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agentsoffuture

NEW WORSHIP? (no groaning)

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i have had the amazing opportunity to be a part of a distinctly different type of christian community, much like this discussion board is..

it seems most of the stories of our members contain MAJOR hurt inflicted by well-meaning "believers", and we are attempting to piece together hope with artistic aids.

we recently hosted a experimental "conference", where we wrote songs spontaneously, cracked open toys and bend their circuits to gloriously noisy effect, and learned to dance in ways they conveyed our fears and frustrations...

the result was a day of revelations, revivals and re-working of expectations.

our community lacks pomp, but there is much circumstance.

what has happened in your respective communities that has moved you?

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I wish I was involved with something like that...

sounds very rare...

p.s. I'm from toronto ontario...

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I want to come back to this when I have more time - hi by the way AoF. Interesting post!

Matt

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What Matt says. More details on this great sort of retreat you all had....

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i have had the amazing opportunity to be a part of a distinctly different type of christian community, much like this discussion board is..

it seems most of the stories of our members contain MAJOR hurt inflicted by well-meaning "believers", and we are attempting to piece together hope with artistic aids.

we recently hosted a experimental "conference", where we wrote songs spontaneously, cracked open toys and bend their circuits to gloriously noisy effect, and learned to dance in ways they conveyed our fears and frustrations...

the result was a day of revelations, revivals and re-working of expectations.

our community lacks pomp, but there is much circumstance.

what has happened in your respective communities that has moved you?

I'm glad to hear this is happening in your community. It sounds wonderfully refreshing.

I see some similar things going on in my small church community in Columbus, Ohio. Columbus, Ohio isn't exactly a hotbed of cultural activity, but there's a large university here, and several smaller colleges, and there's sufficient critical mass to speak of an "arts community." A number of those folks have found their way to our church, where the arts are valued very highly. We have several professional musicians, and a fairly large contingent of folks who play in local bands on the weekends while working daytime jobs during the week. We have some amazingly talented visual artists. We have poets who host poetry slams at local bars.

What I've seen is that art has enabled us to build a bridge to connect with non-Christians. I would estimate that 30% - 40% of the folks who attend our church would not identify themselves as Christians. They're listening. They're dialoguing. Some of them are just looking for ways to find fault with the hypocritical Christians. And given the broken people we are, they probably won't have to look too hard. But I hope, and I believe, that they're also finding Christians who are appreciative of what they do; who want to support creativity and artistic excellence in whatever ideological package in which it is presented, who show up at their concerts and their gallery openings, and who simply want to love and serve other people.

One of the guys in our church owns one of the better-known local concert venues. There's a woman in one of the local punk bands who has breast cancer. I have no idea what she believes, other than that she believes she may be dying, and that she has no medical insurance, and that she's scared. So Dan opened up his venue, invited a bunch of local bands and folks from our church to play music, and everybody had a good time, and raised a bunch of money for her medical bills. I see the Kingdom of God all over this, and I'm honored to be a part of it.

I also see a huge amount of brokenness and dysfunction -- addictions, eating disorders, cutting, mental illness, barely concealed rage -- oftentimes accompanied by the romantic, self-destructive notion that to be an artist one must suffer. It's overwhelming at times. You mentioned the members of your church who have experienced major hurt inflicted by well-meaning believers. I see those folks, too, and people who have experienced major hurt because of neglect, or abuse, or just plain stupid choices. Our church is a hospital, and every week I see incoming wounded. But there is an atmosphere where people can be open about such things, admit their hurts and failures, pray together, engage in the painful work of forgiveness and reconciliation and healing, move beyond the all-consuming Kingdom of Me. There are discouraging days when somebody chooses to head back onto the street rather than stick around and allow God to change them. But there are many good days, too. In sometimes small but significant ways, Humpty Dumpty is being put back together again. It's a good thing.

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Andy,

oh yeah.. the hospital.. emergency room..

one thing about a community of people like this is that all the policing of behavior has stopped. There are safety procedures in place for handling predatory stuff, but people are allowed to work out their shit. Medication takes obvious and not-so-obvious forms and our community values addressing the wound, not the form of medication. Everyone needs this. Not just artists. But i think it's incredibly important to have a concrete way to build connection and work it out, and art seems to have made this possible. People are given a safe place to tell their stories, and they are listened to and accepted. On sunday, one of our "congregants" told her expletive-peppered, gut-wrenching story and no one tried to fix her, in fact, one of our pastors said "the seven of you that feel like you have just the thing to say to fix Crystal, i beg you to resist saying anything to her. There is no place more lost-feeling than telling your story. She is the same person she was 10 minutes ago, right?" It was awe-inspiring. And the music yesterday was three singers (one who played guitar) and five or so djembe/conga/bongo players out amongst the people... one minute it was spirituals and one free-form line from one of the singers burst us all out in the crazy funk groove and back to acapella... all the while people are screaming and dancing and painting and sitting and crying. It's pretty much been going like this for 7 years.

Portland is over-the-top anti-christian but tolerant of christ. go figure. Wouldn't communities that felt connection and relation through art and action be of interest to "those who don't get it yet"? Yeah, the wonderful story of the benefit concert! Doesn't this sound more like what things were supposed to be about? Isn't that "true religion"? I don't know, but it sure makes me want to connect with God and his people more.

here's an article about our community:

http://www.portlandmercury.com/2003-12-18/feature.html

more later..

todd

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cool stories - will be here soon honestly!

Matt

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We recently had a group of people up to visit us from San Antonio. Many people that have connected with us over the years come with the desire to "gather concepts" and "glean models". Have you ever gleaned a model?

anyway... these Texans came and blew me away. Not only did they accept us, as fucked up as we are, but they fell in love with us and our stories. They wanted to hear more. They gave me a new appreciation for everyone in our community. As i was sharing about our community, i was remembering that i needed to express the love and respect i was sharing *with the person i was sharing about*. Too many times have I forgotten to look up from my "holy work" to tell someone that i love them and believe in them.

love live the Texans. If you want to look them up, they are here:

http://groups.myspace.com/pmverb

mucho m

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That article in the Mercury is about as impressive as the Sufjan Stevens review in the Seattle Weekly, at least in terms of fairness to Christianity. I lived in Eugene (OR) for a few years and never saw anything like that in the Mercury. I suppose that one might quibble and say that the article only admits the most tolerant side of Christ and his church, but it's a fantastic start.

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Here's a song we recently recorded for our community:

Perfect Love-

what perfect love is this

that jesus laid down his life for us

oh lord you did this for me

"this is my body, broken for you..

this is my blood, poured out for you.."

oh lord you did this for me

soon, i'm gonna see you

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Thank you, thank you, thank to the author for writing a modern "worship" song that isn't me-centric. I had to trudge through "I Can Only Imagine," et al. this morning.

That being said, my community of faith aspires to what your community of faith seems closer to. Some of us just still have a lot of "American Christian" culture baggage left - myself included, of course. All in all I am enjoying the journey with these guys and gals.

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last sunday in portland:

we did our whole service thing in a park on blankets, and we didn't know until we got there, but another church was doing their service at the same time.

potentially awkward circumstances fuel amazing things with our community for some reason, and we ended up doing the loudest acoustic gospel worship ever. the sound intertwined with their rendition of "what a mighty god we serve" ... crazy, just crazy.

the speaker that day was Geoff and he was saying stuff and listening to the other preacher and working off him.. it was all very glorious.

todd

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Rich and whoever else that wants to see it..

we got a couple of .avi's from the experimental workshop..

the first one is from our percussion class.. we didn't anticipate the number of attendees, so we grabbed tools and supplies from other rooms of the place we held the conference and used *them* as instruments. Hence, the broom and ice cube trays and handtrucks and such..

let me know if anyone wants to see more..

todd

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By the way, folks, I've known agentsoffuture since he was a wee infant. We've grown up together, and I'm just in awe of what he's accomplished in Portland. He's one of my greatest inspirations.

Glad you've signed on, you sunnuva....

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we got a couple of .avi's from the experimental workshop..

the first one is from our percussion class..

Some problems with the link there...

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I've been meaning to post on here for ages, but have neer quite done....

My church is primarily 18-35s. (I used to say it was primarily 18-35s until my last birthday), mainly focussing on students (which is what it has grown out of), but as many, such as myself, have stayed around and invested into the community we're now about 50-50 students - graduates.

Worship wise we'er a bit of a mix. As a general church value we've always claimed to be experiemtnal, risk taking, culturally relevant and stuff. This gets harder as both oour demographic and the diversity of the culture varies. So we have4 a mix, with some of the moe typical worship band type stuff, some from bands that are proper giging bands in their own right who turn their hand to worship cos they also have a heart for it (and frankly their darn good), and the creative angle, which is what my wife brings and I'd like to talk more about.

I was (finally) prompted to post by the perceussion thread, a it reminded me of something we did.

Once or twice a term Mel (said wife) does a creative worship slot, which may take the form of a meditation, or creative interaction, or open mic worship (which hasn't really been a huge success), or worship zones. Wja we've done herwe is split into 5-6 groups and worshipped in different ways, so therre have been art ones, percussion ones, film ones, meditiaion, acting on injustice etc., Generally they've worked b[retty well.

