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Omaha, Nebraska, United States
I am more and more convinced that most congregations die from a staggering lack of imagination. Let's change that. Drop me a line on email or leave a comment if you have thoughts on God, Jesus, congregations, the church or whatever.... I look forward to our conversations.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Hip-Hop, Jesus Christ, and the Church

A few weeks ago I went to my first ever hip-hop concert...I was the oldest guy in the room of about 600 or so...fortunately, the group Atmosphere (made up of at least two guys in the same decade as me)supplied enough energy for all of us, and I got caught up in the music. After 2 hours of solid rapping and bass bombing, interspersed with really great piano and guitar riffs, the lead singer "Slug" shouted us to us: "Thank you for tonight! Since this is a close to church as I'm ever going to get Let's do one more!" (Or something to that effect...by then my ears were fried.)

And yes, that concert was church not only for Slug, but for all of us...and it was a worthy celebration of young people searching for that beat which will become the cornerstone of their lives..."Church" is often were you find such things, and in that sense this concert was "Church." On the following Sunday morning I found myself in a small, Lutheran church next to the University of Nebraska-Omaha where I was almost the YOUNGEST person in the room...and after an hour of robust hymn singing and contemplative prayer, interspersed with a few readings from the Bible and some good thoughts about God, I had another experience of "Church."

Now the concert and the Sunday morning worship were different in many ways, but similar in one important way--both celebrated being alive, and for the people who are part of each event God gets included in that "alive-ness." But there is one big difference...

The folks who worshiped at the altar of Christianity understand that they worship God all the time, not just when they are at the altar or in the church building. Their hour is spent thanking God for all the blessings of the week, imploring God to be more active in their world, or generally learning to live on this crazy globe...so this hour is one hour to specifically celebrate the other 167 hours of the week. The folks at the Lutheran church didn't need that hour of "church" to find meaning, purpose, energy, inspiration, or love in their lives...they already had that thanks to the God they worshiped on that worning. (this is one of the reasons I detest long worship services...if you're truly Christian you're worshiping all the time anyhow, why waste a good Sunday morning??)

But I wonder about the folks at the hip-hop concert? Will they go back to something completely different as their lives as students or bank tellers or paint salesmen (a friend I went with)? How does the church of hip-hop go from week to week, year to year, cradle to grave? I have no doubt God cares and cherishes for the people at the concert as much as God cares and cherishes for the people at the Lutheran congregation I was with...

The Christian faith worships a God who not only incarnates into history, but also uses that very history to transcend time...Jesus Christ is the name of that story,and in that we are always "in church", always "at worship", always in the presence of God no matter where we are: hip-hop concerts, Sunday morning worship, and all the other venues and times of our lives.

May your tables be full, and your conversations be true.

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