Foursquare Leader Magazine Feature

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.

Advertisements
Posted in Foursquare, Gospel, Ministry, Music, Worship | Tagged , , , | 6 Comments

Repost – Broken and Repaired

BROKEN AND REPAIRED
BY TIM HUGHES  7 SEP 2010

Worship has the power to both heal and break us. It’s a strange but glorious paradox. As the Bishop of Oxford, John Pritchard writes, “Worship is the moment when we’re both broken open and repaired at the same time.”

Life throws at us a mix of joy and pain. We might be celebrating new jobs, new life and new relationships, whilst at the same time experiencing great loss, deep doubts and huge anxiety. It never seems to be one or the other. I’ve heard it helpfully described as parallel train tracks – running down one track is blessing, favour, laughter and joy – whilst running down the other parallel track is pain, sorrow and despair. As Paul describes in 2 Corinthians we are a people who are ‘sorrowful, yet always rejoicing.’ (2 Cor 6:10)

When I prepare to lead worship I often find myself asking the question – ‘how do you lead a congregation in a journey of worship, when every person is starting from a very different point?’ I think of my church, last Sunday as I led I was aware of a couple recently celebrating their engagement, a friend thriving in a new job. At the same time I thought of parents I know agonizing over their children, a friend desperately struggling to financially make ends meet. How do we hold all this together? What is the key to our role as worship leaders? Ultimately it’s simple – we lead people to Jesus. Great music will in itself never bring deep comfort and healing to people in distress. Only Jesus will. Clever mood lighting will never lift the spirits of someone at rock bottom. Only Jesus will.

As we lead worship we remind people that there is more to life than money, health and success. Through the songs and the words we sing, we point people to Jesus. It begs the question – do our songs fill people with hope? Are they focused on Christ – words that communicate the character and nature of the God who saves, the God who takes away the sins of the world, and the God for whom nothing is impossible? It’s as we feed people’s minds with the truth that people begin the process of being repaired. We worship a Father who rejoices over us with singing and is mighty to save (Zeph 3:17), a Saviour who is able to sympathize with our pain (Heb 4:15) and the Spirit of God who gives life (John 6:63). In God’s presence we are slowly, moment-by-moment, day-by-day, put back together again.

But this journey of healing only starts when people are brave enough to be broken. If we don’t allow ourselves to be broken, we will never be ‘repaired.’ It is essential in our worship that we lead and serve with compassion, sensitivity and vulnerability. Worship is not about a show, a hyped response of emotion. Worship comes from deep within – a raw cry acknowledging that Jesus is Lord and that we are not! As worship leaders how are you allowing space for people to express their questions and pain? Do our lyrics allow opportunity for people to acknowledge frailty? I love the line in the song, ‘Mighty to Save,’

“Take me as you find me, all my fears and failure.”

It’s so healthy to be able to sing that to God in the company of others. Musically are we allowing time for people to reflect on the state of their hearts? If everything is pumping the whole time we can miss out on space for people to search their hearts.

There can be lots of pressures on us as worship leaders. So many practical things that are important to invest in, but to grow in our calling and responsibility we need to firstly allow ourselves to be broken before God. Are you seeking God in the hidden place? Are you admitting your fear and insecurities in what you do? If you’ve become confident and complacent as a worship leader, if you can’t remember the last time you found yourself worshipping alone in your room, then may I humbly suggest you’re missing something. Perhaps you need to reconnect with God – allow yourself to be broken and vulnerable. Be bold – take a risk. Only then will we lead times of worship that allow people to be both broken open before God and repaired at the same time.

Posted in Worship | 2 Comments

Thom Yorke helps Patrick Dempsey Dance

I have been under the weather this week, I needed something to make me smile. This worked.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

King of Limbs

They never cease to amaze me…new album out today for download.  excited am i. http://www.kingoflimbs.com

Posted in Music | Leave a comment

We Can’t Walk Straight

From a recent NPR: morning edition article –

“Try this: Put a blindfold on someone, take them to a park or a beach or a meadow and ask them to walk for as long as they can in a straight line. Then watch what happens…”

Human beings have the profound inability to walk in a straight line when blindfolded or with no focal point of reference…

Why? No one knows.

But it reminded me of a verse in scripture about blindness.

Matthew 15:14 Leave them; they are blind guides. If the blind lead the blind, both will fall into a pit.”

Jesus was talking about the Pharisees; the teachers of the law.  The most educated, religious, highly admired men in that culture in that day.  And he says they are blind, when did they become blind?  When did they start missing it, and how could they lead so many people down that wrong path?  They were blind and didn’t even know that they couldn’t see.  When we try to walk straight and we can’t see we don’t end up where we are trying to go.  This is true in physical walking and this is true in our spiritual journey.

We need our eyes opened

Ephesians 1:18-19
18″ I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you will know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints,19 and what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe…”

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

New Series/Book “The Prodigal God”

GENERATE, a young adult group that I run, has been in a new series created by pastor/author Timothy Keller called “The Prodigal God.” I can’t tell you how much that I have personally enjoyed this focus. It is based on the very famous parable of the lost sons found in Luke 15:11-32. The book, as well as the messages, does a great job at redefining lostness. Timothy makes the claim that you not only can alienate yourself from God by being really, really bad (the younger son) but also by being really, really good (the elder brother). The two brothers in this story are both separated from the Father, they don’t want anything to do with their Dad, they only want his things (inheritance).

This focus has really opened the door to talking about what is truly the good news of Jesus Christ (the gospel), and what Jesus really meant. And how often we relate to the younger brother but ignore the elder brother in the story. The parable was intended to say to everyone in the audience that everything that you have known about relating to God, about your meaning in life, about how you approach everything is wrong.

I am sure that I will be sharing more as we continue our series. I thought this may be a good way to break the ice from my virtually non-existent blog.

Sorry Charlie, I love you man.

Check out more here: http://prodigalgod.zondervan.com/
Buy the book here: http://www.amazon.com/Prodigal-God-Recovering-Heart-Christian/dp/0525950796

Posted in Gospel | Leave a comment

Hello Blog, It’s Been Too Long

Hello Blog,

You have become my friend who I haven’t called in so long that I feel guilty to call them. So I don’t. I’m a crappy friend and obviously it’s true about you too.

So I’m breaking the ice. Sorry blog, I’ve been busy. I value you and feel like you and me have something going. So can we have a fresh start? Let’s get together later this week. And let’s shoot for a weekly time together after that. Your important and I haven’t given you the time you deserve.

See you soon,
J

P.S. I saw this at Fry’s yesterday and was enthralled.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment