Monthly Archives: May 2012

Here’s a Shocker! 750 hours

Ever wonder why Christian youth can’t seem to make faith-based decisions, or are perplexed as to whether or not the voice of God is really talking to them?

In posting several previous articles dealing with the disappearance of the 18-29 year-old set from church, we’ve examined features of this phenomenon, the why’s and the myths. Digging a little deeper there may be more going on. I came across a blog post citing the number 750. I was shocked by the implications of the 750.[img_assist|nid=161251|title=.|desc=|link=none|align=left|width=350|height=121]
Writing in his Houston Chronicle blog, The Peace Pastor: Pursuing Peace through Faith, the Rev. Marty Troyer writes in an article titled, How can you tell if that voice in your head is Gods? “According to Alan Kreider, (‘Forming Christian Habits in Post-Christendom’ – page 104) a highly committed Christian youth may have logged 750 hours of Christian formation by the time they are 18 years of age. This, in contrast to the 11,000 hours spent being formed in a school setting, and another 15,000 hours watching TV. Today’s youth are exposed to other media between 10,000-30,000 additional hours. Which do you suppose is stronger: 750 hours, or 56,000?”

“In his theological work Andy Brubacher Kaethler (chapter in ‘Forming Christian Habits in Post-Christendom’ – page 111) answers pointedly, “In truth, we are disciples of Western culture first, and disciples of Jesus only to the degree that following Jesus does not require us to question basic Western cultural values.” This means hearing that “still small voice of God” will prove ever harder for western Christians like me.”[img_assist|nid=161259|title=Forming Christian Habits in Post-Christendom|desc=|link=none|align=left|width=333|height=490]

Troyer supplies some strategies (read his blog post by clicking on the hyperlink above) for discerning whether or not it is the voice of God talking to you and concludes by affirming, “We can hear the voice of God in the cacophony of noise that is the modern world. Perhaps the better question remains: do you want to?

In a concluding article in this series we’ll examine six strategies people of faith can employ to address dilemma of young adults deserting faith.

Foodstock IV: An Under-Attended Anchorage Treat!

Almost Missed This One
Pastor Dan Bollerud invited me to attend their Foodstock IV: The Greening folk concert fundraiser at his church, Christ Our Savior Lutheran Church (COSLC), on May 11. Without this invitation I’d have had no awareness of this concert.

Somehow word of it was missing from the media that keeps me and others informed of Anchorage events like this. [img_assist|nid=161178|title=Pastor Dan Bollerud Explaining Foodstock|desc=|link=none|align=left|width=242|height=490]

What a treat I’d have missed if Pastor Bollerud had not invited me. This illustrates the “Power of One” principle I sometimes refer to in these posts. It only takes one, but I wonder why COSLC’s parishioners seemed to be silent on this great event? I saw few, if any, of them at this one so…? Nonetheless this concert had the feeling of January’s Anchorage Folk Festival. (See poster pdf at bottom of page)

What’s Foodstock?
The purpose of Foodstock IV, and all local Foodstock quarterly concerts at COSLC, is to raise funds and provide food donations for the Lutheran Social Services Agency (LSSA). LSSA provides weekly food distribution to the needy in concert with our local food bank. Area folk performers donate their time and talent to provide a program of merit. Foodstock IV lasted about two hours and featured five performers or groups. Pastor Dan Bollerud shared that about 250 lbs. of food and $350 cash were contributed that night. Although no admission was charged, they suggested a food or cash donation in lieu of. The concert was also live-streamed over the Internet by COSLC. In the future I’ll be “tweeting” my friends to invite them to at least listen to the live stream.

Performers Featured
The performers played and sang folk and spiritual music in a listenable, comfortable, and toe tapping fashion. The two-hour timeframe for the concert was just right, especially considering there were no refreshments to break the long sitting time with minor breaks between performers. A wide variety of talented local performers contributing their talents included:

• Tony Elder
• Melissa Beck
• Mary Oudean
• Paddle Boat Jam
• Just Old Hims
• Robin Hopper

Although all performances were excellent, I particularly enjoyed Mary Odean’s and Robin Hopper’s individual performances. I was especially taken with Robin’s rendering of an acapella number, If I Were A Firefly, she’d recently written. She prefaced the song with a playful and loving tribute to her husband Bruce. The lyrics are below.

Robin Hopper 2012

If I were a firefly, tell you what I’d do
If I were a firefly, I’d shine for you
That’s what I’d do – I’d shine just for you.

If I could, I surely would
Dance around your face.
I’d shake and shimmy like a girl
Until you gave me chase
That’s what I’d do, I’d dance just for you.

