My pastor said this in a sermon a while back. He was referring to coming to Christ for the first time, but I heard it differently. It stuck. It’s been rolling around in my head for months now. If I could “believe now,” then I could make a Godly choice in every moment. You see, my failures and bad decisions are usually based upon some sort of unbelief.
I don’t believe He will provide for us, so I choose to worry about our financial situation.
I don’t believe that my body is a “temple for the Holy Spirit” (I Cor 6:19-20) or that God really cares about my health. I tell myself, “It’s not that big of a deal”, so I eat more than I should.
I don’t really believe sin kills, so I speak rudely to my family and my wife.
I could go on and on. . . . but you get the point. If I could “Believe Now!” I’d probably make better choices. I’d probably represent Jesus better and become more like Him. If I could “believe now,” I’d probably say “Yes” to different things and I’d be involved in new things. I’d probably say “No” to some other things as well.
Prayer:LORD, help me to “Believe now.” Keep this phrase in my mind. Train me to remember it in the moments that I struggle. Guide my heart to believe constantly, moment by moment. LORD I believe, but I want to believe more often, more consistently. “LORD I believe. Help my unbelief!” – Mk 9:24 AMEN.
I never finished this, but it was an idea for a poem or song or something to give to my children. It expresses the things I plan to share with my kids when I take them to visit Meridian State Park someday. I’ll tell them the story of how I came to know Jesus. I’m so excited about that day! These words capture some of the emotions I feel as I think about telling them.
Anyway, maybe I’ll finish it someday, but I wanted to go ahead and post something so I wouldn’t lose it.
Come let me show you this place, this place full of grace.
Come let me show you the spring where we sat and listened to the quiet
And the outcropping where we waterbombed the bus.
Let’s go walk the carpet of bluebonnets
and run past the bees on the trail of Mesquite
As a child I ran these trails and stepped on a snake
These vines scratched my legs but helped heal me too.
We played frisbee golf and waterballoon volleyball
Chased Bulldog to soak him
James Garner taught us the Scriptures under the tree.
Ross Senter spoke around the campfire.
Let me show you the grace in this place.
Come watch the horizon swallow the sun
Breathe in the lights. See the milky way run
From up on the ledge and above the lake
Lets watch the sky. and see the stars come awake.
Come hear distant voices from the lake down below
Let’s sit and sing and wait – take it slow
If we’re lucky we’ll see a star fall from space
Here in this place – this place full of grace
And this is where I sat and sang and cried
Around the campfire On the night I gave my life to Christ.
This place is so dear. It’s a place I want you to know
Whether this place or that place, I want you to have your own place full of grace.
A request before my post: If Throne Together impacted you in some significant way, please post a comment below. I’d love to pass on some of your stories to the band. Now I’ll continue with my post.
I was at a wedding a little while back (Congrats Jon Eichler!) that made me start thinking about the band I used to play in – Throne Together. At the wedding Jon Godbold and I took a few pics in honor of the band – that’s probably what made me start remembering. Anyway, there’s no way to describe the impact that “Throne Together” had on me, so I figured I needed to write something to try to capture a part of it.
“Throne Together” was originally organized as the worship band for a Saturday Night service which Mike Mathews (Pastor @ TUMC) wanted to start. We got the band together and began practicing. Most of us had never played in a band before but we were having so much fun that we just kept working. Meanwhile the Saturday Night service start date kept getting pushed back so I talked Mike into letting us play one Sunday morning as a special event. Although it stirred up some trouble for him, Mike decided that he wanted us to begin playing every other Sunday morning and so we did.
