An Anthropologist’s Perspective

By Dr. Vince Gil, Professor of Medical Anthropology at Vanguard University

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In April 2014, the Assemblies of God will be 100 years old!
Over the next 3 issues, we will present a look at our impact as seen by an anthropologist,
a theologian, and a missionary, all Vanguard University professors with a life-time in our fellowship.

 

Vince Gil, Ph.D., Professor of Medical Anthropology, writes this -

From the Hot Springs, Arkansas 1914 days forward, the Assemblies of God ushered in an era of evangelical, Pentecostal communitarianism reminiscent of the church in Acts 15: Men, women, brethren of all races and ethnic profiles feeling that the most important aspect of their ‘community’ was that they were all the same in God’s eyes, all called to be evangelists and indwellers of the Holy Spirit.

To me as a social scientist, one of the A/G’s greatest accomplishments from early on has been the tearing down of ethnic, and in particular gender barriers – from that which existed at the time. A re- definition of ‘eligibility’, first for God’s service, but as well towards and for each other. This change laid a solid foundation for the future: We now have significant numbers of women and ethnic groups as part of the ministerial and servant fellowship. At last count there were 21 Ethnic Fellowships registered nation-wide. On the gender side, however, we still need to see more elected females as Presbyters…

Finally, since this space is limited to a short commentary, I see the Assemblies of God global outreach – its missional component and its now well established trend to cultivate ‘local leadership’ as an important cultural element: Respecting cultures while addressing spiritual and social needs of communities world-wide. This is the backbone of collaborative, socioculturally appropriate evangelism, us doing God’s work together.

 

To explore these issues more fully, contact Dr. Vince Gil at vgil@vanguard.edu

Designing Worship for Men

By Dr. James Melton, Chair of the Department of Music at Vanguard University

 Worship

 

“Dad, what is going on?”  I was with my son in a train station in Germany, and the sound of men singing was almost deafening! It was a group of soldiers celebrating their weekend leave from military duty.  The next day, in another train station, we heard literally thousands of competing soccer fans singing their team’s fight songs at the top of their lungs!  Last year, while ministering in an open church in China, we experienced hundreds of men raising their hands and boldly singing the gospel hymn, “Onward Christian Soldiers!”  It seems that men not singing together heartily today is more of an American cultural phenomenon than a world-wide one.  (Just watch a world cup soccer game and observe the men singing with abandon, Ole-Ole-Ole!)  There is something moving and even “magical” about men singing together!

 

A life-changing, “Aha!” worship moment came for me several years ago during a men’s event at the LA coliseum, as thousands of men sang, “Be Thou My Vision,” and “How Great Thou Art.”  That sound still lingers in my ears!

 

This type of experience is rarely heard or seen in our weekly worship.  More and more, I am hearing from men that they are not singing at all in the contemporary church today.  Potential worshippers stand passively as the band rocks out, stage lights flash, and the lyrics scroll across the screens, but all one can usually hear is the worship leader and amplified instruments (generally backed up vocally by a couple of female vocalists).  What’s up front gets total focus, the congregation is essentially ignored. When the dimmed house lights amid stage lighting dominates the experience, the leaders on “stage” cannot even see the faces of their congregation!  It is sad, though a little amusing, when a leader has to put his hand over his eyes to try and see his own congregation. (It would serve a pastor or worship leader well to get away from the front, and spend a service watching their congregation.  You might be surprised, especially at the low percentage of men singing.)

 

What is wrong? and what will fix it?

1)   They don’t know the songs.  We can focus so much on teaching the latest new song, that the songs of the past (and the saints who’ve gone before us) are overlooked.  I recommend teaching new songs, but slowly and carefully with attention to theology as well as “sing-ability.”  Men want to sing songs they know, those with which they can resonate. You can’t learn and worship at the same time.

2)   They can’t sing the songs. Often our songs are pitched too high for the men (and often the average women) to sing comfortably.  Many songs are taken straight from the latest worship CD or studio to the worship service, and often don’t work practically.  The melody is often in the upper registers, even for tenors, so men that are baritones or basses just “drop out.”  Often, the rhythms may be too difficult for the average guy to pick up as well.

3)   They can’t hear themselves sing. Men like to be part of a team, and a larger experience.  Often, the sound re-enforcement decibel is so powerful they can’t hear their own voices – so they stop singing.

