Hellbound Documentary

Along with Rob Bell’s book, Love Wins, has come quite a bit of discussion on the topic of Hell. After that book was released, Francis Chan and many other authors started writing on the subject. I’ve even written on the subject here on my blog many times as well as in my book The Prophetic Jacket. And now a documentary on the topic is coming out that I’m quite interested to see… (click to see exclusive clips)

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Along with Rob Bell’s book, Love Wins, has come quite a bit of discussion on the topic of Hell. After that book was released, Francis Chan and many other authors started writing on the subject. I’ve even written on the subject here on my blog many times as well as in my book The Prophetic Jacket. And now a documentary on the topic is coming out that I’m quite interested to see, especially knowing that interviews with people like Greg Boyd are in it. Check out Hellbound’s webpage for more info and Kevin Miller’s Vimeo for more clips.

Love Wins: Further Discussion

Rob Bell has always been one of my heroes as far as crafting an intelligent and creative message goes. For that reason he’s always been one of my favorite authors.

When I first heard about his new book, it was from some pretty nasty comments. Nasty comments from people who hadn’t read the book. Nasty comments from people who couldn’t read the book because it wasn’t even out yet.

I did my best to defend him and tell people to wait and read it, but even I was nervous. Honestly, I didn’t even want to read the book which was odd because I love his writings. But, I bought it and read it quickly because I knew if I was going to continue to promote the things he taught, I needed to know what he had said in this book.

I thought the first two chapters were ingenious. After that, I was kind of back and forth with what he said and at some points offended, and other times I couldn’t agree more. And then, when I finished the book in it’s entirety, I felt alright about it all.

Now I hope you came across this post with a lot of time on your hands, because I’d like to post a video of my friend and mentor, Dr. Brewer as he further addresses this book and this topic with a lot of wisdom:

Love is Not a Bullhorn

Let’s get something straight here church: you were called to love people and give them God’s life, NOT to speak hell and death over them. Sadly, it’s always our mistakes that make the news:

The owner of an Ohio strip club and some of his dancers have been protesting at a church that has done the same to them for four years…They [the church] come armed with bullhorns, signs and video cameras for posting customers’ license plate numbers online.

There is a very delicate balance to what you preach. It’s not all law. It’s not all sin. There is the incredibly important aspect of forgiveness that one man died for. You also might recall that He died silently and not with a bullhorn.

Jesus never even needed a bullhorn anyways. Why? Because He showed people love so perfectly that crowds would not leave Him alone! They had to have more of Him! They hung on His every word.

Jodi read me an amazing story out of Orson Scott Card’s, “Speaker for the Dead” just the other day. I think it applies well to this situation:

A Great Rabbi stands, teaching in the marketplace. It happens that a husband finds proof that morning of his wife’s adultery, and a mob carries her to the marketplace to stone her to death.

There is a familiar version of this story, but a friend of mine – a Speaker for the Dead – has told me of two other Rabbis that faced the same situation. Those are the ones I’m going to tell you.

The Rabbi walks forward and stands beside the woman. Out of respect for him the mob forbears and waits with the stones heavy in their hands. ‘Is there any man here,’ he says to them, ‘who has not desired another man’s wife, another woman’s husband?’

They murmur and say, ‘We all know the desire, but Rabbi none of us has acted on it.’

The Rabbi says, ‘Then kneel down and give thanks that God has made you strong.’ He takes the woman by the hand and leads her out of the market. Just before he lets her go, he whispers to her, ‘Tell the Lord Magistrate who saved his mistress, then he’ll know I am his loyal servant.’

So the woman lives because the community is too corrupt to protect itself from disorder.

Another Rabbi. Another city. He goes to her and stops the mob as in the other story and says, ‘Which of you is without sin? Let him cast the first stone.’

The people are abashed, and they forget their unity of purpose in the memory of their own individual sins. ‘Someday,’ they think, ‘I may be like this woman. And I’ll hope for forgiveness and another chance. I should treat her as I wish to be treated.’