When the service finally started we had grown into a full fledged band and adopted the name “Throne Together” from Jeremiah 3:17 “We come to the throne together for worship.” We rehearsed during the week, and played for the Saturday Night service as well as every other Sunday morning. It was during this time that the “Worship Wars” began at Tomball UMC. Although many loved the addition of the band to their traditional service, some church members weren’t too happy about it. Along with Mike Mathews, we became the target of much criticism. It was a tough time but it was also an incredible time. In spite of the critical people, we were also riding the waves of excitement among our supporters. The persecution only served to bind us together and solidify the sense of purpose we had in following the calling we felt to find new ways to express our own gratitude and relationship to God. Throne Together became a sort of family to one another. We took care of each other and supported each other. Our weekly rehearsals became a sort of small group. We studied all kinds of books (usually about worship) and together, we all grew closer to God. We hung out together outside of church. We were friends. (and still are)
We tried to find places to play outside of church as much as possible. Each year we spent a full week playing for the Texas Conference NW District Camp for about 400 High School students. These times became important for us as they allowed for us to have extended practices and lots of shared time to hang out and simply grow together. There was also a young man named Charles Jones who would sit in with us on the piano. All he needed to know was the key we would play in and he’d just jam away. (Charles is now a professional musician living in LA. He was in the movie “Dreamgirls” and plays with John Mayer, Jonny Lang, Jennifer Hudson, etc.) Playing at “camp” also allowed us to bring a few extra people along. We always had someone to run sound/video (Evan Godbold, Zach McNair, Jon Eichler, Ryan Floro, Jarrod Ambrose) for us during our worship times. Many of these “extras” eventually became musicians themselves and ended up serving in other bands and ministries. We also played pretty regularly at “His Word” Christian Bookstore/Coffeehouse where our church members would come out to support us in great numbers. One of those nights a young man named “Todd Agnew” opened up for us. (He eventually went on to have quite a bit of success himself.) Another yearly gig we had was playing for the Susanna Wesley Day School Fall Festival. Those were great times ’cause we got to play outside and let our hair down a little bit. Things were very laid back and we could experiment a bit. One of our greatest compliments actually came from one of those gigs. One young boy told his mom that we weren’t really playing and it was a recording. Also by the way, we put together a group called the “Four Tune Hunters” to play for one of the first Fall Festivals which included Jon Godbold, myself, Terry Crump, and Kurt Narum. This may very well have been the beginning of Throne Together as it brought Jon and I together to collaborate.
We recorded two CDs during our time together. “Knock Just a Little” was released in 2000 and “The Return” in 2002. Although there were a few exceptions, Jon Godbold was our main songwriter. He would bring a song to the band and then we’d collaborate a bit to figure out song structure and add musical ideas to his foundation. The songs reflected many of the feelings and thoughts that we were experiencing together. Those were fun days. We recorded in a home studio with the leadership/production expertise of one of our great friends – Mike Briscoe. Kristy, his bride was also very gracious to allow us to invade her home so regularly during those times. Mike is an incredible musician himself. If you ever have an opportunity, check him out.
Original Members were:
Steve Corn – guitar, vocals
John Creed – bass
Buck Miller – drums
Eric Courville – electric guitar
Sarah Rampy – keys
Janice Stump – vocals
Leslie Morgan (Banatwala) – vocals
Shana Googer (Gumienny) – vocals
It wasn’t long before John Creed moved away and so Jon Godbold reluctantly joined the “church band” as our new bass player. Shana Googer, Janice Stump, and Sarah Rampy also moved away. We chose not to replace them, but eventually found Chip Leitschuh to play keys. These changes brought us to what would become the backbone of the group.
Steve Corn – guitar, vocals
Jon Godbold – bass, vocals
Buck Miller – drums
Eric Courville – electric guitar, vocals
Chip Leitschuh – keys
Leslie Morgan (Banatwala) – vocals, flute
Shana Googer (Gumienny) – vocals – always a part of the group when she was in town
Tragedy struck the band when Buck died of an accidental overdose with a bad combination of prescription drugs. Other than family, I was the first to arrive on the scene that night. Buck’s son, Dustan Thrift was in Hawaii working as a trainer for the SMU football team and his mom asked me to call to give him the bad news. It was a tough night to say the least.
Eric eventually stepped out and Leslie and I moved away.
