Into the Shadow of Lent


Photographed here is Saint Stephen’s Episcopal Church in Philadelphia where I participated in a beautiful Ash Wednesday service. I was compelled to embrace something new rather than leave an old habit behind. Gonna be thinking about what that means for the next 40 days. Have a blessed Lenten season.

“I am but one small intstrument.”

We’re sitting at the gate getting ready to board a plane for NYC. We’re on our way to begin a 10 show celebration of a record we released 10 years ago. We’ve been rehearsing quite a bit, soaking these songs in and it’s been hitting me how utterly unlikely all of this is. When we made this album we had just come off a very disappointing experience of releasing our first major label album. When we were signed, it was just assumed we were headed for massive album sales and radio play galore. Instead we were humbled into what felt like obscurity, having to explain who we were to over and over when hanging out at our record label building after being on the label for years. Imagine David Spade saying, “And you are…..?”

While making Clarity, we were completely below anyone’s radar. It was a feeling of both utter freedom and depressing insignificance. These songs were formed from posture of deep humility, doubt, and isolation. I also believe it was a time of true honesty. When no one is looking, you are most free to be who you really are. So this really is an unlikely time for us. If someone were to tell us that in ten years we’d be embarking on a sold-out tour that celebrates these songs, we would have told that person to take it easy on the crack.

So this a perfect example of how both you and I really have no idea what kind of impact we can have in the world. At the time, forming this collection of songs was a small thing and somehow they’ve had an impact we could have never imagined. It’s a reminder to never assume what you do is insignificant. The conventional wisdom of measuring success does not always yield the true weight of who we are and how we touch the world around us. It’s funny, this album is to this day one of our worst selling releases, so the numbers don’t always tell the whole story.

It’s gonna be an amazing few weeks. I can’t help but think of some words my friend wrote:

“Is tomorrow just a day like all the rest.”
How could you know just what you did?
So full of faith yet so full of doubt I ask.
Time and time again you said don’t be afraid.
“If you believe you can do it.”
The only voice I want to hear is yours.
I shall ask you this once again.
And again.
He said:
” I am but one small instrument.”
Do you remember that?
So here I am above palm trees so straight and tall.
You are smaller, getting smaller.
But I still see you.

If you’re German, it’s Wideo Wenue

If you don’t know by now, most Germans when speaking english substitute their “V” with a “W.” That explains the title.

Bob Hyatt has a great post regarding the possibility of a Mark Driscoll video venue church in Portland, OR:

Please understand- If you want to listen to Mark’s podcast/watch his vodcast, I think you should go for it- I subscribe to his podcast for crying out loud. But where we’re going with this is eventually a Mark Driscoll, Andy Stanley, Ed Young Jr, Rick Warren, Bill Hybels, et al Video Franchise in every major city, the further Wal-Martization of the church and, I kid you not- the death of preaching.

Think that’s hyperbole?

Stay tuned.

First of all, Bob has a great blog and I had the chance to meet him face to face at the NPC last week. Bob has written extensively on the issue of video venue and I’m totally on board with his concerns. I see a very similar thing going on in the music business. Record labels are basically abandoning the development of young artist in order to focus all of their resources on their established, aging stars as the entire business nose dives into the shitter. The reason it’s gone this way is developing young artists takes time, money, and immense risk…’s hard. Why develop young talent when we have all this talent that’s already here waiting to be ridden into the sunset.

The problem is that there will be hardly any large scale acts that will help keep the business afloat and, in turn, help fund the development of younger artists. Granted, the problems with the music industry are many and are much more complicated than I’m hitting on here, but the point remains.

But I must admit the prospect of a Mark Driscoll video venue church coming to other major cities might give me the opportunity to try out the McKenzie brothers’ trick with the jar of moths. I’m torn.

**Update** Bob hits another post out of the park on this issue. Nice to see folks actually wrestling with the unintended consequences of how we use technology.