I’d flit and flitter, pirouette;
I’d paint the evening sky.
A trail of light, a silhouette
Designed to catch your eye.
That’s what I’d do, I’d dance just for you
Well, I am not a firefly, but you can make me shine.
I’ll never be a firefly, but I dance real fine.
It’s what I do – and it’s all just for you,
It’s all just for you.[img_assist|nid=161173|title=Robin Hopper Singing (check out the feet)|desc=|link=none|align=left|width=314|height=490]

Good Church Use
Too many churches everywhere sit vacant except for a few active usage hours weekly. What a treat to see a church being occupied to share listenable music, fellowship, and offering an opportunity help out with a worth social cause in line with Biblical commands. This is religion at its best. I suspect the low turnout had something to do the Anchorage sectarian penchant for churches not sharing information about events in other churches. It may be the “not invented here, not going to support it there” attitude I’ve witnessed over and over again. Or it may be with declining attendance all over Anchorage, Pastors are scared to death to risk one of their members showing up at another church than their own. Pastors should be thrilled anyone would want to attend church, regardless of whose church it is.

Congratulations to local folk performers supporting Foodstock IV, Christ Our Savior Lutheran Church, and Lutheran Social Services for putting on a class event. I can’t wait until the next one, which Pastor Bollerud suggests will be in the September/October timeframe. I learning to expect the unexpected from this South Anchorage church. Next time, I’ll use the Church Visits blog to get the word out on Foodstock V.[img_assist|nid=161174|title=Mary Oudean Performing|desc=|link=none|align=left|width=280|height=490]

[img_assist|nid=161175|title=Melissa Beck|desc=|link=none|align=left|width=303|height=490]

[img_assist|nid=161177|title=Tony Elder|desc=|link=none|align=left|width=350|height=396]

[img_assist|nid=161176|title=Just Old Hims|desc=|link=none|align=left|width=350|height=175]

10 Anchorage Churches With Great Music

Recently I posted my comments on loud music in churches. I’ve received a number of responses, personally, and comments in the blog regarding those thoughts. So far, these responses support less rowdy, more reverent music, with reduced emphasis and attention upon the worship leader and/or performers.

Now, I am not tied to organs, pianos, and hymns for my worship music. Rather, I believe the context of the service is more important. However, some Anchorage churches have thrown out many forms of theologically sound Christian music, in favor of theologically weak rock-oriented Contemporary Christian Pablum. I believe worship leaders should be hired not only for their musical training, but also by their understanding of theology. That view is also supported by Bob Kauflin, a well-known worship leader and composer.

Bob also states “There’s no question that the role of the worship leader has been exaggerated in recent decades. Some pastors give 1/3 to 1/2 of their meeting to singing, led by a musician who has little to no theological training. Gordon MacDonald comments, “For many young people choosing a church, worship leaders have become a more important factor than preachers. Mediocre preaching may be tolerated, but an inept worship leader can sink things fast.” (Gordon MacDonald, To Find a Worship Leader, Leadership Journal, Spring 2002) In addition, the rise of “worship artists” has intensified the often unhelpful connection between pop music culture and congregational worship.” Click HERE for entire article “What Does a Worship Leader Do? Pt. 1”

Recently I was asked for a list of the top ten music churches in Anchorage. This is really difficult as the styles of music differ due to neighborhood demographics and denominational leanings. However, I submit here an initial list of churches with great musical styles, rock solid theology, definitely not music as entertainment as is so popular in many churches.

Community Covenant Church – Eagle River
Well balanced and listenable traditional/contemporary instrumental group.

Cornerstone Church
More contemporary, sometimes a bit loud, but quite an inspiring, and listenable group.

St. John United Methodist Church
Wonderful choir in several morning services, and contemporary folk in the evening.

Amazing Grace Lutheran
Excellent choir at 8:15 & 9:45 services only.

New Grace Christian Church
Contemporary singing and instrumental group.

St. Mary’s Episcopal
Folk music ensemble at 11:30 a.m. service is a joy to experience.

Great Land Christian
Awesome acapella led music by inspired musicians.

St. John Orthodox – Chugiak
Choir and instrumentalists during service. Heavenly!

Hillcrest Nazarene
Great sounding contemporary group of instrumentalists and singers.

Anchorage Moravian – 6:30 p.m.
The praise singing by individuals and the Moravian Choir is one of the closest ways to experience spirituality in music in Anchorage.

I will add to this list, but these churches understand the spiritual power of well-performed, theologically-sound Christian music. If you have other favorites to add to this list, please let me know.