Third generation of players
After Buck died and Eric left, we had a lot of instrumental shoes to fill. Luckily, many of our original fans had grown into musicians themselves and so Josh Cook and Dale Googer took on semi-permanent roles. We also discovered Chris Montes during this time and were trying to figure out why God would send us another acoustic guitar player/vocalist when we really needed an electric player?? Once God revealed his plan to move me, it all became clear. Chris took my place and was able to lead them to become much better musicians. Here’s the last line-up:
Chris Montes – guitar, vocals
Jon Godbold – bass, vocals
Dale Googer – drums
Josh Cook – electric guitar, vocals
Chip Leitschuh – keys
Shana Googer (Gumienny) – vocals
Other Short-Term or Guest Members include:
Ray Victor – soprano sax, drums
Patti Mathews – vocals
Dan Johnson – drums
Keith Cathcart – keys, vocals
Evan Godbold – vocals, bass, guitar
Hans Googer – guitar
Josh Gumienny – guitar, vocals
Zach Godbold – bass, vocals
Andrew Gay – electric guitar
Charles Jones – piano at church camp
According to Jon, one of the very last line-ups was what he called “Throne in the Greenhouse.” At their final District Camp the members of Throne Together (Chris, Jon, Chip, Shana) joined forces with those from “Greenhouse Effect” (Zach, Dale, Josh, Andrew Gay). Jon says it was “loud of full of energy.”
The impact of Throne Together is tough to describe. We were mentioned in the Cy Falls High School Yearbook as one of their students favorite bands. (That may be our highest official honor.) The entire community of believers at Tomball UMC was directly impacted each Sunday as they were led in worship. (Some would say it was a horrible impact.) Throne Together was also a part of a beautiful movement of the Spirit during those days. Quite possibly the greatest impact was eventually seen in the number of young people (once fans) who would go on to be involved in worship music themselves. There have been quite a few worship bands who were formed from the ranks of Throne Together fans. Even more interesting is to watch the 3rd Generation of bands – people who were impacted by people who were impacted by Throne Together. There’s no way to know how many people have been touched by all these musicians, but I feel confident in saying that God rejoices over them all. And I feel humbled and blessed to have been able to be a part of it.
If Throne Together impacted you in some significant way, please post a comment below.
Each download below includes entire CD. All songs + a Digital Booklet which was created from the original artwork. These files are large (high quality) and will take a while to download. Just right click and select “save as” to download.
In the late 1940s, the United States government . . . construct[ed] an 80 million dollar troop carrier for the navy. The purpose was to design a ship that could speedily carry fifteen thousand troops during times of war. By 1952, construction on the SS United States was complete. The ship could travel at forty-four knots (about fifty-one miles per hour), and she could steam ten thousand miles without stopping for fuel or supplies. She could outrun any other ship and travel non-stop anywhere in the world in less than ten days. The SS United States was the fastest and most reliable troop carrier in the world.
The only catch is, she never carried troops. At least not in any official capacity. . .
Instead the SS United States became a luxury liner for presidents, heads of state, and a variety of other celebrities who traveled on her during her seventeen years of service. As a luxury liner, she couldn’t carry fifteen thousand people. Instead she could house just under two thousand passengers. Those passengers could enjoy the luxuries of 695 staterooms, 4 dining salons, 3 bars, 2 theaters, 5 acres of open deck with a heated pool, 19 elevators, and the comfort of the world’s first fully air-conditioned passenger ship. Instead of a vessel used for battle during wartime, the SS United States became a means of indulgence for wealthy patrons who desired to coast peacefully across the Atlantic.
Things look radically different on a luxury liner than they do on a troop carrier. The faces of soldiers preparing for battle and those of patrons enjoying their bonbons are radically different. The conservation of resources on a troop carrier contrasts sharply with the opulence that characterizes the luxury liner. And the pace at which the troop carrier moves is by necessity much faster than that of the luxury liner. After all, the troop carrier has an urgent task to accomplish; the luxury liner, on the other hand, is free to casually enjoy the ship.
The SS United States = The American church
Unfortunately, most churches in America resemble the luxury liner. Although God designed us to carry soldiers into battle, we’ve become more interested our own comforts during the journey – so much so that we’ve actually quit moving toward the battle! When you attend a service at the average church in America, you typically hear more about the programs/amenities you can find on the ship than you do about the mission which is ahead. I guess it is what they say it is: a service. Like the staff on a cruise ship, the church is there trying to serve it’s patrons/members. Unfortunately, those members are there selfishly “getting fed” and consuming those services when they should be thinking in terms of being transformed/trained by the Gospel so they can accomplish the mission of “serving the world” with the Gospel.
