It has been a long time since I have posted, and I apologize to all 3 of you who read this blog. I was featured in the Foursquare Leader magazine this month, my article got cut a little short so I thought I would post the full thing here, so here it is:
Preferred Name: Jason Dionne
Church job title: Worship Pastor
Church Name: The Bridge
Church City and State: El Segundo, CA
Tell us about yourself in 100 words or less:
My wife Kelli and I live in El Segundo, CA with our three children: Gavin (6), Isaac (3), Noelle (10 months). I enjoy long walks on the beach and watching sunsets. My favorite color is fuchsia and I can eat Mexican food every meal of every day for the rest of my life. I am passionate about leading people into the presence of God through worship in such a way where their lives are transformed by His glory (2 Cor 3:18). I have served at The Bridge for four years, ministering in various areas but primarily as the worship pastor. I enjoy mentoring other worship leaders and worship team members and seeing them shine in the gift that God has given them.
What has been one of your greatest recent accomplishments in ministry?
Kelli still being married to me after 11 years and supporting and serving my 3 amazing kids. 🙂
About a year ago our church moved from meeting in an A-frame 100 person sanctuary with twenty pews to the local high school’s performing arts center. The church changed their name of more than 75 years from El Segundo Foursquare Church to The Bridge. This was a major transition for us and being part of it has been one of the most challenging but also most rewarding experiences I have had in ministry. Since we began meeting at the high school the average attendance of our weekly gatherings has grown more than 30 % and the church has seen more new people from the community than we ever have in the history of this church. New people means a chance to see the fruit of the gospel; a transformed life. Also meeting in a performing arts center has expanded our ability to creatively communicate the good news of Jesus through music, drama, dance, art, and illustrative practical sermons. I hope to see more and more people come to know Jesus as we are “the Bridge” connecting faith & community.
How are you involved outside of your church, perhaps as it relates to worship or music?
I have had the opportunity to lead many (I lose count) camps and retreats. I love the atmosphere at camp, especially for youth. When young people get away from their environment and are immersed with the power and presence of God, when they hear the truth of His Word, and they respond to His love, lives are forever changed.
On another note (no pun intended!), I have been able to perform fun, live music for parties thrown by friends from our church. You may ask, how can playing rock and roll at a party lead anyone to Jesus? It has been such a great relational connecting point, because it naturally opens up dialog about what I do for a living and in the course of the conversation can invite people to church and/or share God’s heart about music.
Any words of encouragement or inspiration for other worship leaders or aspiring musicians in Foursquare, whether in a church on Sunday morning or serving outside of the church in a musical capacity?
Worship leaders stay humble. Humility should be a characteristic of any Christian and especially a Christian leader. Jesus said “For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Mark 10:45) Jesus was pretty clear to His disciples how they were to lead, by serving. There is something scary that can happen to us if we don’t stay grounded and surrendered to God, we start believing that our gift is better or greater than another member’s gifting.
There is a tension in leading the musical expression of worship: the art and the heart.
The art is the creativity/skill/talent it takes to perform and sing worship songs. The bible says to play skillfully before the Lord, God anointed skilled artisans and craftsmen to build the Ark of the Covenant and the Tent of Meeting. So two things when it comes to art: A. if you can’t play/sing with some skill: don’t. It’s not your gifting, and if you really want it to be then you need to check your heart as why you want to sing and perform. B. When it comes to art, you never arrive. There is always room for improvement and growth. Continue to excel in your abilities and gifting. Invest in the talent that the Lord has entrusted you with. Learn new songs, take music lessons and/or voice lessons, learn a new instrument, write songs for your local church, cultivate a culture of creativity in the church for the glory of God.
The heart is your passion and desire to love Jesus with everything you are; to enjoy communion with Him through the expressions of worship. The heart doesn’t need to be in front of people to worship Jesus, doesn’t need to be leading people to be loving Jesus. In my opinion, a well-cultivated heart of worship is directly related to one’s capacity and effectiveness in leading worship. Intimacy with Jesus increases the anointing from Jesus. I believe it was Graham Kendrick who said, “Worship leading is publicly modeling what we have been doing privately all week.” The heart is more important than the art of worship.
Our western culture, obsessed with celebrity, can often elevate people to a higher place of fame than ever should be done. Especially as someone who plays and performs music, we are already elevated physically by standing on a stage with lights on us as we are singing and playing music with a rock band behind us. We need to be aware of the potential downfalls of this setting for us. Be more concerned about how to connect people to God in their context than playing the latest greatest worship tune that has that super sweet guitar riff and 10 minutes of ‘Whoas.’ What is the demographic of the people your leading? What is the heart cry of the community right now? How is God revealing Himself and His kingdom to His people right now? What biblical themes are we hearing from the sermons and vision of the church? How do we honor the heritage and history of the Christian church and at the same time bringing fresh expressions of age old truths?
Remember it is not about you. It is about Jesus, reflect His goodness and glory and point any attention that is placed upon you back to Him. That’s the job of a worship leader.
If you have recorded an album or written a book, what is the title and publisher/record label:
I have an acoustic ep out on iTunes called Created Anew and is self published and released on battlehawk records. It includes seven songs that I have written over the years for the local church.
I hope to record a full band album this year of original worship songs.