As they opened their hands and let their stones fall to the ground, the Rabbi picks up one of the fallen stones, lifts it high over the woman’s head and throws it straight down with all his might it crushes her skull and dashes her brain among the cobblestones. ‘Nor am I without sins,’ he says to the people, ‘but if we allow only perfect people to enforce the law, the law will soon be dead – and our city with it.’

So the woman died because her community was too rigid to endure her deviance.

The famous version of this story is noteworthy because it is so startlingly rare in our experience. Most communities lurch between decay and rigor mortis and when they veer too far they die. Only one Rabbi dared to expect of us such a perfect balance that we could preserve the law and still forgive the deviation.

So of course, we killed him.

Works Cited:

Bullhorn Guy. Perf. Rob Bell. NOOMA. DVD.

Card, Orson Scott. Speaker for the Dead. New York, NY: TOR, 1986. Print.”

Dancers from Ohio Strip Club Protest at Church – Yahoo! News.” The Top News Headlines on Current Events from Yahoo! News – Yahoo! News. Web. 10 Aug. 2010. <http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20100810/ap_on_fe_st/us_odd_strippers_protest_church&gt;.

Why Were the Ninevites So Ready for God?

I’m doing some research on Jonah right now and if you’ve ever read it, you might have realized that the story is not like the one you were taught in Sunday school. Jonah is really more of a whiner than a hero. There’s also a lot of information we miss in this story if we don’t read between the lines. We also have lots of questions to ask by the end of it. But for now I thought we’d focus on the one question found in the title of this post:

Why were the Ninevites so ready for God?

Seriously. Jonah shows up in an enemy town and starts preaching on a 3 day walk around the city, basically telling the Ninevites to turn from their evil ways or be overthrown. The Ninevites have about 4 other false gods, but not the God of the Jews. So how on earth did this preaching actually catch Nineveh’s ear and cause them change?

Well, The Bible Knowledge Commentary helps us read between the lines into a great possibility as to why this might be. Around the time the story of Jonah is thought to have taken place, Nineveh had recorded two plagues that had happened in their city, as well as a solar eclipse. Now the Ninevites would have attributed these three events to a deity, which in turn would have prepared them for Jonah’s message.

And actually, if you think about it, this shows God’s work in another city outside of Israel, because we have in fact seen God use plagues to get people’s attention before. And so, while our focus is on Israel and the Jews, it appears that God has been trying to reach people outside of the Jews. Jonah was the next step in His plan to show Nineveh His love and spare them from any more wrath.

God’s love for all people? Before Jesus and the whole Jew and Gentile thing?

Yeah, it’s pretty much always been like that. Even the genetic line of Jesus consisted of a few people who weren’t originally Jewish (such Rahab and Ruth). Rob Bell also makes a great point about the conversation Joshua had with the angel in Joshua 5:13-15.

Joshua to the angel: “Are you for us or for our adversaries?”

Angel to Joshua: “No; rather I indeed come now as captain of the host of the LORD.”

Rob Bell points out in his message that it’s fascinating that the angel doesn’t claim a side, relating this fact to God’s love for all people.

Now we see God’s work in Nineveh (perhaps outside of Jewish knowledge) and Jonah being brought into the loop of it all. And then, when God decides not to bring destruction on Nineveh, what is Jonah’s understanding as to why God doesn’t do so?

…I knew that You are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindness, and one who relents concerning calamity. (Jonah 4:2)

—————————————————————————–
Bell, Rob. Mars Hill, Grand Rapids. Lecture.

Walvoord, John F., and Roy B. Zuck. The Bible Knowledge Commentary: an Exposition of the Scriptures. Wheaton, Ill.: Victor, 1983. Print.

The Power of Imagination

You may look at the picture above and already know the drawn out word that is coming out of Spongebob’s mouth as he paints his rainbow through the air.