To borrow a phrase from James, “My brothers, this should not be so.” (James 3:10)
On the other hand, what if the church was coming together to equip it’s members/troops to take ground for the Kingdom of God? What if we didn’t have “services” but “training exercises?” What if we removed the luxuries from the church and focused on the mission? What if we saw our ultimate goal as sending troops into the world rather than catering to the whims of our members? What would it take to convert the luxury liners that we have into troop carriers again? What organizational changes do we need in order to make quick, in-the-heat-of-battle decisions? If we were to return to our “troop-carrying calling,” would the church be able to accommodate 15,000 soldiers who shared space as opposed to 2,000 patrons fighting for position and space? If we focused on this calling, would the church move at a faster pace unhindered by petty internal arguments?
Anyway, these were just a few of my thoughts after reading this section of Radical.
Church staff people are valuable. (I know, ’cause I was one at one time.) Therefore, I have always said that if I was ever in a place where I got to make decisions regarding church staff, there are some things I’d like to offer them. Below are some of my ideas. What do you guys think??
Church Staff Benefits/Requirements
Our goal is to make this the best job you’ve ever had. We hope you find a place where you can feel supported, encouraged, and equipped to become all that God has called you to and want to lay a groundwork/foundation so this is possible. At any moment, we’d welcome any suggestions you might have for your own position or for one of your co-workers. We hope to treat each person as an individual and therefore your benefits may differ from your co-workers. We are not as interested in “equal” as we are in “what is right” for a particular situation/individual. We want to be as flexible as possible and believe that we have hired the right people and so we will choose to trust you with these benefits.
1. Must take 3 weeks vacation each year. This is extended to 4 weeks after serving for 5 yrs and to 5 weeks after 10 years of service. You will also get regular holidays where no one works.
2. Must take a 3 month sabbatical (paid) after 5 years of service. The number of vacation days you will receive will be reduced for this particular year.
3. Health/Dental Insurance for you and your family.
4. A month of sick leave each year – if needed. If there is a major event, more will be offered.
5. In the event of a pregnancy/birth, one month will be given to a husband for helping his family settle into the home – 3 months for a mother. All pre-natal doctor visits are excused for both mom and dad. For a parent, the family takes priority over the church. A staff person can only be healthy and effective professionally if his/her home life is healthy. We also believe that healthy homes among our staff people will serve as good examples to the congregation of what it means to live out our calling as parents.
6. One normal “work day” a month must be spent away from the office for the specific purpose of seeking God.
7. At least 2 normal “work days” a month (and as many as 1 day a week) must be spent serving in the community. The church will not just pay “lip service” & cash to the support of outside ministries. We realize that it may take you a little while to find a ministry niche that works for you and so we have also arranged a “local tour of ministries” for new staff people. Over the course of a couple months you’ll work in multiple ministries and meet the leaders of them. If your heart beats for something else, we’d also consider allowing/equipping/helping you to create a new outside ministry to be involved in regularly. However, this would be allowed sparingly. Church staff people generally do not need another thing to lead. They need places to serve and connect with people outside the church.
8. Parents will be excused from normal “work” to attend their children’s events.
9. You should plan to be away from each of your weekly/normal programs at least once a month. (This forces others to step into the leadership roles and encourages you to equip them rather than just doing it all yourself.) This also allows you to use this time to volunteer or visit another ministry within the church or even at another church to help you get new ideas and stay “fresh.”
10. Staff people will only work 5 days/week except in special occasions like church camp, mission trips, etc. For a regular week, we insist on you actually taking 2 days off.
11. Funeral leave.
12. Although we do not believe in retirement and cannot find it in Scripture, we do believe in fiscal responsibility and will offer a pension plan. You may set aside up to 3% of your salary and the church will match 1.5% of it.
PS – I realize that some of this may not be very practical and maybe even a bit over-the-top but I think I’d rather err on the side of generosity.
