How Community Affects Worship
I met David Leonard and Leslie Jordan while serving at our Sunday morning gatherings. I started serving with David and Leslie by running front-of-house sound. I didn’t know them well, but I had a gift I could use in serving our body. So I did. This is how we met.
Serving together created something more than mere friendship; it created the knowledge of a common goal and passion. This was the passion to communicate Truth by way of music.
Eventually David and Leslie started writing songs together and formed a duo called All Sons and Daughters. This duo wasn’t something separate from our community, but an extension of it. The songs were written from the stories and seasons of our community. They were stories of extreme pain and struggle, authentic joy, freedom, and the pure goodness of God. These songs became our anthem and through them we have become a stronger and closer community.
As time moved forward they asked me to tour manage and run sound for them, and it has become a ministry for me. Because of the community that existed previously between David, Leslie, and myself, it simply seemed like the next step on our journey together.
When we are traveling and playing shows, the collaboration between sound guy and the artist already exists because the relationship was born out of community. During each show we both have the same goals in mind; providing a space for people to slow down, take a breath, worship, and listen to the voice of God – minus the common distractions. This plays into the way I advance shows, the lighting set up, how I mix their set, and the conversations that take place after.
The music, it turns out, is a side effect of community. David and Leslie’s music has been created from the journey of this community.
Music is an expression – an emotion. Music can contain great truth – whether it’s within the stories or the words that make up the song. It has the power to bring thousands of people from different backgrounds, faiths, and locations into one space – all moving to the same beat.
Music is powerful.
But music can not make us do or believe anything. It has the power to influence our hearts and minds – to soar over the walls we build around our hearts. But it does not have the power to break down those walls and allow Christ to heal our brokenness. For this, God created and gave us the need for community and this is where the healing and freedom begins.
For the majority of my life I have been a part of the Church.
But if I hadn’t, and found myself reading through the stories of the Bible, I think I would come to some interesting conclusions. I don’t think reading the Gospels and Acts would lead me to fundraising and campaigning to start a church. It would leave me with a desire to communicate the Truth that has become part of me and to make disciples of all nations.
During my journey I would probably run into others heading in the same direction with the same desires, passions, and giftings. It would make sense to join in with them in communicating this Truth to greater multitudes. Eventually there would be a need for some order and structure. At some point, as we also see in the later part of Acts chapter 4, we would come to the understanding that they had many things (Acts actually says everything) in common. A new community of broken, forgiven, and passionate people on a journey toward Christ would emerge as a new kind of community.
This is our heritage, this is our story and this has become our song.
For the past 4 years my closest community has been a group of Christ following believers in Franklin, TN. What drew me into this community was their desire and expressed need for true Biblical community. I confess that at times it’s not a pretty place – it’s very messy. Sometimes it seems there are just as many tears and heartaches as there are smiles and carefree greetings on Sunday mornings. But one thing’s for sure: it’s real and it’s honest. It’s a community that understands real transformation comes from realizing how broken we truly are. It is only through this pain that Christ can so boldly reveal himself and become a part of us.
Through these struggles we also celebrate the joys and the victories of a life lived in surrender to the Christ who saved us and continues to save us every moment of our life. Walking through these things together is community. It brings us closer together and gives us the perspective that we are not in this life alone; that this is the way God designed us to live – in community. So, when we hurt, we hurt together. When we rejoice, we rejoice together. When we serve, we serve together. And this is one of the ways that God is showing us His intense love – through one another.
Whether you are currently part of a community on Sunday mornings or traveling with a band on the road, community is God’s desire for these relationships. Be careful not to create a cheap imitation. Community can not be mimicked. Allow it to form from the grace, mercy, and truths of Christ. Community takes work. It’s a slow, painful process. But this is how we were meant to live.
The music that stems from it will also either be a mimic or the real thing. So if you’re a songwriter, write what you know. Write about where you and your community are. If you’re an audio engineer or tour manager, make every effort to know the people you work with. Accept them for who God has made them and for where they are in their journey with Christ. The best music has come from the honest hearts of the broken and redeemed. And honest hearts have always been the result of authentic community.