Those Techie Guys

At most churches every week you see those tech guys in the corner/at the back/hidden away – you don’t really know what they do, you don’t hear any difference when they turn a knob or move a fader, you don’t realise that it has often meant turning up first, setting it all up, fighting with cables, thinking through a hundred different options of what could be wrong when something doesn’t work, line checking, sound checking, eq-ing each instrument, balancing the whole mix, trying to make the musicians happy as well as the pastor and the congregation and themselves (an impossible task btw) then probably being the last to leave after packing down all their work, when they’d maybe just about got happy with it. And with all this in mind and more, it’s no wonder people call it a thankless task. (Although I do have to say that I experience many thanks at my church!)

And even though there’s all these hidden tasks, I love it. And I think if you speak to most tech guys (getting over the fact that a lot of them do speak a different language) I think you’ll find they love it too.

There is something seriously satisfying about making an instrument sound exactly how you want it. Mixing instruments and vocals together to get just the right balance. And obviously, I have to admit, having the control to just mute everyone and everything if you so wished.

There’s something just really great about being part of creating an environment that people can worship in. Yeah people may often not notice what you’ve done, but that often means you’ve succeeded!

Looking round and seeing people worshipping and you being part of enabling that in the best way is amazing. Now I know you don’t need PA to worship God, he’ll meet with you wherever through whatever means but having gifted musicians to lead you in sung worship as a congregation is something special and PA really helps us to do that!

It lifts up the gifts of the musicians, lifts up the opportunity for others to be led by them and lifts up God himself by serving him and his church.

And all ‘jobs’ in the church can be seen like this, they’re all serving so worshipping God in that way but they’re also enabling and helping others to encounter God, which I think is one of the greatest privileges someone can have. Whether it’s putting the chairs out, serving tea and coffee, welcoming on the door, chatting with someone new, praying with someone, doing the visuals – (a massive enabler!) cleaning the toilets, directing people on a car park, picking up rubbish… The list is endless, they are all great forms of worship and all just as valuable in creating that environment for people to come into. And the fact that the list is endless is really exciting. There are endless ways to serve, which means there’s a place for absolutely everyone to worship God in that way and to add to the creation of the environment where people can come and spend time with God.

I do really enjoy serving and believe it or not I even enjoy coiling cables!

And what a picture of our God it is if we all serve him in whatever way we can. As we serve him, we serve the church, we serve one another – we put others before ourselves, just as the Father, Son and Spirit have eternally done. It’s an incredible picture of the outwardly loving God we serve.

And Jesus died for his church. ┬áIf it was worth dying for, surely it’s worth us putting some chairs out or picking up some rubbish for?

So get involved with your church, wherever you can. Join in this great opportunity to serve God and others in this way! And enjoy how you become a part of creating a great environment for people to come into. I know I love it and I’m sure you will too!


Changing the Channel

I’ve been looking at popculture for my elective study the past few months and thinking through it’s impact on us. It really is fascinating! We can’t live in the world without being exposed to and influenced by popculture in some way or another. Even if you shut yourself in a room with blank walls and never left, there is still a designer out there somewhere that designed that room…

In being more aware as to the place that popculture has in people’s lives and thinking how I approach and consume it in my own, thinking about how I can reflect on certain films and articles and stories and fashion etc, I’ve been trying to expand my range of what I watch and read. Trying to watch different films that I wouldn’t ordinarily pick up off the shelf.

But then I’ve been left thinking, how far do I go with this? What is ok to let myself be exposed to? And where do I draw the line and let myself walk away from a film when I am finding it actually not that nice to watch? We are so drawn in by stories and characters and get tied up in emotions and the lives of the people we are watching. I don’t know whether this applies more to females than males, but I regularly get shivers through my whole body when something amazing happens to someone in a film or tv programme, when they acheve something or reach for a dream or when someone’s life is transformed by a certain act. And on the other end of the spectrum I am sensitive to crime and murder and affairs and things that mess up people’s lives.

When watching new things, I’ve not always been able to watch them all the way through. For instance, the new series Fargo, I couldn’t even get through the first episode. Here was a story where one guy had practically made it seem to someone else that it was ok to kill someone, that they deserved it and he seemed to show no feelings from that murder at all. Three quarters of the way through, 3 murders later, I turned it off knowing I just couldn’t watch it anymore. I didn’t want to know what would happen next because I just couldn’t see it getting any better and I was distressed enough!

Also watching the film Arbitrage the other week, I had to fight the urge to not just walk out from it. I found it really difficult to watch and if I had been on my own would have turned it off. Certain issues I find really hard to continue watching. Yet it was great to discuss these with others afterwards and see how we felt differently towards what outcome we desired when watching the film and give our reasons for each.

I’ve been learning how to step back from something I have watched and think it through. What is the storyline? How does it bring people in? What themes in it did I struggle with? Did I get drawn in by characters that I don’t actually share moral ground with? Why? How? What felt right and what didn’t? And where does the gospel fit in this? How does a gospel perspective fit on this story? Film writers write films as they have something to say. They’re not to be approached as if they have no power or moral content, but approached knowing that there are many people and views and ideas behind the writing and making of the film.

However, even with being able to step back and think through these things, I think there’s still a line to be drawn between what you watch and don’t watch. And that line will be different for everyone.

Ted Turnau in his book Popologetics,talks about this and gives 3 very useful outlines for engaging with popular culture ‘without undermining spiritual purity and wounding our own consciences’.

1. Know your limits.

We each know our own heart and where we fall down. So don’t put temptation in your way, don’t watch the things that aren’t hepful to you, that hit you where you’re weak and could lead you astray.

2. Know what offends and degrades.

If something is just down right degrading then just walk away from it. As Ted Ternau puts it ‘It’s hard to be a child of the light if you allow yourself to get dragged into the dark.’

And we all have different standards of dark and light so we need to respect that, let’s not drag other people into darkness who don’t have as high a tolerance level.

3. Know the emotional price tag.

I found this the most interesting to think about. Even if something isn’t degrading in itself or doesn’t appear to be dark at first glance, if you watch many series of one thing, how much are you getting drawn into life through the eyes of a certain character that you have become attached to? It might not tempt or degrade but ‘it still carries an emotional core that can have a powerful impact.’

I’m sure it’s not just me that has become so absorbed in a character that their life on screen or in a book effects how you feel in your own life? I remember clearly when Dobby died in Harry Potter, I cried for hours. I couldn’t leave my room to face anyone as I felt genuine grief. I had to continue reading and finish the book, as at that time it felt like the only thing I could hold onto as part of Dobby’s life. And this was a house elf, not even a real person!

Ted Ternau again puts this really well ‘Living vicariously in someone else’s head and seeing through their eyes can be a profoundly moving experience, especially if it continues for hours.’

These 3 points have really helped me further think about engaging with popular culture. I’m still happy exposing myself to new things and have got better at letting myself be immersed but then stepping back afterwards. Yet, these 3 points have helped me one step further in knowing that it’s ok to not watch something at all or to turn something off part way through if I just can’t deal with it. I think I’d got to the point of thinking I should be able to look at anything when then stepping back and putting a gospel perspective on it, but actually I know the importance of still guarding my heart and my mind and not being worried to actually stick to my boundaries.


(I would really recomment Ted Ternau’s book Popologetics which you can get here!)


Scary Steps

I’ve been feeling pretty scared about finishing Relay and moving out of Falmouth recently. Definitely letting it stress me out too much. But when it comes to leaving practically everything you’ve known for the past 4 years, it’s not going to be easy.

Moving away from home and uni is always a growth time for anyone. (Although you definitely seem to go backwards at uni as you’re meant to be growing up! … The days of inventing the sport of rolling up hills definitely showed me that…)
It’s an enormous step into life and the world, whether that’s forward our backwards, and it feels absolutely ages ago that I took it.

So much has changed and it’s been a major time of growing in my faith and my understanding of who God is and my relationship with him and how that effects my life too. This is something I could not have anticipated as I was choosing uni. I definitely wasn’t at that point asking God where he wanted me, but I can say for sure now that Falmouth is where I was meant to be.

From starting uni, having experienced God but not really walking with him or fully understanding what it meant to know him, to being asked to be a Small Group leader (so finally picking up my bible) to then getting baptised, leading the CU for a year, going away with OM for 4 months as part of my degree and then staying to do Relay, I could never have anticipated the plans that God had for me.

As I look back there have been so many people placed in my life and so many opportunities that have lead me to where I am now. I am so grateful for the amount of people that have invested in me and helped me along.

And as I look forward, I can’t help but be scared. The unknown is scary. And even scarier knowing I’ll be away from everything and everyone that has helped me in my walk with God while I’ve known Him.

But actually it’s really comforting thinking back over the past 4 years seeing how one thing has lead to another and how I know in another 4 years I will be able to do the same. I could never have planned the last 4 years out!

I don’t know the next step and I don’t know where it will take me. But I know God has brought me this far and he’s not about to abandon me now. Other people might not be there, but He still is. Whether I’m in a big life transition or just walking down the street He’s with me every step of the way. (He’ll even carry me on those days I’m too frozen to take a step.)

I need to stop holding on to the fear that I’m stuck in right now. Need to give up denying that life is going to change. And embrace that just as Jesus had great plans for me these past 4 years, even greater plans are to come. Everything else may be changing but I can rest in the one who doesn’t change. The Alpha and the Omega. The beginning and the end.

I can surrender all to Him, the one who knew me before I was born. The one who knows my paths and walks them with me.

And that’s not easy. I like to have control. I want to know what is next. But I know I can trust the one who created the whole universe and still cares about me. And, thankfully, He will help me in that.

Could you, would you, should you, leave your phone at home?

This video has gone viral over the past few days – showing the amount people are on social media. Totally backing up what it is about.

But if I leave my phone, on the shelf when I go out – who am I connected with? Who can I find is about? Gone have the days when we all arrange meet ups months in advance (and then stick to them).

I do think this video is worth a watch. I think it’s got some really great points. I’ve seen people sit in cafes on their phones not talking, I’ve been at station platforms with everyone glued to a screen. I’ve been what I feel ignored when I really want a proper conversation and I’ve probably done the same to others too. I am one of them people who pulls out my phone when I don’t know what to do.

Yet in this social media savvy world, aren’t you disconnecting yourself by turning your phone off?

It does scare me at times, thinking about the presence and place social media has. Why is it so prominent in so many people’s lives? What is it about it that draws us in? And keeps us in?

Yes it can take us away from the people we’re currently present with, but it can also bring us to them.

I’m really torn. I know theirs truths in this video, but I think smart phones and social media is life right now and rather than us switching them off, we need to learn how to do life with them well.

As I said, this video has gone viral over the last few days. And what does that show about the impact social media can have? Many people all over the world, coming together to watch one video. Conversations on and offline will and have come through it.

We’ll never be able to 100% weigh up the positive and negative effects of social media. But we can’t escape that this is the world. I’m glad people are thinking about it and that this video will have provoked a lot of people to do so. We need to be aware of the effect technology is having on us. We do need to step back and look at it.

And then we need to think, where can we go from here?

I doubt there will be many that will watch and share this video then delete their fb account…

Technology. Social media. Smart phones. They are life right now. So how do we best do life with them?