The other BIG News is that Kasen pooped in the potty today for the very first time. We rewarded him with a “Big Sucker” and he chose the Mickey Mouse Sucker. Here’s a pic of his poo poo (long pause) . . . . reward:
For those of you who are still reading and who want to know some of the deeper things going on with us, I thought I’d update you on a few things too:
1.) I have officially become unemployed. Sundays are strange. We have visited a few churches and will continue to do so until we find the place that’s right for us. Neither Miranda nor I has ever chosen a church to be involved in. We’ve always been chosen by the church and welcomed with more than open arms. Now, we’re not staff people. Now, we experience what everybody else in the world experiences when they walk into a church. There’s something kinda fun about it though too. It’s nice to be in a worship service without feeling like you had to be “on” or be weary of the neverending saga of politics which surround church staff people each week.
2.) I am currently in the midst of an alternative certification program for teachers. This week I passed the 4-8th Generalist content exam which makes me eligible to get a teaching job. I’m able to teach anything 4-8th grade. The exam was much more difficult than I had imagined, but I ended up scoring well. 282 out of 300 and the passing grade was only 240. I’m excited about the possibility of teaching. My favorite parts of youth ministry have always been the times with students and this way I’ll be able to be with them every day of the week. I’m also excited about having a schedule similar to my kids as they grow older and having Sundays off so that we can be involved wherever we’d like. We’re prayin’ that I can get a teaching job before the end of this school year – preferably close to home too.
Seth Godin had a great post about marketing based upon some ideas from a book about comic books by Scott McCloud.
In comic books, the action takes place “between the frames” and the reader ends up telling the story in his imagination as much or more than the author/illustrator. The reader moves the story from one frame to the next inventing the action as he goes.
Godin goes on to explain that marketing works the same way. Marketers worry about the frames (commercials, print media, customer “touches,” etc.) when the action that really matters takes place between the frames. It’s not the TV ad, but what my neighbor tells me about the product that matters. It’s not when the waitress is at your table; what matters is what you overhear the other employees say behind the counter.
Anyway, I think this applies to the church too. I’ve worked for pastors who believe that the greatest thing a staff person can do is to make your Sunday morning worship experiences exceptional – that the majority of focus should be on what happens on Sunday mornings. I’m not saying a good worship service is bad. It’s just that there’s so much more. A focus on Sunday morning worship is like focusing on the frames. The “action,” the part that matters, takes place between the frames. It’s the conversations in the parking lot after church – or the invitations to lunch. It’s the smiles shared by one church member to another when they see each other in the mall. It’s the informal gatherings of friends in each others homes. It’s the prayers that are lifted up during the week for a hurting friend – the donations given to someone in need. Real marketing isn’t organized and produced, it’s a natural expression of who we are.
How can we infuse churches with this sort of “between the frames” kind of thinking? What does it take to influence a church culture to become a “comic book culture” with it’s members creating the action between the frames?
Anyway, all this is to say. I’m striving to a “between frames” kind of guy. I pray that God (by His Spirit) will lead my imagination and help me create the story which will move the action to the place where He wants the next frame to be.
Whoa!! I came home from a rough day @ church last night and found the most amazing e-mail awaiting me.
Simon was a “hard headed punk kid that had it all figured out.” Those are his words but I’d say they’re pretty accurate. I was the leader for a youth ministry skating outreach program called “The Wave.” In those days, we typically had between 70 and 150 youth, but every one of my volunteers knew Simon. He was loud. He was disrespectful. He did whatever he could to be the center of attention – even if the attention was negative. The volunteers and I prayed for Simon pretty regularly and discussed how we could keep being witnesses to him without letting him railroad us. He was tough. We didn’t have very many answers – just prayers.
I think it’s been about 7 years. Anyway, here are some pieces of what he wrote to me:
It’s Simon Holloway from Tomball. How are you doing brother?
Wait. . . .Did he just call me “brother?”
I was thinking about you today and the influence you had in my life, when I was younger. . . I sincerely want to thank you for showing me grace and spreading the word with me. . . About 2 months ago I was saved and for the first time had a better understanding about Him and Jesus. After that happened I thought about you many times and you inspired me. I knew it was all real because I had proof from another source, and that was you. It’s all because I think of an old time at The Wave when I was cussin at you and just being a pain in the rear for everyone up there, I was thinking you were coming to rip me a new one when you came and talked to me and gave me grace. It’s almost like in the Bible when they bring the woman who is caught for adultery and they’re expecting Jesus to get mad. Instead Jesus gives grace like he always does and I now see that in you, today.
