Monday, April 28, 2008

Community Worship Survey Results

About a week-and-a-half ago the worship and programming leadership conducted a survey among a diverse sampling of people in our church regarding the Worship Services at Parkview. This survey included questions regarding every area of our worship service as well as information regarding our Family Ministry venue Family Connection. If you would like to see the general results of that survey, you can view them at this link.

Over all, the general results of the survey were affirming that we are doing a good job in many categories within our services. Perhaps more telling were the comments in the areas that need some refining. As always, when people have the opportunity to share anonymously they can at times be a bit uncharitable in their commentary. Despite this reality, we were able to see trends in everything from preaching to music to communication that will be very helpful as we develop strategic ministry plans for the upcoming school year. If you’re observant, you’ll likely notice some of those changes in the near future.

This survey was strategic in that it generated some good conversation among leaders within the church that will help guide us in many future decisions. In this regard, I am very optimistic that we’ve got an excellent opportunity to blaze some new trails in our upcoming ministry season.

To clarify one thing, I know that some may be inclined to critique the wisdom behind surveying a congregation regarding their preferences. Some may ask, if Jesus told us that if we followed him we would be persecuted, then wouldn’t we be most pleased with results that were critical of our practices? To this my answer is yes and no. If we are criticized for our commitment to worshiping in spirit and truth and doing all we can to share the gospel with the lost world around us, then by all means we should applaud critical feedback. On the other hand, if we are criticized for our inability to engage people in their cultural context, then we should view both criticism and affirmation as resources to help us grow and change. The last thing Parkview’s leadership wants to do is make everyone as “comfortable as possible”. In the same regard we do want to do all we can to participate with God in lighting a fire that ignites a movement of the gospel in people living missionally in Iowa City and around the world.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Yesterday’s Hymns For Today’s Church

This weekend in services I will be highlighting some of the hymn resources available for those who would love to take advantage of the organizations and musical groups working hard to revive old hymn texts by setting them to music relevant to new generations. One of the exciting things about this movement is that it is spearheaded by younger generations longing for connection with a faith that is rich in doctrine and deep in heritage. Though this list of resources is far from exhaustive, the following links will provide some places you can go to tap into this network of music. If anyone has additional links to provide, please consider leaving your link as a comments.


Indelible Grace features numerous CD’s and music books. The Indelible Grace CD’s are compilation CD’s from numerous artists. You can also get CD’s here from artists such as Matthew Smith, Sandra McCracken, and Brian Moss. If you follow the links to the music store, you can actually preview the songs under each CD link.


Red Mountain Music is a ministry out of Red Mountain Church in Birmingham, Alabama. They presently have five CD’s available for purchase and their music is very similar in style to the Indelible Grace music. By clicking on albums you can go into each individual album and listen to audio samples.


Kingsway Music just came out with this new CD called “Love Divine” which is a remake of hymns by Charles Wesley. The new hymn we’re singing called at Parkview called “Jesus, The Name High Over All” came from this project. It is not available on Itunes, so you’re restricted to getting this one via snail mail. Just so you’re aware, outside of “Jesus, The Name High Over All” this CD has other good songs, but the arrangements are not as strong for congregational singing.


This disk has been around a while, but is part of the Passion organization, which is a movement intent upon glorifying God by uniting students in worship and prayer for spiritual awakening in this generation. The hymn CD can be found at SixStepsRecords or downloaded on Itunes. SixSteps features a lot of other great music for younger generations.


Soujurn Music is part of the ministry at Sojourn Community Church in Louisville, Kenucky. According to Greg Mazunik, our 24-7 worship director, the “Before the Throne” CD is killer good.


Park Slope Church is a church in Brooklyn, NY that has put out this project called Kingsborough Hymns accompanied by those who regularly accompany their congregation in music.

I’ll add more links as I find or hear about them.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Community Worship Survey

As of Friday afternoon we've had over 360 take an online survey that was sent out via email primarily in regard to our weekend worship services at Parkview. This is the first time Parkview has taken an online survey and I must say it's been quite the experience. Though I know web surveys exclude a certain population, I found it interesting that those who have taken the survey are representing Parkview's age demographic and service attendance almost perfectly. If you haven't taken the survey, do so quickly because we will be shutting it down in the next few days.

I will be sharing some of the general results in the future. Some of the information has been very encouraging and some of it has identified areas we need to work on. Though this was a needed and important survey for us, it was really a precursor/test-run for a "spiritual health" survey we are hoping to take church-wide during the Fall semester. More on that later....

For those of you who work in businesses or churches who would benefit from online surveys. I highly recommend Survey Monkey. It is a powerful service with easy to build professional looking surveys that provide "to the second" analysis as the results come in.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Between Two Worlds: The Cultural Chasm

For a seminary course I am taking, I am reading a book on Biblical Interpretation called “Let the Reader Understand”. In the section I read today the authors discussed an idea called “distanciation” coined by P. Ricoeur. The idea, when applied to Biblical interpretation, refers to the chasm that is created between our time and the time of the Bible. This chasm is caused by our cultural assumptions and forsakes the fact that the first audience (from Biblical times) was not like me at all. Here’s a quote…
We should note that not only is a knowledge of the original culture important, but also a knowledge of our own culture. If we are unaware of our own culture, we will be unequipped to evaluate in what way our cultural conditioning is influencing our reading of the text. And if we wish to apply the meaning of the text to a present situation, we had better understand how our present culture works. (p. 148-149)
The reason I appreciate this understanding is that in my years of church experience, conferences and reading I have been exposed to ministry models that are very culturally savvy, putting great amounts of energy into understanding contemporary culture but little work into carefully interpreting scripture. I have also experienced ministries that are extremely rigorous in their study and interpretation of scripture, but are miles away from having relevant engagement with the present culture. Both models are subject to “distanciation” because they neglect one aspect of cultural understanding at the cost of the other. In most of those cases, they are even adamant in their rejection of the other cultural perspective because, in their mind, embracing the opposite cultural context violates their convictions.

My dream is for churches to take more seriously the need to combine the rigors of good Biblical interpretation with a passion for understanding the present culture and contextualizing the gospel for that culture. There are many churches doing a pretty good job, but countless more, large and small, whose convictions (and presuppositions) are keeping them from God’s mission to reach our present culture with the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Whose Glory Do We Make Music For?

I love Bob Kauflin's heart in this little devotional clip. Good stuff. Who do you play your music for? Is it for the glory of Jesus or for your own? How do we discern if we are doing it for the Lord or ourselves? Are you more concerned about your audience encountering God or about them affirming your abilities?

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Prosperity Gospel

My friend Chad just sent this to me. On this video you'll hear some strong language from John Piper in regard to the prosperity gospel. I know not everyone is a fan of John Piper, but the message of this video rightly resonates with disdain for those who are selling so many around the world this false gospel.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Static Mode

Static: Lacking in movement, action or change.

This defines my blog in recent months. Admittedly, it has been an exceptionally crazy season with numerous changes in the church, which include my job description change to "Pastor of Programming and Operations". In this new job I will still be involved in programming (arts and technical) but also carry oversight in church communication and staffing operations. Of course, my gradual change will necessitate other staffing shifts to compensate. Those details are still being worked out at this time.

Over the last few months I thought about shutting down the blog entirely but now that I can see some light at the end of the tunnel, I have decided I may take the opportunity to blog some throughout the summer.

As always, my blogging has been more of a personal journal of sorts. This means that posting frequency will alway come and go based upon the load I am carrying. I know this is not a way to build a following, but that was never the intent of my blog so I am not overly concerned.

Anyhow, this post's primary purpose is to let those of you who check intermittently that I believe I will pick-up posting in greater frequency as the summer approaches. For now, I am just hopeful we can hit 70 degrees at least once this April. One miracle at a time I guess!