Imagination!”

“What?” you say. “What the heck is that?”

“Well you know,” I reply. “It’s that cool thing you had way back before you wore that suit and tie. It’s that staring out the window you did in math class, as you wondered what it would be like to be a superhero. It’s that asking the question, I wonder what my toys do in my room when I leave. It’s that thing that used to make the boring times fun, and the fun times funner.”

It’s that scene from Hook that you love so much:

Eat it Rufio! Now tell me there wasn’t a little bit inside you when you watch that scene that says “Oh man I wish that was real!” It’s imagination on film capturing the imagination in your heart. Who doesn’t want to have a giant food fight with a bunch of little kids? Maybe even rub a little sherbet (or whatever that is) in some punk’s face.

And that’s the beauty of that film. It’s about one man who rediscovers his childhood—the same man who used to be the Pan rediscovers the imagination that ruled and created Neverland.

Or how about the movie Alice? Let me tell you, if you try taking imagination out of that movie, then you’ll be left with about 2 seconds of film to watch.

Even if you didn’t like this movie, you still can’t help but admit the beauty of its imagination. Everywhere you look is the weirdest things you’ve ever seen. Rocking horse bugs. Talking, smoking caterpillars. Creepy, crazy rabbits. Flamingo-hedgehog golf. Walking, talking, speaking, decks of cards. You watch a movie like this and you only wish that you could go fall down a rabbit hole. Why? Because again, the imagination on film has captured the imagination of your heart and your childhood.

Or maybe you’d like to take a trip to visit the Na’vi.

Sure, maybe it’s similar to Pocahontas, but it’s imagination is so great that this movie was a box office smash. In fact, the domestic box office estimate as of June 6, 2010 is $749,210,000. That’s the domestic world record right now! And if you really want to throw up, you should know that the worldwide box office estimate for Avatar is $2,727,210,000! Now if only our government could make a movie like that, we’d be 2 billion dollars closer to paying off our debt!

Seriously though, what on earth could possibly make a movie sell like that? Is it just because of the new graphic technology they created just to make the movie? Or is it because of the creativity and imagination seen through that new graphic technology? I mean, who would have ever thought a bunch of real looking, tall, blue people running through a beautiful canvas of rainforest would sell so well?

Apparently the imaginative James Cameron did. And because of it, he was able to put a pricetag on imagination.

A 2.7 billion dollar price-tag.

And it’s not over for this movie either. I’ve heard that the extended version of Avatar will come to theaters in the near future so that they can juice the movie for all they can. And then after that, the movie will be re-released on blu-ray, DVD, etc., as the extended version.

And incase 2.7 billion dollars doesn’t quite show the power of imagination, maybe human lives will. I stumbled across this article a little while back:

Fans of the film have flooded the internet to express their distress at realising they will never be able to visit the utopian planet.

On one website, Avatar Forums, the topic “Ways to cope with the depression of the dream of Pandora being intangible” has more than 1,000 posts.

Ivar Hill, a 17-year-old fan from Sweden, wrote on a similar site: “When I woke up this morning after watching Avatar for the first time yesterday, the world seemed grey. It was like my whole life, everything I’ve done and worked for, lost its meaning … It just seems so meaningless. I still don’t really see any reason to keep doing things at all. I live in a dying world.”

On another website, a user known as Mike was even more acutely affected. He wrote: “Ever since I went to see Avatar I have been depressed. Watching the wonderful world of Pandora and all the Na’vi made me want to be one of them.

“I can’t stop thinking about all the things that happened in the film and all of the tears and shivers I got from it. I even contemplate suicide thinking that if I do it I will be rebirthed in a world similar to Pandora and the everything is the same as in Avatar.”

Stacy Kaiser, a psychotherapist, said obsession with the film was masking more serious problems in the fans’ lives. “They’re seeing Avatar, they’re lonely people, a lot of them don’t have a lot going on in their lives right now,” she said. “The movie opened up a portal for them to express their depression.”

