OK, so I’m not the first person to write about the coronavirus and its effect on churches and how we operate and minister to our congregations. But to be fair, none of us knew a month ago (or even a week or two ago) that this pandemic would shut down almost everything and change almost everything else.
Like I mentioned in my last post, I started my MDiv this semester, and this is technically my Spring Break. I’m an online student, so it isn’t like a typical Spring Break anyway. I was hoping to get caught up on some reading and to finish a paper that’s due next Saturday. Instead, I’ve had to learn how to livestream our church services on the fly. Wasn’t expecting that.
The cool thing is that I’ve been planning to get us online for a while now. I’ve been researching best practices and gear so, when the time was right, I could pull the trigger on streaming with confidence.
Then we had to close for at least two Sundays if not more.
We already post all sermons to YouTube and our website, and we have a simulated live Church Online portal where folks can view a service every even numbered hour Pacific time 24/7. This week we’re adding Facebook Live.
If anyone is interested in the tech side of things, here are some of the tools we’re using…
If you have questions on how we’re using these platforms and tools, hit me up on social media or my contact page. I may not have all the answers, but if enough of us ask enough questions, eventually someone will come up with the answer. Or something. Maybe.
Look, a lot of us swim in uncharted waters in our ministries. If you’re in vocational ministry, take a look at your job description when you first started your current position. How close is it to your current reality? I’m guessing not very. Same goes for volunteers. Learning any new systems or procedures lately?
Not many of us thought we’d be video producers. But then we were. And still are. And will be.
Ministry is changing. The Church isn’t. The Church is still the Bride of Christ. The Church is still God’s plan for getting the Gospel to the nations. The Church is still important. The Church is its people. We may meet in different ways – some temporary, some ongoing. Be we meet. We worship. We work together. And we figure things out. God is worth our effort.
As those of you who have followed this blog can attest, I have REALLY neglected posting on #NoCamo in recent months. OK, years.
I’m hoping that my MDiv and its writing-intensive requirements will not hinder my blogging further. In fact, I hope it will spur an uptick in output, as the creative writing juices will be flowing and the overflow can land here. I’d like to document this academic journey here – highs, lows, and the experience in general.
I’ll be sharing what I’m learning, how it pertains to my ministry in its current context, takeaways, frustrations, successes, and all the rest. I’m excited to be on this journey and look forward to what’s to come.
I’ve been telling folks at my church that the days and weeks have been running together lately. Part of this is because it’s summer, and summer days tend to be less remarkable somehow than days through the rest of the year.
The main reason I feel my days are running together is because in the last two weeks I’ve had the blessed opportunity to minister to children in Anchorage, Alaska, and at my church during our Vacation Bible School.
Myself and three others comprised our mission team tasked with working in Alaska with GraceWorks Alaska. This is an organization whose sole purpose is to minister to impoverished children in public parks around Anchorage and the surrounding areas.
Our team was assigned to Kanchee Park, a small public park near Central Baptist Church in Anchorage, where our team was housed for the week. We had anywhere from 10 to 30 school-age kids and parents every day. We fed them, played games with them, told them Bible stories, and just spent time getting to know them.
Many of the kids were latchkey. They came from various degrees of poverty. Many wore the same clothes day to day. And yes, some were hard nuts to crack. But a few of them had soft hearts in spite of tragic stories.
I had the opportunity to give the gospel twice – once during our park party on Tuesday evening, and again on Friday. I gave the Bible lesson on Friday. The whole week we talked about Easter and what it means. On Friday, I used my family’s set of resurrection eggs to go through the Easter story. Since it was our last day in the park, we handed out gospel tracks while we were packing up. A couple of the kids recognized the cross in the tract as the cross in the egg we discussed.
Although no kids that we knew of accepted Christ while we were there, I have to believe that those kids will remember this summer, and the group from Nevada came to the park, fed them, and loved on them. Lord willing, I’ll get to go back.
It’s easy to be so laser focused on our particular ministries that we fail to notice other needs, other tasks for the kingdom that God in his sovereignty can use us to accomplish. I feel like I learned to be more mindful of those around me and their particular struggles and needs. I pray I don’t forget that. I pray I don’t focus so intently on the people that come to my church that I forget about the vast majority of people that do not.
All people are souls that Jesus died for. All people matter. May that grip me in the days ahead.
Someday you will read or hear that Billy Graham is dead. Don’t you believe a word of it. I shall be more alive than I am now. I will just have changed my address. I will have gone into the presence of God.
I have seen this quote many times today. The day when Billy Graham indeed passed away. And I have seen well-wishers say, “Rest In Peace.”
I have often wondered why believers make such a statement!
Billy Graham is in the presence of the King. He is NOT resting. He is basking in the glory of the God he served so well in this life. And while he now knows a peace that is impossible to achieve in our sinful world, he needs no rest.
When I started playing electric guitar, I had three main influences…
Nuno Bettencourt, of Extreme
Eddie Van Halen himself
John Petrucci, of Dream Theater
Much of my philosophy on tone and style of play came from these guys. But Petrucci playing was, hands down, the reason I wanted to play guitar.
My first real amp was a Marshall Valvestate 2X12 combo. I needed versatility in tone, but couldn’t afford a Triaxis/Simul 2:90 rig like Johnny P. Plus, I think all players go through some trial and error in the beginning before their style and ability reveals the kind of gear they should use.
I traded the Marshall in for an ADA MP-2 with a MicroTube 100 power amp. Later, I added an Alesis MidiVerb for reverbs and delays. Other units swapped in and out, but that was my core sound for about twenty years.
A few months ago, I sold it all for one pedal, and I’m very glad I did.
There are a lot of haters against Line 6 in the guitarist community. And I get it. Does my HD500X sound exactly like a Marshall stack? No, not exactly. Does it have the features and options of an AxeFX or a Kemper? No.
Does it come darn close for $500? All day every day.
Still, I firmly believe that I could plug into that old Valvestate today and still sound like me. Amps and pedals are just tools.
I primarily play while leading worship, so I really only use two sounds – clean and dirty. I use a sparkly Metallica “Unforgiven” clean sound, and my dirty sound is EVH’s pedals running into a Line 6 Epic amp (which doesn’t actually exist, and I LOVE that. It’s like my signature model.)
Bottom line: I sound great, and I can carry my rig, guitar, and cable bag in one hand. Can’t beat that.
Do I miss tha Monster? Yeah, occasionally. But the pros outweigh the cons.
Here’s a video of me leading at my church from earlier this year. Judge for yourself.
I recently heard a sermon where the preacher said that it is easy to get discouraged about your life, job, and diet if you spend too much time on Instagram.
See, in that little square glowing world, everyone’s life looks perfect.
Not real, but perfect.
And I’m susceptible. If I’m not careful, I can get the impression that EVERYONE has EVERYTHING better than me. And that can bog a guy down.
Trusting a God that is not visible and that sometimes can even feel distant is not always easy, either. God IS worthy of our trust and our faith, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy when (it feels like) nothing is happening.
(it feels like) Momentum has stalled.
(it feels like) Giving up is an option.
We don’t feel the movement of the earth hurtling through the Solar System at thousands of miles an hour either. Doesn’t mean it isn’t happening in dramatic fashion.
I know that I know that I know that God loves me and is for me. Even when I forget.