4)   The songs selected (and lyrics projected for all to see) do not fit a masculine mentality. It seems that many of the “hit” worship songs are often feminine in vocabulary, character and tone.  Tender expressions of passionate love for Jesus will generally be sung with more enjoyment and feeling by the women than the men.  Yes, men desire intimacy (and we can always grow in this area), but current modern worship songs display an abundance of intimate language. Women will generally be more comfortable “running to his arms.” Guys can do a little of this, but a little “adoration” goes a long way. It seems a little cliché, but guys generally don’t roll well with, “Jesus is my boy-friend” vocabulary in our songs.

 

So what can be done?

 

1) Pay attention to style and rhythm. Seek to include songs and hymns in worship time that inspire movement, and that men can “march to” or “clap with.” Waltzing and swaying has its place, but God gave man testosterone, and men sometimes want to roar, clap, and stomp a little!

2) Avoid excessive length and repetition.  Endless repetition turns guys off, and the participation factor wanes. Most men instinctively want to start somewhere and end somewhere.  We need a sense of progress, completeness, and logic for going from A to B. For instance, the verses of “Amazing Grace” start with salvation, end in heaven, and look at life in between. Likewise, in the salvation history so apparent and well-written in the Getty’s, “In Christ Alone.”  In contrast, many modern songs are less connected “shotgun” expressions of praise, leaving men less mentally and spiritually involved.

3) Pay attention to vocabulary—We are what we sing! Believe it or not, your men do want to grow in their faith and expression. The vocabulary they proclaim in worship to the King of Kings and Lord of Lords is vitally important. There is a reason the great hymns of our faith have stood the test of time from generation to generation.

4) Spend more time in your deliberate design of worship, and intentionally focus on men. Most worship events have more women than men in attendance, and unless we plan consciously otherwise, we automatically default to what works with the majority. Often, just defaulting to the expected past “norm” will leave many men unengaged. If we plan and lead so as to get guys singing, women will adjust more easily, and will participate as well.

5)   Turn down the volume of your sound system, and seek to sing with a greater variety of accompaniment (Try guitar or keyboard without full band and drums once in a while.)  Let your men (and entire congregation) win the sound battle, being able to hear their own voices, and watch their confidence, and singing become stronger and stronger!

 

Rise up, O men of God! Have done with lesser things;

Give Heart and mind and soul and strength to serve the King of Kings.

Rise up, O men of God! The church for you does wait,

Her strength unequal to her task; Rise up and make her great!”

Hymn by Aaron Williams, 1731-1776

 

 

For further thought and some practical study tools, check out http:churchformen.com, and David Murrow’s short book, “Why Men Hate Going to Church.

 

Contact Dr. James Melton at jmelton@vanguard.edu

Introducing Jon Allbaugh, Dean of Spiritual Formation

allbaugh_260(Editor’s note: I asked Jon to tell us about the way he sees his assignment, and the background he brings to this post.)

Spiritual Formation is the heart of our concern for Vanguard!

First, my top priorities:

  1. Define and articulate how our unique Pentecostal spirituality will be nurtured and passed on in a university setting.
  2. Develop new avenues of partnership between Vanguard, as a university, with local churches and pastors.
  3. Collaborate with the SoCal Network in connecting Vanguard students with Network churches and lay leaders in ministry internships.

 

Why does this matter to me, and what background do I bring to this post?

Born with a heritage of Mid-western circuit riding preachers and church planters, I found my time at Vanguard as being formative in life and ministry. It was at Vanguard where I met my wife. Now our kids attend Vanguard!

Education:

  • B.A. Religion: Pastoral Ministries, Vanguard University
  • B.A. Psychology:  Counseling, Vanguard University
  • M.A. Religion:  Leadership Studies, Vanguard University
  • Presently pursuing PhD. in Organizational Leadership, Regent University

Credentials:

  • Ordained, Southern California Network of the Assemblies of God
  • Ministry Coach Certification:  CoachNet
  • Critical Incident Stress Management

Experience:

  • Associate pastor in Provo, UT, 3 years
  • Lead Pastor in the AG church in San Marcos, 22 years
  • Chaplain of San Diego Sheriff’s Department, 12 years
  • Sectional Presbyter of North San Diego
  • Trustee of Vanguard University

 

We welcome Jon to this critically important post, with our prayers! Contact Jon at jonathan.allbaugh@vanguard.edu, and schedule a visit with him at your church. For his first time as an adult, he has Sundays open!

 

“Tis the Season…” for Reconciliation

Derrick Rosenior, a VU Communication prof, gives practical suggestions for bringing “peace and goodwill” to your world.

girl_dorm_talking_smallThis Christmas season, I’m drawn toward the climax of the angel’s song the night the shepherds were told of the Messiah’s birth.  “… Suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying ‘Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace, goodwill toward men.’” (Luke 2: 13-14, NKJV).

We who were once alienated from God and separated from Him in every way, are now by the “Prince of Peace” reconciled back to God.  Not just to God, but also to one another!

This season can be a difficult time, especially if there has been conflict and discord in a close relationship.  Is there someone in your life with whom you need to reconcile? This is the season for reconciliation!

Here are some basic communication tips for constructive conflict resolution, Apply these, and/or use this list for a teaching time.

Productive Communication

  • Identify your problem and unmet need
  • Engage in active listening
  • Make good use of empathy
  • Make a date: Choose the right time and place (e.g. a private context) to discuss the problem
  • Communicate with respect
  • Describe the problem clearly
  • Use “I” statements. For instance, “I feel ______ when you_______.”
  • Stay in the present
  • Consider the other person’s point of view
  • Focus on relevant issues only

Unproductive Communication

  • Ignoring the problem or not addressing the issue directly
  • Using pseudo-listening or defensive listening
  • Focusing on self
  • Choosing an inappropriate time and place (not over the turkey dinner!)
  • Being disrespectful
  • Being ambiguous
  • Starting statements with “You are_____” or “You always______.”
  • Bringing up the past
  • “Kitchensinking it” – i.e. throwing everything into the argument including the kitchen sink!


During this holiday season, “do your best to live at peace with everyone!” (Romans 12: 18, CEV)

Derrick R. Rosenior, Ph.D., is Associate Professor of Communication, and the Director of The Lewis Wilson Institute for Pentecostal Studies at Vanguard. drosenior@vanguard.edu

A Bad Rap for Pilgrims?

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My wife, Millicent, has over a dozen of the Mayflower Company, the Pilgrims, in her family tree. (Don’t get all that impressed: they now have over 30 million descendants! Those Pilgrims had lots of kids!)

In reading about them, so I could tell our kids about their heritage, I found some fun facts and some inaccurate myths about them, and you might use these in a Thanksgiving teaching.

 

1. Landing on Plymouth Rock? Its earliest mention is 100 years after they landed. It is doubtful they paid any special attention to it.

2. “Pilgrims wore black, and were very serious, against anyone having fun.” We have all heard this. The reality:

  • Pilgrim graves show they dressed normally for their day, including bright colors.
  • Roger Williams, leaving in 1636 to start another colony (Rhode Island) did so partly because in Massachusetts they had too much fun, with parties, races, and games.
  • Probably due to bad water back in England, they drank lots of beer.

3.         The Mayflower Compact, hailed now as the first national charter of a genuine democracy, was simply the way they organized their church life: “congregationally,” with the people choosing leaders and agreeing to follow them (the same way we organize our churches!), now applied to their civic life. Government based on the consent of the governed. (Our “country” came from their “church” model!)

4.         Once the Pilgrims showed they could survive here, other religious dissenters came, not by the ship, but by the convoy! King Charles was glad to see these troublesome evangelical Christians go. It was one of the largest religious migrations in history, and filled New England in short order with young, literate Christian families wanting religious liberty, people about as much like us as any of their day. They didn’t do it perfectly, but they did it well enough for it to succeed, and set the core values for this “best of countries!”

Contact Dave at david.gable@vanguard.edu.

The Student Body President speaks!

ashlee2The president of the SGA (Student Government Association) embodies what Vanguard University is all about.

Ashlee Kildiszew, SGA president, a VU senior, was the speaker at one of the opening Chapel services early last month.

What young woman doesn’t relate to the story of Esther, who rose up to save her people? Ashlee related that story to today’s world as a challenge to those who “have come to the Kingdom for such a time as this.”

In her conclusion, she summarized where VU is now. On one level, she reported, we have a great guy for a new president (“Yay!” from the crowd), and a new soccer field (“Woot, woot!” this time). On another level, reports have come of students being healed physically in a class on Old Testament, and in a prayer time the week before, several students spoke in tongues for the first time.

