Sunday, February 22, 2004

Gleanings from Pub Culture

The other day at Prov, in our "Worldview & Culture" class, our prof was doing his weekly routine of playing some ethnic music in the background during our class discussion times. Often, it's been some really cool African traditional music which is absolutely beautiful in its richness and funkiness. 

This week, the CD that was playing was... the Celtic band that I play in (!). It was slightly surreal to hear the same songs that I had performed just the evening before in a pub, being played in a seminary classroom.

There were some questions asked of me during our breaks, wondering how you go about being a Christian witness in a band that basically plays songs that could be summed up as "drink and fight and drink and fight and drink and fight some more".

Here's some of the things I've learned over the years of playing in secular bands, on and off, since I was 19. (I'm 42 now -- you do the math):
  1. Be slow to speak and quick to listen to their stories before you try to interject your own (James 1:19-20). "Earn the right to be heard" was George Mercado's way of saying it. If you wonder how I'd apply the "slow to get angry" part of James 1:19-20, see the next point.

  2. If you choose to follow Jesus' example and be a "friend of sinners" (Matthew 11:19), don't be surprised when you see and hear things that might normally offend you. Getting past being easily shocked, without hardening our hearts, is the skill that needs mastering here. Jesus went out of His way to be gracious and merciful to the woman caught in the act of adultery (John 8:3-11) -- surely we can learn to do the same in our contexts.

  3. Lot gets a great deal of bad press because of the whole Sodom & Gommorah deal, but St. Peter recounts a different side of Lot: a righteous man whose soul was grieved by the evil around him (2 Peter 2:7-9). Yes, our souls at times may be grieved, almost overwhelmed at times, but we need to commit ourselves to not retreat into the false "safety" of a Christian ghetto.

  4. Missionaries have often spent years sowing seeds before seeing results; in our fast-food-drive-thru mentality of ministry, we often give up if we don't see "results" in a relatively short time. Get used to a journey (process) that requires time.

  5. Since the emphasis today is on "conversation", the seeds that get planted are almost never sown in a linear, point-by-point fashion. The seeds land haphazardly here and there, because in a conversation, topics bounce all over the place. But the seeds do land, and some will take root (Matthew 13:18-23). Relax. Don't jump on every "opportunity" as if it's your last, and try to shove people or conversations to a pre-programmed conclusion. The journey allows for many "little sowings".

  6. Jesus asked more questions than He answered. Try reading through the Gospels and noting the number of times Jesus answered a question with another question. We need to learn the art of asking good, honest (non-manipulative) questions.
One last important part of the equation: pray tons. Pray for the individuals that you have regular contact with (the band members and their spouses/significant others, in my case). Pray for spiritual protection and wisdom/discernment for yourself before you go. Pray a cleansing prayer after you come out. Keep praying like the widow in Luke 18:1-8, and see what God does.

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