Now don’t take what I’m trying to say here out of context as suicide, obviously, is not an area I am looking to extend imagination to. This depression is a perversion that satan has made on imagination. But it still does, in an odd sense, show you just how powerful imagination can be.

It’s the Pan to the Peter.
It’s the Wonderland to the Alice.
It’s the  Pandora to the Na’vi.

And so now you say, “That’s great Jamin, but what does this mean for us?”

Well my fellow church-goers and clergymen, incase you haven’t noticed, we tend to be lacking this power in the majority of our churches. Sure, we’ve updated our music, and created a modern vibe to our venues, but we are still lacking imagination.

God gets it. He’s imaginative. Maybe you’ve taken a look at the “Pandora” around you. It’s beautiful. Wonderful. It’s the most magnificent thing you will see on earth. Now just imagine if you could have seen Eden.

God is imaginative and creative.

Or for those of you charismatics/pentecostals out there, perhaps you’ve seen a lot of weird things happen in your churches. Manna appearing in Bibles. Weird visions of Heaven. Gold teeth appearing in people’s mouths. Random people collapsing to the floor and convulsing. Oil appearing on walls. Rain pouring down inside of buildings. Fog appearing inside of buildings. People drunk in the Spirit. People speaking in tongues.

Tell me, which of any of those things above seem normal to you? Why doesn’t God live in a box and do things that make sense? Why does He interact with us in these weird, crazy, creative, imaginative ways?

The truth?

I don’t know!

But the fact is He does! He could just speak clearly to us and all would be well, but often times He doesn’t! Instead the God of imagination portrays His imagination and interacts with us imaginatively. He did so all throughout the Bible, and He does so today.

But we still don’t take a hint! Even in these charismatic circles we often wait on God to show up and do His imaginative things instead of putting any time or effort into pursuing imagination ourselves. But from what I’ve seen, God loves to dream with us! If we plan a service or a message outside of the moment it’s going on, He will meet us and help us to do so!

If we ask Him to show up and help us write a message, He will come alongside us and teach us. That’s not to say that we can’t be spontaneous in the service itself, but that we already have something God has given us in advance to go off of. Imagination is usually planned in advance. I mean, sure you can still come up with imaginative stuff on the spot, but the more it’s thought through and prepared, typically the more effective it will be.

I give us credit, we’ve already added a lot of imagination to our churches. We’ve added lights to help create a worshipful atmosphere, videos to further illustrate points, and updated our music selection and genre and whatnot. And while many churches could still use a greater level of professionalism in these things, one of the big areas we need to work on updating is our messages.

I’m speaking to churches in general.

As you may have noticed, most churches are incredibly focused on the message. And it’s for a good reason too. The message is a time for the community to learn what God has told us in the past, what He is speaking to us today, and what He is revealing to us about the future. It is a fairly essential moment in the church service and it carries a lot of weight. Or at least it’s supposed to.

But a lack of imagination has left us with dry, boring, dull (even meaningless) messages. The sermon is meant to be an art. (Just take a look at the prophets and the imagination God infused into their messages.) It is a deep look at the incredibly imaginative Bible that is filled with the most creative stories ever told. Yet our imagination hardly captures the Word of God and we reinvent these creative stories into boring lectures.

There is little to reflect upon in these messages, leaving the community with the ever-growing question of, “Where do I want to go out for lunch today?”

A lack of preparation does not give the Spirit more room to move.
An overwhelming amount of structure does not give the Spirit room to move.

It is somewhere between this battle that God seems to move best. This is becoming something I’m growing increasingly passionate about. Especially as I get closer and closer to taking on a pastoral position myself. I never want to preach a meaningless sermon. I never want to preach something dry, boring, and dull. Doing so degrades the art of the sermon and can even put bounds on God’s ability to move in a service.

Think about it. If you come before the church and present a sermon that is unimaginative, it may not reach many ears. They’ll have zoned out long ago. And if you haven’t prepared a message, your sermon will also be lacking imaginative strengths. So now you get to a spot where you want to let God move and do “His thing.”

Well you better hope “His thing” wasn’t related to the message because nobody was moved by it if they were even listening in the first place.

Is that to say that His movement is restricted?
No.

But I do think it is safe to say that you’ve put bounds on God’s ability to move in the service.

I think my biggest inspiration to become a pastor would be the messages of Rob Bell. He’s the author of my favorite book, Sex God, as well as two of my other favorite books, Velvet Elvis and Jesus Wants to Save Christians. He’s also the pastor of Mars Hill and you are able to listen to his weekly messages via the church’s podcast.

Let me tell you. You will NEVER find fluff or dry, boring, dull stuff coming from this man. Even if you disagree with anything he says, you will at least be challenged and pushed and constantly amused by his lectures. Until I heard this man preach, I had no idea that sermons could actually be good! And not just good, but amazing! And not just amazing once a year, but amazing every single week! His messages are so eye-popping, revelatory, and full of depth. And so they should be, since Rob Bell recently held a conference entitled: Poets, Prophets and Preachers. This was a conference to reclaim the art of the sermon, because he understands the true importance of it.

Still don’t feel as though it’s really that important? Check out the story of how his church came to be as he writes about it in his book Velvet Elvis:

The ethos heavily shaped my understandings of what a church should be like: strip everything away and get down to the most basic elements. A group of people desperate to experience God.

Please realize that to this day I have never read a book on church planting or church growth or been to a seminar on how to start a church. I remember being told that a sign had been rented with the church name on it to go in front of the building where we were meeting. I was mortified and had them get rid of it. You can’t put a sign out front, I argued; people have to want to find us. And so there were no advertisements, no flyers, no promotions, and no signs.

The thought of the word church and the word marketing in the same sentence makes me sick…

And the strangest thing happened: People came on the first Sunday.

I remember like it was yesterday. A few people came to get me five minutes before the first service and said I had to look out the front windows. I was not prepared for what I saw. Cars and people everywhere. They proceeded to tell me there were traffic jams in every direction; they had run out of chairs; and people were giving up trying to get through the traffic and just pulling over on the side of the road, parking, and walking the rest of the way…

Now I’m going to give you some numbers. And I hesitate to do this because few things are more difficult to take than spiritual leaders who are always talking about how big their thing is. But it happened and it’s true and it’s part of my story.

There were well over 1,000 people there the first Sunday…

More people came the next week.

And even more came the following week…

In the next month or two, over two thousand people were showing up on Sundays.

And by September of that first year, we had to hold three services, pushing things to over 4,000 people in the first six months…

All we cared about was trying to teach and live the way of Jesus…

And then, several months into it, the fire marshal showed up. Not good. Legal, but not good.

He said we were over code and illegal, and we would have to start turning people away at the doors. We literally had to post people at the doors, and when the room was full, they had to stand there and tell people they weren’t legally allowed to go into the service…

So we bought a mall. Actually, somebody gave us a mall, and we bought the parking lots surrounding it…

Once again I am going to give you some numbers, and I hesitate to do so, but it is part of the story and it helps to explain the rest. Two years into, there were around 10,000 people coming to the three gatherings on Sundays.

Did you catch that? TEN THOUSAND PEOPLE!? Why would ten thousand people show up for church in just a couple years? Well for one, these people were obviously encountering God and being changed by Him. And don’t for a second think that it has nothing to do with the message. The message is a big part of Mars Hill’s services. And if you’ve heard this guy preach and felt the change God brought to your life through the imagination of his messages, you’d want to be going there every week, too.

Is it solely because of his imagination? No, we can see many other factors in this church too, but I believe a big reason as to why people stay there is the creativity in the messages. And not just because they’re creative, but because of God’s unbound ability to work through these prepared messages.

I think it’s also safe to say that God led people to this church. How else do 1,000 people show up the first day at a church that has no marketing campaign whatsoever? That has to be supernatural! For this reason, I think God knew these imaginative messages were what His people needed to grow closer to Him.

In closing you may be wondering “Who am I to speak so passionately towards our preachers?”

Well, I’ve been in church for the last 22 years, and I know a thing or two about what catches my attention and what helps me grow. Outside of that, I am studying to become a pastor and I really hope I can remember the importance of imagination when I get there. Especially since teaching is the biggest thing I’m looking forward to.

I’m really not looking to be rude or a jerk, but it is about time we put some imagination into our sermons and churches.

Why?

Because it’s 2.7 billion dollars of power.
Because human life is affected by it.
Because it frees God to do His work.

And so in order to regain some of my own childhood imagination, I take a blast to the past. The following video holds a recording of my childhood friend and myself, pretending to be radio hosts named Bob and Bob.

Works Cited

“Avatar Fans Suicidal Because Planet Pandora Is Not Real – Telegraph.” Telegraph.co.uk: News, Business, Sport, the Daily Telegraph Newspaper, Sunday Telegraph – Telegraph. Web. 08 June 2010. <http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/film/film-news/6977817/Avatar-fans-suicidal-because-planet-Pandora-is-not-real.html&gt;.

Bell, Rob. Velvet Elvis: Repainting the Christian Faith. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Zondervan, 2005. 98-103. Print.

DJ Led Worship—Re:Fresh

Alright, so some of you know that I used to DJ at these strange Christian raves and that I also hope to do so in the future. While I was browsing around the interweb, I came across an event we did at Cornerstone Festival in Illinois written by my DJing mentor, DJ Race, AKA John Rhaesa. If you’re curious about how awesome DJ led worship can get, check out the article below or see the real page here.

Written by John Rhaesa

Re:fresh ambient/chillout worship night took place in the Dance Barn at Cornerstone Music Festival in Bushnell, Illinois at 1:00 to 3:00 am on July 2, 2005. It was intended to reenergize and renew people’s passion for Jesus Christ. It all got started when Cindy Tucker from the Underground in Cincinnati, had a conversation with my friend DJ Davo (Dave Copeland) about hosting an interactive worship experience at Cornerstone. Davo explained to Cindy what I have been experimenting with at my church and Cindy asked if it would be possible to submit a demo and the rest is history.

As far as my background is concerned, I have been DJing for many years hosting Christian events called House Party. In the last year and half, I have been given the opportunity to DJ in my local church (Relevant Church). One of the pastors there invited me to DJ the worship service shortly after we began attending. Since that time, we have incorporated DJ led worship by using music from the decks before, after, during worship, prayer and communion times.

Elements of Worship

If Re:fresh was to become a two-hour multi-sensory DJ led worship experience, creating an atmosphere where people could relax and come close to God was essential. To that effect, the stage was covered in candles. This was just part one element that help to build an atmosphere of worship. Some of the other elements included chill out / ambient music, video elements, an actual artist painting during the event, creative use of lighting (other than candles) and so on. Here are more detailed descriptions of each element:

Chill out/Ambient music
Spinning some of the latest and classic tracks to create an atmosphere of worship, led by DJ Race (John Rhaesa)

Video
Vjing ambient visuals and scripture references to add another dimension to the worship experience, led DJ Jamin (Jamin Bradley)

Air Brush Artist
Clint Dunning from Haylo Clothing expressed his love for God by airbrushing a large mural. He also provided t-shirts for the DJ’s to wear during the event.

Lighting
Lighting help to created an atmosphere for worship throughout the evening with various lighting elements, led by DJ 9

Worship Guide
Guided and directed people through the worship stations for the evening, led by Hypostatic (Victor Minetola)

Interactive stations
The following six interactive stations/events made up the remaining elements of worship.

The Cross
This was the first station of the night. People were asked to write on index cards using there finger and red tempera paint what was holding them back in there relationship with God. These cards were then nailed to the cross and left behind.

Magnify
This station used scripture to form the shape of an eye. The font was extremely small and you had to use a rock that magnified the type to read the scripture. This was designed to help you refocus on what you see. From a distance you could see an eye, but as you looked closer you could read God’s word. God is everywhere in our lives if we just take the time to focus our attention towards him. Some examples of the scripture used included:

O magnify the LORD with me, And let us exalt His name together.
– Psalm 34:3
I will praise the name of God with song and magnify Him with thanksgiving.
– Psalm 69:30

Noise Video
At one point, we simply stopped all of the music and had complete silence for about 7 minutes as people read the text on the video screen. Teaching us that we need to intentionally take time and be still and spend time with God.

Communion
There were 12 loaves of bread in different shapes and sizes. Twelve different people from the dance community brought the loaves one at a time to Victor at the altar in the center of the dance barn. The bread was then formed into the shape of a man, whose body was then broken to serve communion.


Candlelight Worship
Everyone was given a candle as we closed the service with Your Love is Extravagant (Nate Manners – Unorthodox), The Sky (Cloud2Ground) and the I Love you Lord/Open My Eyes medley from (Nitro Praise 7).

The Worship Experience
So, what happened during the worship experience? Well, God showed up! In the beginning of the night I was a little concerned as some of the people who came expected a thumping dance event. That was a bummer but understandable since nothing like this had been attempted at the festival before. I just stayed on track with mission of the night. Halfway through the event the noise video began and complete silence fell over the entire crowd. It was an incredible experience. Think about it, you are at a festival of about 28,000 people and it was so quiet that you could hear a pin drop in the dance barn. It was at that point I knew people were getting it.

Taking part in Communion was beautiful. It was great spending time with God and breaking bread with our brothers and sisters in the dance community. As I reflected on the journey that led me to this place, I found myself caught up in the moment. I had to hold back the tears as I new I was in the presence of the Lord.

I remember Jamin prophetically singing Lord Your Beautiful seconds before I dropped in the next track that said, “beautiful, everyone is beautiful.” He had no idea what was coming next. God was truly in control of the evening. It was at this point that I started to pray for the DJ’s and Live PA’s and the dance community.

We closed the evening around 3:00 AM while worshiping in the presence of God by candlelight. This was amazing. When the music stopped people just sat in silence and stillness because they knew they had been in the presence of the Lord.

What the Crowd Experienced

The evening really seemed to have deeply affected many of the people in attendance. Because of this, I thought sharing some of the comments from others in the dance community on their experiences from the evening would be a good idea.

“I was a little confused at first when I came to the chill out experience. When many of the people showing up who were expecting banging dance music and swiftly departed it made me wonder should I even stay.

WOW! I was in for a BIG surprise. I didn’t know that God would use that event to target me. When I approached the first station I realized that I had a big barrier – DOUBT!

That evening opened my eyes to a reality I hadn’t seen. I seem to not trust God as much as I thought I did. I held back my tears as I saw others post what was holding them back in their life – the sin and missing the mark. I viewed people posting everything from fear to lust.” — DJ Pat D

“I found the silence portion very convicting. Being a parent of three and seemingly always needing music on to accomplish tasks around the house.  I find myself not listening for God’s voice in the midst of all that is hectic. What God spoke through Race with was so dead on about our situation in the body of believers in Christian Dance. Race did not even say a lot but it was exactly what I (as I am sure many) needed to hear that night.

The Worship night was very well done and the Holy Spirit was certainly there!

Our community of believers and the Body of Christ at large is hugely gifted and it is great to see our colorful expression through worship, art, and music.

I was very impressed!   He gave us his best and we should try to do our best to return the favor!” — Brian Scroggins

“The silence time was the highlight for me. It was like being at an Electronic Jason Upton worship event.” — DJ Davo

“One thing that was cool from a Tastyfresh point of view was how we were trying to get the Tastyfresh people who were spinning or were involved with the dance community in some way to each bring a loaf out to build the bread man for [Communion].  The point was that we are each different; that we each bring different things to the table – but together we form the body of Christ… I started putting the body together.  That’s when I think the meaning of it really began to hit this group of ragamuffins.  We may bicker about silly things online, but we all saw how united we really are that night.  It was quite awesome, and I sensed God moving big-time – not just for Tastyfresh, but for everyone in the room. “ — Hypostatic (Victor Minetola)

“As the night grew I began to fall back behind more of the visual equipment, attempting to play images that corresponded with the song that was playing at the moment. John asked me to cue up one of the more moving moments of the night on DVD: The Silence Video. Not expecting to really be hit by it myself, I read the words that appeared on the screen in close to absolute silence. Being a very impatient person with silence, I began to realize how much God can speak through it. When it was over another personal miracle happened. Our band had been playing just before Cornerstone for a Vacation Bible School and on the day that I left, I lost my singing voice. And it remained that way until I grabbed the mic and broke out into spontaneous worship to God. God also amazed John and me when at the end of one of the songs I began singing about God’s beauty and the next song unexpectedly was about being beautiful.”— DJ Jamin (Jamin Bradley)

Making It Happen
Lots of preparation had to be done to pull off an event as unique as this one. I spent about two months getting ready in various ways. I had led a Re:fresh Worship night at Relevant Church with Jamin and some other leaders in my church where we tried out some of the elements that were used in the worship night at Cornerstone.

Half of the night was spent testing out video, music and creative worship elements on the congregation. For me personally, compiling music and designing accompanying slides was the most time consuming portion of my preparation. Many hours were spent choosing music that would set the right tone for the evening. By the time all the music was transferred onto CD, there was approximately four hours of music. Backed with a few hours of music, I was equipped to spin in any direction I felt the spirit leading me.

Searching, purchasing and compiling essential video elements took an enormous amount of time and energy. Bringing all these clips together and putting them on DVD made a huge difference. Mixing video and music live is a precise art. It can be very difficult and nearly impossible to pull off if you are not prepared. Props are key element in developing a mindset for the direction you wish to draw your audience into. A metal cross on a spinning turntable was chosen as such an element. The cross was backlit by a white radial pin spot. Candlelight was another element I incorporated into the event. The stage was draped floor to ceiling in thick black cloth and flickering tea lights lined the stage. Just entering the sanctuary you knew something special was about to take place.

I would have to say that spending time in prayer and have time alone with God is the most important step in preparing for such an event. Having that time alone with God can really put into perspective the purpose and the need for this type of worship.

Overcoming Challenges
One of the biggest challenges was finding the last minute items we needed and the making of the cross for the station. Much of this had to be done at the event site rather than in advance for a variety of reasons. The people involved with the night worked together as a team coming together to make it work. The tasks were more than one person could do on their own due to the time frame. We just persevered until everything was done. Even though some people didn’t understanding what was going on, I prayed and persevered. I had to continue on the path I felt the Lord was leading me on.

What made it a success?
Four things made this a success:

The Holy Spirit
When God shows up it can be nothing but a success.

The Communion Time
I felt God lay on my heart that this was important in the life of the community. Seeing the body of Christ come together and then break bread together was beautiful. It was an experience I will never forget. I felt a since of unity in Christ that night.

Teamwork
People worked together to help get the final details done.

Seeing people experience God for themselves.

In closing I would like to thank Chris Human, Cindy Tucker and Cornerstone for the opportunity to have a service like this. I could since God’s presence throughout the process. I was great to be part of God’s work. We must continue as a community to seek God and spend time with him.