Thinking Out Loud

May 4, 2009

Monday Links — Christian News Update

Shack Publisher To Launch Music Division

Christian Retailing — a bookstore trade magazine published by the same people who publish Charisma magazine — is announcing that “The publishing newcomers behind Christian fiction phenomenon The Shack are hoping for a repeat success in the music world. Windblown Records, a new division of Windblown Media–the company formed to publish William P. Young’s novel after it was turned down by more than 20 established publishers–has released My Beautiful One. The 12-track CD features instrumental arrangements of worship songs by Chris DuPré.” …Continue reading the whole story here.

Adam Gregory To Star in WWJD Movie

The website Country Standard Time is reporting that Adam Gregory will star in a movie based on the book that inspired the whole WWJD phenomenon a few years ago. “…The upcoming film “WWJD” [is] based on one of the best-selling Christian books of all-time… Gregory’s original song What Would Jesus Do from his recent Canadian release “Crazy Days” will also be featured in the film. The song was co-written by Keith Follese and Billy Yates. …Filming on the project begins this week in Los Angeles.” The book referred to is In His Steps by Charles Sheldon. …Read the entire story here.

Jesus More Popular Than Beatles

John Lennon may have once suggested that the Beatles were more popular than Jesus, but at the first ever auction in the 44-year history of the Hollywood Wax Museum, the wax figures of the Beatles fetched only $13,000; compared to $15,000 for Jesus and His disciples at The Last Supper. To read the short report at the Starpulse Entertainment site, link here.

Afghan Official Calls for Bible Distribution Probe

“A former Afghan official says an investigation should be conducted into U.S. soldiers allegedly trying to convert Muslims to Christianity.” So begins a report from United Press International (UPI) in which a former Afghan Prime Minister suggests that what the soldiers are doing is outside the limits of the U.S.’ own constitution. Continue reading the UPI story here.

January 17, 2009

A New Use For That Empty Choir Loft

rejesusI’m just a few page into Re Jesus: A Wild Messiah for a Missional Church by Michael Frost and Alan Hirsch.   In the first chapter a story is related from Charles Sheldon’s classic, In His Steps, concerning a homeless man who sits outside the church listening to people singing as to how they are giving their lives to Jesus, and can’t reconcile this with why they are doing nothing for the poor.

“It seems to me that there’s an awful lot of trouble in the world that somehow wouldn’t exist if all the people who sing such songs went and lived them out.”

Hirsch and Frost take this in a different direction; but what struck me was the idea that this guy in Sheldon’s story was listening in on the service and thereby holding the people accountable for what they were singing.

The thought then occurred to me that perhaps we ought to allow more ‘eavesdropping’ to go on by the community at large.   What if we invited a handful of people from the broader culture to sit in on our meetings; not just the marginalized, but also business and civic leaders and working class folk who don’t believe.   We’d tell them that the purpose is not to convert them, but we want them, by their very presence, to hold us accountable.

pulpit03In fact rather than have them sit on the sidelines or sit at the back, why not put them on the platform, facing the congregation, where they would best be able to observe us at worship.

Then the idea struck me, why not get 20 or 30 such people on a weekly basis, and put them in the choir loft. I’m thinking of those  evangelical churches in particular, constructed post WWII up to the turn of the century, where the choir faces directly at the audience, the very place where worship teams have rendered the choir loft redundant.* Your neighbors, co-workers, unchurched relatives, fellow students, etc.   They could just sit there while we sang, prayed and read our Bibles.   It’s Jim and Caspar Go To Church on steriods.

Would that give our worship and witness more authenticity?  How would we worship differently with the world not only looking in, but looking right at us; locking their eyes with our own; inside our too-often members-only club?

Jus’ thinkin’ out loud.


*But I’ll settle for that large collection of chairs in the picture, also common to churches of that era; but rendered equally redundant by the move towards participants sitting with the audience until it’s time for their part. Finding the picture I actually wanted proved difficult, since most churches post pictures of their building exterior, not the inner chambers.

Personal postscript to above:  The church I attended in my teens in Toronto had such a large platform party that one of the pastors would come on to the stage about 15 minutes before the service started and count them, to make sure they had exactly the right number.    We decided his titles should be, “Minister of Chairs.”   But alas, I digress.   This is about accountability.

The book, Re Jesus is published in paperback by Hendrickson.

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