A very important project to me that I’m currently working on:
My church (the Gathering Church, Durham, NC) is beginning work on a full-length record of Christian hymns re-spun by our rotating casts of musicians and special guests. I realize that we’re in trying economic times, but I can truly testify that this project is no less than mission-critical to who our church is, where we are going, what we’re called to be.
Our three emphases (by no means innovative) at the Gathering Church are presence before God, connection to one another in community, and engagement with the world. The hymns that we’re getting our hands on are even less novel than the worship our Church hopes to share in. In a lot of ways we’ve come to realize that looking back is our best way forward, and that old idioms can nourish our devotion in surprising ways. This record of reworked songs will serves as a worship/devotional companion, hopefully successful in both clinging to old stories of gospel-fidelity while jarring loose the corrosion that comes with familiarity.
You may ask, if this is so critical, why didn’t it make it even make a line item in the church budget? By using innovative fund-raising techniques like www.kickstarter.com (sometimes referred to as “crowd-sourcing”) we hope to generate and renew an important culture of artistic patronage within our local community (inside and alongside of the church). Understanding the vitality and gratuity of such endeavors pairs with my understanding of the gospel of grace that these songs sound.
These songs “make sense” within our community. By that I mean, all of the songs we’ll commit to production have been integral to our Sunday worship at some point. They all have concrete connections to our particular community. These memories span child dedications, Holy Week services, kids’ devotions, baptisms, communion, and of course, ordinary time. They train us in a new way to speak to each other. They anticipate the choruses we’ll belt when we’re granted true union with Christ and one another.
But these songs aren’t only “ours.” We’ve also found that they are disarmingly accessible to even the most hardened cynic. Their melodies and content have a mysterious ability to bring people into a space of exploration and participation in the worship of the Triune God. These mere tunes profess a profound confidence in the creativity and redemption of the Holy Spirit at work in the world.
Finally, my hope is that my excitement about this project be evident and that you’ll consider partnering in some way with this undertaking, even as you are already an invaluable partner in the Gospel of God in Christ Jesus.
Here are streams for some of the guest artists to be featured, for your enjoyment: