Pursuing Good: Appropriate

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I remember visiting a church with my family following the horrific attacks of 9/11. To be honest, I was not completely sure how I was feeling. I am sure you can relate. How odd was it that this church barely mentioned those events and did not seem to alter their service in any way. I left with nothing. Whatever that service was, it was not good… and we never went back.

I live within a few miles of Charlotte, NC. Recently our city made national news with the tragic police shooting of Keith Lamont Scott and the subsequent protests. This was a time to stand with people who were hurting, to prophetically speak to power, and pray for our police officers. Among the members of our church, we had police officers assisting in the crowd control and congregants joining the protests! I didn’t say this was easy. That’s a lot of emotion to deal with. (And please forgive me for using this tragedy as an illustration. I know how intense it is and that is what makes this conversation about our ministry so critical. Of course I feel that weight. I’m feeling it now.) In fear of not offending anyone or fear of saying the wrong thing, I shudder to think how many congregations completely ignored the entire thing. Shameful.

These examples reveal responses that were neither suitable nor proper (the very definition of appropriate).

If you recall the backstory behind these pursuit of good posts, the example that sparked it all was examining what made an actor good. The characteristic about being appropriate had everything to do with body language and how an actor uses their body as an instrument to convey what is appropriate in a scene. This is an apt metaphor. Are we comfortable in our own skin as the body of Christ?

To be appropriate, we need both emotional range and spiritual fortitude/muscle to wade into these deep waters.

Keep thinking! Continue reading.

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Pursuing Good: Complete

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In my recent post Pursuing Good: The Backstory, I began to process what makes something good. I ran into a couple of articles that really helped propel this idea forward. I even started to address the bad press we give good as opposed to great or excellent. I’ll continue to focus on that tension.

Here are the characteristics of a good service. A service is good when it is…

  1. authentic
  2. surprising
  3. exposing vulnerability
  4. interesting (with a by product of my engagement)
  5. appropriate
  6. complete or full (delivers on the expectation)
  7. special
  8. smooth in transitions
  9. purposeful (or communicating a point)
  10. impeccably executed

In this post, let’s do a deeper dive in #6—a service is good when it is complete. As usual, let’s start with a definition to get on the same page:

complete |kəmˈplēt| adjective
having all the necessary or appropriate parts
• entire; full
• having run its full course
(often used for emphasis) to the greatest extent or degree; total
Apple Dictionary v2.2.1

Let’s go.

Keep thinking! Continue reading.

Pursuing Good: Interesting

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Everyone loves to talk about creating and being excellent. I’m not so into that, you could say. Instead, though it is not nearly as impressive, I like to consider what makes my work as a church technical artist good. Excellent is about being extremely good. In my opinion, if you have not mastered good, you should stop talking about excellence. Also, I am tired of the one-upmanship, the bigger and better, surrounding the idea of excellence. When God created the world He declared it good, pleasant, agreeable. That’s good enough for me.

So instead of sounding off about what I don’t like, I am attempting to flesh out a better way. A way of good. I am applying this to how we do our work around the Sunday morning service, but these characteristics create a framework for any endeavor. In no way am I advocating for shoddy work. As we uncover these characteristics, we’ll see that they are challenging and demand more from us than perhaps we are doing now. Even if we call our work excellent.

So far, I have discussed that a service is good when it is authentic, surprising, and exposing vulnerability. Today we are talking about the next characteristic, a service is good when it is interesting. [FYI, I have 10 in total!]
If you’d like to discover where this framework came from, I talked about the backstory in my first post in this series.

Keep thinking! Continue reading.

Pursuing Good: Exposing Vulnerability

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The world looks completely different.

Sometimes it lasts for a day or even a week.

After reading a really good book it can take time to recover, to reorient oneself to the world outside of the world of the story. The same is true of a concert that elevates us to a new level of heightened experience and emotion.

All of us have had experiences with art that enable us to transcend reality, if even for a few short moments. Whether a theatrical production, film, music, a painting, a book, or design; art resonates with us in a deeply satisfying way. It also connects us to those with a shared experience.

We cannot always put our finger on what it is that is creating this reaction when we feel it, sense it, and experience it. For those of us who do this for a living — crafting experiences and art to move people into closer relationship with and obedience to Jesus — we cannot afford to not know. We cannot afford to guess.

Keep thinking! Continue reading.

Pursuing Good: Surprise

pursuinggood_surprise

In my recent post Pursuing Good: The Backstory, I began to process what makes something good. I ran into a couple of articles that really helped propel this idea forward. I even started to address the bad press we give good as opposed to great or excellent. I’ll continue to focus on that tension.

We already looked at authenticity. In this article I want to tackle the second characteristic in my master list of what makes something good:

A service is good when it is surprising.

As usual, let’s define this word in an effort to get on the same page.

Keep thinking! Continue reading.