The other main two things that Mel's creative team do, is room decor (I should really insert a cool photo here but alas I don't have one), and creative / interactive responses to the talks.

Hmm that's very brief. Suffice to say there's a big art department in Loughborough, and there were some influential artists around when we first set up, and so it's always been a factor in what we do, and that tends to mean that we get a good share of the Christian artists that come to study here.

Personally I'd like to see more of it, but there are tensions all over the place (including Mel's capacity) that have to be taken into consideration.

There's stuff on the website in the 'teams' section that explains more about stuff, although I haven't checked it for ages so it's probably all out of date.

Matt

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another song we wrote for our community is this one:

"Stay Awake"

You stay awake and listen for the cries of the poor.

You look at me and don't shy away from what You see.

and when i plead with you to comfort me,

that's when you rearrange reality

so that i can bend the light i see

and you still remain the constant voice of peace.

todd

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Matt,

wow.. open heavens sounds like a place i'd love to visit. i had trouble getting some of the links to work, where exactly is it? My wife and I visited London a while back and visited a couple community that were integrating art into their services/ministries rather seamlessly.. one was The Bear, and i think one was Revelation, maybe... do you know of other communities that are "kindred spirits"?

todd

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Yeah some of the links might be members only (did you get a log in thing?). If not then let me know what wasn't working so I can fix it up.

Loughborough is just south of Nottingham, or if you read your maps by film landmarks, its the place where 50% of station scenes are filmed in movies set in Britain in the steam train era.

I've heard of both The Bear and Revelation. The Bear we don't have that much contact with, but Revelation is sort of our Big Brother, in fact if you read this page it'll tell you that Roger Ellis who leads Revelation gave the original team a prohecy that kind of kicked the whole thing off. Actually he was passing on a word someone had given to him that he was about to meet a group of people who were going to plant a church similar to his.

There are a lot of differences between the two churches, but we're still in close contact with them. One of our church leaders works with him with Fusion - a major student initiative etc.

Matt

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another song of ours, "I've Tasted You"..

the best part is that i'll never have to kick the thick veil away again, never again

and i'm not brave, but you taught me, you taught me how NOT to be a slave ever again

and genuine change is not so strange, and genuine love is not too late

because i've tasted you, oh my God, and i see that you are good

You are good

You are good to me

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anyone else have anything amazing in worship happen in their communities?

hmmmm?

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I tell you after Greenbelt - currently the diversest range of worship expressions assembled in one easy place. one of the highlights of the last 2 years.

Matt

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here's a new song, click here..

Drawn Breath

by angie and todd fadel

"where is my hope?

where is my joy?

where is my peace?

it's the sound of the crying

it's the sound of the dying

it's the sound of the fighting you hear

it's the sight of the hurt

and the sight of the deserted

with your drawn breath

you draw us near"

Edited by agentsoffuture

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Here's another new song:

TORN APART AT THE SEAMS, I KNOW JUST WHAT THAT MEANS

ALL THAT'S CAUGHT IN BETWEEN COMES BACK TO HAUNT ME

IF ONLY I COULD SEE

TORN APART AT THE SEAMS, YOU KNOW JUST WHAT THAT MEANS

THIS CONSTANT FIGHT TO BELIEVE

LEAVES ME PRETENDING TO BE FREE

I BREAK OUT OF IT WHEN I SEE

THE SAME POWER THAT FLOWS THROUGH YOU

WASHES OVER ME

.....

we just moved into a new building today and i was pretty apprehensive about the whole thing. We moved in a neighborhood that caters to those that typically judge before they understand things they're unfamiliar with.. so, yeah.. we basically just decided to scream our guts out like usual..

todd

PS. How are people doing?

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I know, i know. I need to stop posting to this, cause no one's interested anymore.. but i can't help it.

if you go here,

you'll hear a new (unmixed) BRIDGE FAVORITE.. it's a doozy.

YOU CAN CHANGE MY MIND

by angie and todd

EVEN WHEN ITS LIKE A SEVERED ANTENNA

A LOOSE CONNECTION

THIS WON'T FIT ANY DICTIONARY

TEXTBOOK DEFINITION

CAUSE WHAT I FIND IN YOU CAN'T BE DEFINED

WHAT I FIND IN YOU CAN'T BE DEFINED

YOU CAN CHANGE MY MIND

YOU CAN CHANGE MY MIND

SOMETHING SOMETHING TELLS ME

I'M GONNA LET YOU GET TO ME

let me know where i can find anyone else writing interesting music for communities of desperate faith..

toddfadel

thebridge

portland

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