How To “Be Church” Online

Church is a community, not a building. We’re about relationship, not religion. Our social media tools are not just a means of getting you information – they’re a way for you to interact with each other.

What exactly is it that makes Real Life special – a church people are so willing to invite others to and serve at? The people! Real Life people care deeply about each other: we value celebrating, inviting, all the good stuff on our wall.

And why do we care so much? Because we know a God who loves us and gives us grace, second chances, freedom, and so much more. That’s why we invite and celebrate together and why we want to get more people in our life to come check us out.

So how do we extend that community to our social media? If we know and see how Jesus changes lives, why not share that encouragement online?

Here are a few ways to start:

  1. Share a Worship Wednesday or a Wider Worship (our new column featuring Christian artists making out-of-the-box worship music). Below every post, it says “Share This” and gives some options. Click Twitter or Facebook to share the post on your account.
  2. Share our Lent images or Bible verses off Instagram. Apps like Repost let you share on Instagram. Or, click the three dots in the top right of every post and click “Copy Share URL” to share on Facebook, in an email, etc.
  3. Invite someone to an event through Facebook. Want someone to experience our worship? Invite them to the next Worship Gathering using Facebook! Just mouse over “Share” and click “Invite Friends.”
  4. Share on Facebook! Pretty much everything we post on here or on Instagram appears on the Facebook, along with invitational videos, events, and lots more! Just click “Share” on a post that strikes your fancy, and either send it to someone specifically or post it to your wall.

In all cases, remember the crucial relational component: be sure to write something personal on the things you share so your friends know what you got out of it. Remember anything you share or post is more than just church news or a pretty picture – it’s an invitation to meet Christ!

Laura wears a lot of hats at Real Life: social media coordinator, outreach coordinator, retreat planner, and editor at large. Luckily she looks good in hats.

Wider Worship: Indie & Modern Rock

Welcome a special monthly edition of Worship Wednesday! Contrary to what Christian radio might make you think, there’s a wide variety of worship music out there, in every genre imaginable. Our worship team and staff have put their music-loving heads together to come up with a series of posts featuring a new genre of worship music every month! See one of your favorite musicians in RIYL (Recommended If You Like)? Recognize a favorite song from Sunday mornings? Check out a new band! We hope something strikes your fancy and injects your everyday music listening with a little more worship.

This month, let’s explore…

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Dustin Kensrue is perhaps best known as the front man for the million-selling post-hardcore band Thrice, who have been making melodic heavy alternative rock since 1998. As a solo artist, Kensrue released a Christmas album and several Americana and acoustic-based albums, as well as a few worship-centric rock albums (namely, The Water & The Blood, and the Grace Alone EP) which can also be found under the band name “The Modern Post,” his worship band based out of Mars Hill Orange County. The music is melodic and catchy, while the rhythms are propulsive and engaging. Most significantly, though, is the theologically rich lyrical depth of Kensrue’s worship songs.

Live drums, 80s synths and modern rock guitars & vocals swirl together to make a juicy melange of heartfelt electro-rock goodness in Lovelite’s four albums. Comprised of the husband/wife duo Andrew and Jen Polfer (along with an array of other live musicians), their lyrics convey biblical truth about Jesus and our relationship with God while managing to avoid clichés, both lyrically and musically. There’s a feeling of genuine joy and wonder in their songs, heightened by the surprising musical turns they take, whether it’s the occasional half-time break or dropped beat for a bridge, or incorporating a wholly distinct musical motif for an outro or second bridge of a song.

Loud Harp play somber shoe-gazey guitar rock with yearning, raspy vocals from Asher Seevinck, akin to Peter Gabriel. His musical partner Dave Wilton provides additional guitar and shares in the songwriting. Their combined guitars provide a gauzy, spacious atmosphere and melodic environment without overpowering the earnest lyrics. Their album Asaph is a meditation on the Psalms, and it’s genuinely moving post-rock worship. Their self-titled debut album is less thematic but still a strong collection of both ambient and straightforward worship songs, and it’s all truly lovely stuff.

King’s Kaleidoscope is a ten-piece band that does hymns and original songs in a hip-hop-inspired, jazz-fusion style, with a brass section, woodwinds, fiddle, and more. Originally from Mars Hill Church, they released their fourth EP, Live In Color, and their debut LP, Becoming Who We Are, in 2014. They describe their style as “designed chaos” and their lyrics are heartfelt and prayerful. (Perhaps too heartfelt in one instance: they attracted some controversy with their 2016 song “A Prayer,” which lead singer Chad Gardner lifted straight from his journal, swear words and all. Spotify only has the explicit version; you may prefer the edited version, which still retains the heartrending emotion of the original.)

Nashville-based singer/songwriter Jeremy Casella has been touring the world with his songs for nearly 20 years. He gained recognition on a large scale after some collaborations with Phil Keaggy about 10 years ago.  While his songs are rooted in acoustic guitar, a wide array of pop and rock influences can be heard throughout his multiple albums. He can seamlessly integrate hip-hop beats with piano and orchestra then deftly switch to fingerpicked guitar or wiry electric lead lines. His latest album, Death in Reverse, is focused on the theme of resurrection, both Christ’s and ours, and all that means for us today on earth. Drawing on inspiration from George MacDonald, N.T. Wright, the lyrics are highly poetic and symbolic on songs like “The Old Cinder of a Burnt out World” and “Night Vision.”

The Gray Havens is husband/wife duo David and Licia Radford. They offer gorgeous folk ballads with storytelling lyrics and complex, varied acoustic instrumentation – plus a little 90s-tastic synth, just in case. They use familiar imagery (a train station, hunting for buried treasure, colorful flowers) to illustrate salvation and Jesus’ life.

  • RIYL: Noah and the Whale, Mika, The Decembrists, Of Monsters and Men, allegory like the Narnia books or Lord of the Rings
  • Laura Suggests:Gray Flowers,” the whole Ghost of a King album but “This My Soul,” “Ghost of a King” and “At Last The King” in particula

Got a related band or favorite song to recommend? Share in the comments!

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Our Times Are Changing!

IMG_1265At Real Life, we always want to be open to how God moves. We always want to allow room for Him to work. He has certainly been growing Real Life over the past few years – we’ve even purchased new chairs to make room for the 250+ people who attend each Sunday – but our growth continues. With that in mind, we are changing our service times!

Beginning with Easter Sunday, April 16, Sunday services will be at 9:00 and 10:30am. Changing times allows us to create space for a third service, if and when it’s needed. Until then, this move will help us make room for everyone who wants to worship at Real Life!

Please be sure to mark your calendars, reset your alarms, etc. to make sure you don’t miss the change! Thank you for being patient during this time of growth. We’re so excited to see God continue to move and work at Real Life!

What The Beats Can Teach Christians About The Voice of God

Gary Snyder is a lot of things.  One of them is a poet of the Beat generation.  He broke all of the stereotypes for that wild movement in the mid-50s: a counter-cultural group of frustrated youth raging against the confines of the “Leave it to Beaver” lifestyle track.  While most of his ilk were pounding New York and San Francisco streets in broken-soled loafers and secondhand sports jackets (the cheesy, black-beret image began sullying the waters in the early sixties and there is little reality to it), he tromped on the scene in logging boots and rough flannel straight out of the High Cascade range.  He was equally adept as a trail builder, logger (choke setter), high mountain fire lookout, merchant mariner, and mountain climber as he was a Berkeley professor, Japanese academic scholar, and environmental activist.  He is a seeker.  Arguably, he is a seeker of enlightenment.  Here’s one of my favorite poems of his:

Mid-August at Sourdough Lookout by Gary Snyder

Down Valley a smoke haze
Three days heat, after five days rain
Pitch glows on the fir cones
Across the rocks and meadows
Swarms of new flies.

I can not remember things I once
A few friends, but they are in cities.
Drinking cold snow-water from a tin cup
Looking down for miles
Through high still air.

To seek enlightenment is to seek a new perspective on life that must ultimately elicit positive change.  That search has to be both intentional and have embedded checks and balances.  As Christians, our intention is to be more Christ-like as we drive down Highway 14, pick up our living room, enjoy time at Heathen Brewing, and talk with co-workers.  We have to invite God into our consciousness as we work and play and do all the little things that make life go.

Our checks and balances are three-fold: the Bible, our prayer life with God, and our like-minded community.  If one of these things is out of joint in our search for enlightenment, we run the risk of spiraling into self-involved spiritual lunacy.  A buddy of mine spoke of some “seekers”  his friend witnessed while working as a pilot in India.  He saw many who were searching for enlightenment, but their search never produced any demonstrable change in heart or behavior in either themselves or those around them.  If there is no change, then what’s the point?

Gary Snyder traveled the high country of the world to seek enlightenment and experience.  He came back transformed and began changing the world around him for good through his writing, teaching, and environmentalism.  We can’t all be poets or professors, but we have the abilities God gave us, and we have the Holy Spirit to help us do the good will of the Father.  Our intent is to be more Christ-like and we, as Christians, live our lives in search of this enlightened state.  We make sure we are on the right path by reading the Bible, praying with our God, and talking with like-minded (and otherwise) people around us.  Based on what we find in our search for enlightenment, our hearts and our actions are ultimately changed.

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