Random Thoughts: Video Messages, Ethnic Messages and Marvin Gaye

8 11 2012

So the problem with going to a school like Fuller is that I’m literally being challenged with so many new ideas every single day that it’s hard to keep up and blog about them because I just don’t have time amidst all the papers and reading that I have to do each week. Which leaves me with a dilemma because not only do I want to write about my experiences with you all, but I want to engage in dialogue. So…that means I’m probably going to start posting a lot more “Random Thoughts” posts, because it’s a lot easier for me to just type my thoughts as a stream of consciousness, rather than trying to come up with full thesis arguments complete with cool, catchy titles. Besides, I do enough of that in school. I think I’m even going to go so far as to create a new category for Random Thoughts, so if you ever want to read some of my old Random Thought, you can now find them in one place. So here you go. My random thoughts for today, well actually they’re more like things I’ve been thinking about the past few days…At any rate, you’re welcome! 🙂

  • This past weekend Fuller hosted a conference called “Preaching in a Visual Age.” It was all about how to approach preaching within a generation that finds value and meaning in technology as well as moving images. It was a great conference for me as a filmmaker, but I’m not sure what preachers or anyone who is not an artist got out of it. Hopefully they picked up some valuable nuggets to help them lead their flocks. After attending that conference, if I could share one thing with pastors everywhere it is this: We don’t need your Powerpoints! What I mean by that is that Powerpoint presentations are not what makes you “relevant” or “cool” and neither is showing a movie clip. What people need is the life-giving message of God’s love. If Powerpoint or movie clips help you do that then fine. But if you’re just doing it to say that you’re hip, I’d rather you just stand there and preach. I would also like to tell pastors that there are people around you in your congregations who are creative artists who can help you plan services with intentionality and to help make sure that if you are going to use media as part of your preaching, you do it well and not insulting to your congregation and to artists everywhere. You don’t have to do this alone. These artists are just as passionate about their art as they are about their faith, and they can help you see things from a different light if you’re willing to give up a little control.
  • A dream came true for me this morning at chapel in the sense that I was finally able to sing the song “Lord You Are Good” with a truly diverse crowd. Every since I was introduced to that song way back in my Abundant Life days, I’ve looked forward to the day when we could sing the words “People from every nation and tongue, from generation to generation, We Worship You!” as a reality. I looked around the room and saw my brothers and sisters from Liberia, Korea, India, black, white, old, young (at least in a seminary context anyway) worshipping together. It was a sight to see. My prayer is that that diversity as well as understanding would continue to grow here. Dr. Soong Chan Rah, author of “The New Evangelicalism” gave the sermon. It was a very painfully truthful challenge about what it really means to be a multi-ethnic church. Many times in our efforts to build multi-ethnic churches, we have diverse faces in the crowd but still end up with mono-ethnic churches because the dominant culture is still dictating what worship should look like. It’s something to think about, especially here in America where every congregation thinks that their way of doing church is the “right” way.
  • Tonight we had the Missiology Lectures, also led by Dr. Rah. My biggest question after the lecture is: Where is the black church within the conversation of being missional? I have been to two conferences within the past month about the missional church here in California, and have been to several conferences and groups that talked about it on the East Coast and there are never any black pastors on the panel. Out of all the missional churches I could name, I can only name one that has a black pastor. So my question is, are we absent from the conversation because we want to be, because we have our own community that we’re serving in our black context and therefore don’t wish to engage? Or are we absent from the conversation because we’re oblivious that these conversations are even going on? Or, have we (intentionally or non-intentionally) been excluded from the conversation? I know some of my brothers and sisters in the black church would say we’ve been missional for years, before it became a “thing”. But I would argue, in today’s culture which is becoming less and less homogenized, are we really being missional if our churches don’t reflect the diversity that we encounter on a daily basis? The church at large needs our voices too! Just some of my thoughts…I have my own reasons for asking this which I can get into in the comments section or one-on-one if anyone is interested in engaging.
  • In my Worship, Theology and Arts class we’re reading about Marvin Gaye and the making of What’s Going On? (Um yeah, can I just say I love my seminary. Where else will I get to read Michael Eric Dyson, a biography on Marvin Gaye, and the Calvin Institutes all as part of class readings?) Anyways, we’re looking at the theological implications of this ground-breaking album and I must say, I am amazed at all that went into the making of this album. I’ve always loved Marvin Gaye as an artist. But now I have even more respect for him for the risks he took to get that album made, and his dedication to creating something that would send a strong message to a world that was crumbling.

No wonder that song and that album still resonate today…

Also, I promise, future Random Thoughts will not be this lengthy…:-)




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