The Treasure of Nothingness

We fear nothingness. That’s why we fear death, too. I suspect that death is the shocking realization that everything I thought was me, everything I held onto so desperately, was precisely nothing.

The nothingness we fear so much is, in fact, the treasure that we long for. We long for the space where there is nothing to prove and nothing to protect; where I am who I am, and it’s enough.

— Richard Rohr, Radical Grace

Surviving the “Lions Den” of the Secular Workplace

A commenter, Penny, recently asked me this:

I have a question for you, as a spiritual person, I find it is often difficult in circle of friends that do not share the same values with you. How do you deal with this within your band? Do they share your sentiments and faith? I am apart of a little garage band..but my band mates are not so supportive.

The reason I bring this up is because I’m asked this quite a bit so I thought I’d try to respond. What Penny describes is not at all uncommon. People of faith all over the world find themselves in work related or social environments where those around them don’t share their faith or their values. So my situation as the sole Christian in a group of four partners is nothing unique.

For some reason I’ve never been burden by the tension that I am the only Christian in the band. I think that is largely due to the fact that my band mates are extremely gracious individuals. They don’t feel the need to change me and I don’t feel the need to change their minds in order to validate my own perspective. On the contrary, I’ve been massively influenced by the harmony we’ve achieved as a band for the past 16 years and that has less to do with me and much more to do with my band mates. I’ve learned a lot about community and coexistence from them and that is ultimately their gift to me, not the other way around. They may have been positively influenced by me at times, but I don’t think it’s best for me to approach my relationships with the assumption that I have some kind of nugget of wisdom that they need in order to be more full human beings. I just don’t believe that. If I were to operate with that assumption, then I wouldn’t blame them for not being supportive and soured by my holier-than-thou posture. But who knows, maybe some of them will read this and let me know I’m full of shit. haha.

Shane Hipps on Virtual Community

Shane Hipps and Zach Lind Discuss Virtual Community. from Zach Lind on Vimeo.

Last week at the National Pastors Convention in San Diego Shane Hipps sat down for a brief conversation with Christianity Today to discuss the concept of “virtual community.” You can view the video here. As a result of this clip there have been several folks who’ve pushed back on Shane’s point that virtual community is not authentic community but provides only a fraction of what face to face community provides. You can read discussions on the clip here, here, here, and here. So the video above is Shane’s response and clarification of his original point expressed on the Christianity Today clip.

If you haven’t checked out Shane’s new book, Flickering PIxels, to uncover more on this subject, check it out here.

Surprised by Hope

I just got back yesterday from a two day hangout at the National Pastors Convention in San Diego. I journeyed out with Shane Hipps and basically shadowed him at all of his events. It was an amazing time of hanging out with friends and meeting others who I’ve greatly admired.

For some reason that I’m not totally sure of, most of my close friends happen to be pastors. Maybe it’s a coincidence, I’m not sure, but for some reason I really am fascinated by who they are and what they do. Based on my observation it’s hands down the most difficult and demanding job I know of.

My take away from these past few days was that both Rob Bell and Shane Hipps haven’t done nothin’ yet. Watch out! And another theme that really jumped out at me through various conversations and observations that there are two completely different conversations taking place in Christianity today. One version is concerned with defending the religious assumptions rooted in the all important “either/or” duality that blankets American Christianity. The other conversation has already mourned the death of the previous conversation and has turned to page to a completely different set of questions. Maybe I’m terribly wrong, but this conversation is actually interesting and compelling. It is rooted in possibility, not duality.

Witnessing this dialogue in person this week has somehow relieved me of some of my bewilderment and frustration for the other conversation that seems to be losing more of it’s relevance with every tick of the clock.

I went in bracing for major bum out but I return to the desert more optimistic than ever and I must admit, it’s a bit shocking. Not even all the garbage in the conference retail store could bring me down. 😉 Tom Wright’s book title, “Surprised by Hope” comes to mind.