galatians 3:1-3 (NKJV)

It’s a recurring theme and problem throughout the Bible, both Old Testament and New Testament, of Jews and Christians who have turned tradition into law and identified these laws as a process of salvation and redemption instead of having a relationship with Christ.

But God doesn’t look at our jewelry or lack there of.

He doesn’t look on our jeans or our suits or dresses or saris.

Does it matter if you wear jewelry or not?

Or is it more important that you seek and desire to know the heart of God?

Does it matter if you wear jeans or suits to church?

Or is it more important that you lift up those around you to know God and draw nearer to Him?

For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but faith working through love.

~Galatians 5:6 (NKJV)

This past Sunday I wore jeans to church like I normally do.

This past Sunday I led worship like I normally do.

This past Sunday was an amazing time of worship.

This past Sunday I heard “uncles” and “aunties” humming and singing the songs after the service was over.

This past Sunday I heard comments on how much they enjoyed the English worship.

This past Sunday I heard no comments on my jeans or lack of a blazer.

This past Sunday gave me hope that our church can slowly step away from the past 25+ years of APM legalism.

I pray for our generation and the next to not be led by traditions and culture, but by the Spirit of Christ that has a standard that never changes.

“I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.

Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.

Galatians 5:16-26 (NKJV)

Video from #PCNAK

I plan on doing a decent write-up of PCNAK this year and the twitter frenzy that many of us took part in. But until i get a chance to do that, here are some videos from this year’s worship services. I only have video from Friday and Sunday. Apologies to Northwest and Southeast worship teams.

Northeast Worship Team

Southwest Worship Team

What are you wearing…?

Jeans in Church

This is just a “poll” of sorts to get some perspective on your views. It’s for something I’m working on, which I hope to let you all see/read soon.

  • What do you wear to church? Do you get all dressed up or do you go casual or something in between?
  • If the majority of your church dresses up, and you came in one Sunday wearing jeans, would that be a problem?
  • What are your thoughts on wearing jeans in church?
  • What is the appropriate dress attire for church?

Seven Deadly Sins and Finding God

We had our church anniversary last weekend and the high school students put together a mini-movie instead of a live play. They wrote and acted in it and I helped film and edit it. It came out much better than expected, especially with the last minute changes and everything.

The college kids did a video as well instead of a play. Keith put a lot of effort into this as far as writing, acting and directing and he’s put it up on Google Video. It’s called Finding God.