Whoa! I sure don’t remember that incident. All I really remember is wondering how I could try to be Jesus to him when I really wanted to “rip him a new one” – Had I done it, I would have done exactly what he expected and I would have lost any influence I had with him. Wow! Only by God’s grace did I do the right thing – the thing that he remembered and that made the difference in his life. Had I reacted on my own emotional influences, I would have played right into his misconceptions of God. I guess in some ways, this whole thing sounds sort of like I’m bragging, but what I’m trying to say is that I know how close I was to doing the wrong thing and that God’s power. . . His Spirit is the only thing that made a difference. I want to brag for sure, but on God, not on me. God is amazing!!
Well Steve, I just wanted to thank you a lot and let it be known what you did for me when I was younger and now. . . . I will definitely be praying for you bro and I know God will show you grace in the situation!
Talk to you soon.
God got a hold of Simon!!!!! Whoa. That’s an e-mail I would have never imagined receiving. If Saul could become Paul, I guess Simon could become a Christian too, but. . .well, sometimes those ministry days seemed unfruitful. They were hard. We kept trying, but it just didn’t seem like we were getting anywhere. I can look back now and see that’s true. We weren’t getting anywhere – BUT GOD WAS!! He used those times and used us in spite of our ignorance. In spite of ourselves.
Man, I love these kinds of stories. We serve an incredible God!!! He is amazing! His power is ultimate and intimate and infinite! He can and does move people’s hearts. (Both Simon’s and mine that day.) He gives us the strength to follow Him even when we don’t feel like it. He can take a hard headed punk and turn him into a humble servant. He is over all and above all and through all. He is God. He is Yahweh! He is our strength, our redeemer, our salvation, our joy, our light, our love. He is love! He gives love! His character is love!
Prayer:Lord, thank you for Simon. Guide him deeper into your presence. Hold him close to You and draw him close to other believers who will truly disciple him. Use him for Your eternal works and for Your glory! Thank you God for sending this message to me. As You know, it was perfect timing. I needed it. Thank You for choosing me for that time and place in ministry. It was an honor to have been a part of such amazing blessings and to have worked with so many incredible volunteers and students. Lord, hold me close and guide me deeper into your presence. I love You and truly can’t imagine this life without You. I need You.You’re are amazing and it’s not just me that thinks so. . . “Simon says” too! AMEN!
PS – Simon gave me permission to repost his e-mail. He even said, “Never know, it could make an impact on someone else life.”
Our church has struggled through this rough economy. Every full-time programming staff position is being made “part-time” in January. They have been very intentional about communicating that this is not a “performance related” decision. Here’s a letter drafted by the SPRC chairman describing the circumstance: Clarification Letter Anyway, I have until January to find another way to support my family.
In spite of the title of this post, I’m NOT looking for a job, but a position that I can passionately pursue – one in which I can bring Jesus glory and make a difference in the world. This might be another church position, a teaching position, or any number of endless possibilities.
Over the years in youth ministry, I have developed many skills and believe I can be an asset to almost any setting.
I have experience in:
Leading contemporary worship
Multimedia and film Production
I love dreaming, leading, casting vision, and chasing after God’s preferred future.
I’m not too proud. I ask for your prayers, your advice, and your help. Miranda and I are confident in God’s hand of providence, but we will also need our friends (the body of Christ) to help us through this difficult time. Galatians 6:2 says, “Carry each others burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.”
Proverbs 3:5-6 – “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight.”
Want to contact me?
If this is true and the way we communicate has fundamentally changed, then what does this mean to the church? The church has been notorious for being behind the curve when it comes to innovations – many are still doing the songs of the 50s and lamenting over the “good ‘ol days.”
Some church people are fearful of new technologies. (The news stories of those who abuse the technology doesn’t help.) Some even have “spiritual” reasons for not using it. (They’d rather spend their time “with Jesus.”) I may be wrong, but it seems to me that if these technologies have “fundamentally changed” the way we communicate, then the church needs to break in and use it to communicate the gospel – give Jesus a voice in these new social media communities by being an active incarnated presence.
I’d love to hear from you guys. What are the best (and worst) ways you guys see the church using technology and social media in particular?