Several of the people who visit anewdoxology each day get here by following a link on the Journey webpage. Journey is the worship service that I helped start last month at a church in Golden Valley, Minnesota (a suburb of Minneapolis). We worship on Sundays at 5:00pm and if any of you live in the Minneapolis area and would like to experience something different than what most churches offer on Sunday mornings, you should check it out. You can read what I wrote about Journey, or go to the Journey site for more information (including directions and a link to podcast sermons).
We have a lot of fun “doing church” a bit differently at Journey, including the music, messages and overall worship “style.” We realize that not everyone is immersed in the Christian sub-culture (music, media, books, etc.), and we also realize that when people come to worship — or a concert for that matter — their level of comfortability is often influenced by how familiar they are with the music. If they know the songs, they feel right at home; but if they’ve never heard the songs before, they might feel uncomfortable and out of place.
The last thing we want to do at Journey is create an uncomfortable atmosphere where people don’t feel like they can connect in worship. So, as a small step to help people connect, I created a playlist on iTunes of all the songs we’ve used in worship at Journey (so far). These are not recordings of Ben and the worship band, but the original versions of the songs that we borrowed for worship. You can download the songs for $0.99 each and burn them onto a CD, put them on your iPod/mp3 player or just listen to them on your computer. The thought is that if we are more familiar with the music, we will feel more comfortable in worship and be able to sing together with confidence. Our hope is that these songs will become anthems for our community and a soundtrack for our lives.
Here’s a link to the Journey: fresh worship playlist on .
Note: if you don’t have iTunes, click here to download it for free.
This may sound like a scam on craigslist, but it’s actually a real ad that The Drew Marshall Show ran last June in the Toronto Star (newspaper). Drew hosts a radio show in Canada and they were trying to recruit participants for what they called “The Five Churches Experiment” (The actual newspaper ad read: “We’ll pay you to go to church! $500 to visit 5 churches!”). What was the catch? In order to be chosen (and paid) to be part of the experiment, applicants had to be “pagan/new age/agnostic/ atheist/whatever… someone with no church background.” Two people were selected for the experiment (one male, one female – they agreed to split the money) and over this past summer, they attended various churches in the Toronto area and then shared their thoughts/reactions on-air (Drew’s radio show) and online (Drew’s blog). In addition to their written summaries of each church, they also evaluated the churches on some categories like the building, friendliness, tunes, preaching and institutional vibe (each category was given a score of 0 to 4, where 0 = Brutal, 1 = Whatever, 2 = Nice Try, 3 = Good On Ya, 4 = WOW!). Canadians are great, eh? To be honest, I haven’t read/listened to everything on this, but I think it’s a really interesting idea for a study. Of particular interest to me where the three reasons they gave for doing it,
- to model for the Christian community, healthy dialogue NOT debate.
- to provide accurate observations from a real live objective “outsider” to anyone from the Church who might actually be interested.
- to provoke discussion in a numb and desensitized culture, begging for authenticity!
If you’d like to read more about this unique experiment, follow these links.
For the past few months I’ve been working at a church to help start a new worship service. The service is called Journey and it will meet Sundays at 5 pm starting this Sunday (January 20) at Calvary Lutheran Church of Golden Valley. The pastor for Journey is a friend of mine named Kevin Johnson who is a great speaker and author (look him up on Amazon to check out all the books he’s written), the worship leader is a talented young guy named Ben Hertle (who is also a driver for Simon Delivers) and I’ll be serving as the community director (while continuing my studies at Luther Seminary, until I graduate in May). I’m excited to be working with Kevin and Ben and I believe the three of us bring together a lot of valuable experiences that will enrich the overall ministry of Journey.
If you live in the Minneapolis area and are interested in checking out a refreshingly simple, engaging and authentic worship service, Journey might be a good fit for you and your friends. We’re calling it worship “untucked” because the three of us don’t usually tuck in our shirts, and we think there should be a church where other “untuckers” can come to worship as themselves…so feel free to wear your best jeans and t-shirt if that’s your style, or if you feel more comfortable dressing up for church, that’s fine too. Journey is not just for young adults — there are no age restrictions — although the style of music and messages will probably connect with people in their younger adult years. Journey is for people who are seeking relevant expressions of faith and real experiences with God in and through a worship community that is rooted in Jesus Christ.
If you’d like more information (including directions) you can go to the Journey webpage or just come check it out on Sundays at 5 pm starting January 20 (note: Journey will meet at 3 pm on Super Bowl Sunday, February 3).
I realize my opinion might be biased, but I think my dad has an incredible ability to observe what’s going on around him and then clearly communicate it to others. His gift of observing and describing what he’s experienced has been a blessing for me and my family, as well as my dad’s co-workers, friends and others who have been reading his blog while he’s been living and working in Tanzania. In an entry he wrote today, he describes what he experienced while attending two new churches this morning. It’s a powerful story of ordinary people confessing their sinfulness and God’s incredible gift of forgiveness. Here’s what he wrote…
This morning I attended two separate churches in Iringa – the Kihesa church and the Cathedral church. Both are large churches with straight-backed wooden pews neatly lining the sanctuary, but too close together for an overweight Minnesotan. As you shuffle into the pew, you step on the two-by-four wooden kneelers, barely lifted above the tiled floor. Everyone entering the pew slides their shoes across those kneelers.
Shoes scruff up the kneelers, depositing the remnants of weekly journeys. Journeys through the red soil of Africa. Telltale signs of manure from the livestock. Deposits from the market streets and shops in Iringa. Dust from homes and roadsides and the shuffling up the hill to church. As we walk across those kneelers into the pew, the busyness of our week is ground into the wood.
And then it’s time for confession. We kneel, our knees firmly planted in the grime from our shoes, the grime from our lives, and we ask God to forgive us. With dirty knees, stained by the journeys of our week, we together cry to God for help, for a new start, for a clean slate.
The pastor proclaims words of forgiveness from God. All is forgiven. All is forgotten. We rise, dust the dirt from our knees and leave renewed.
I have many blessings in my life (many of which I probably don’t even recognize as blessings). I have a great family, wonderful friends, material possessions (that I care far too much about), and – on my better days – a faith that guides me through life. One of the earliest expressions of thanks that I learned as a young boy was the doxology, a song that religious folks have been singing to God for several centuries.
The most common version of the doxology (the one I have sung in church and at my grandma’s house since I can remember) comes from a hymn written by Thomas Ken in the 17th Century (lyrics below).
The word doxology comes from two Greek words, doxa (meaning ‘glory’) and logos (meaning ‘word’), so quite literally, doxology means “words to glorify.”
The title I have chosen for this blog – “a new doxology” – is not a statement against earlier doxologies, but an expression of my hope that together (assuming others are interested in joining me on this journey) we will create fresh new ways to express our thanks and praise, not to mention our wonder and confusion, about God. In short, I want to create doxology remixes that help today’s younger generations discover and express new “words to glorify” using language that is meaningful to them; although I never want to forget these beautiful old words…
“Praise God, from Whom all blessings flow; Praise Him, all creatures here below; Praise Him above, ye heavenly host; Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.”