“There is the possibility of your entering into the life of God here; step into it!” she challenged. What made her remarks all the more powerful was her personal story. She was not raised in a Pentecostal Christian tradition, and all this was new when she came to VU as a freshman. But she asked questions, responded to truth, and consciously decided to follow Christ. Her life has taken a different and wonderful direction. New students can do that now too!

I was imagining some of the saints from Azusa Street, or Needham’s “School of Ministry” visiting Chapel that day. I could picture them being surprised by what students wore! But they would love the worship, and feel at home with Ashlee’s challenge!

A sacred space.

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“I was filled with the Spirit during a prayer meeting in the Men’s Tower while I was a student here,” says the 10th president of Vanguard, Dr. Michael Beals.

“President Kraiss told me just to relax after I had prayed to be baptized in the Spirit a couple weeks before, and it hadn’t happened. Next time, I was filled and spoke in tongues, praise just flooding out of me for a couple hours!”

Vanguard became a place where Mike experienced God’s presence many times and was, in many ways, a “sacred space” where he was discipled. During his days as an undergraduate and graduate student, then as a professor after getting his doctorate in Christian Ethics at Fuller, and eventually to this last year as University Pastor, Mike has seen how God connects with people at VU.

Having learned how to move toward God’s fullness, Mike is committed to seeing VU continue to expand its role in teaching and modeling the Christ-centered, Spirit-empowered life.

He began his term as president here Aug 1, 2013. Read more of his personal story here. A gifted preacher/teacher and veteran pastor, Mike is available for your church, and can be contacted at michael.beals@vanguard.edu.

A perfect mix.

What do you get when you mix Vanguard students and the people of your church? Kelly Kannwischer, Vice President for University Advancement and President of the Vanguard University Foundation, shares how you can connect your congregation and Vanguard students.

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  1. Delivery Boys and Entouräge, Vanguard’s popular camp ministry teams, are back this year. These two groups proclaim the gospel in creative and fun ways that will inspire the youth in your congregations. Contact Kayli Hillebrand in our Outreach department for more information on Delivery Boys and Entouräge visiting your church.
  2. Our music ensembles will be returning in August for their annual music camp. The students enjoy the opportunity to share music and worship in our churches. Contact Tiffany Rogan in our Department of Music to discuss opportunities.
  3. Encourage people in your congregation to visit campus on a Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday morning to join our students for their mid-morning chapel service in Newport Mesa Church. Contact the Spiritual Formation Department for details (Fall schedule will be posted by mid-August).
  4. Vanguard University will be at Youth Convention in San Diego in November – stop by and see us!

Our students are available to bless you and worship with you. And we hope you will play a role in blessing them as well. Vanguard’s mission is to equip students for a Spirit-empowered life of Christ-centered leadership and we cannot fulfill this mission without the partnership of our church family. If you have Vanguard students in your congregations, thank you for caring for them and tending to their spiritual formation. For everyone, please pray regularly for our students that the Spirit will build strong roots and callings in their lives during their college years.

Honoring June Grads

Brenton Fessler, adjunct professor at Vanguard University in the area of Youth Ministry, gives this list of suggestions for honoring that special graduate in your life, in this month’s Beyond VU.
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  1. Buy them a Bible in an easy-to-read translation that includes study notes and/or concordance. Examples would be TNIV, NIV2011, or NLT.
  2. Offer to buy them the most expensive drink at Starbucks they can create. In addition to noting their creativity, you’ll have their attention. Meet armed with info on churches or campus ministries in their new college town. If they’re staying local, let them know how they can stay involved (with a new ministry or group for college students).
  3. Attend their graduation ceremony and/or graduation party. It doesn’t sound all that creative, but your presence and encouragement mean more than you know. Then seek out the parents and family of the grad to let them know you and the church are praying for them.
  4. Make a “college survival kit” and present it to them on the day you honor grads at church. Suggested items to include: some source of caffeine (gift cards or coffee beans), a ream of paper (to print all those assignments & papers), scented room air freshener, granola bars, trail mix, reusable water bottle, gas card, gum, movie tickets, iTunes gift cards.
  5. Pray for them. Again, this is not an earth-shattering, ground-breaking idea. But we, as pastors, know the power and impact it can have.
  • Pray for them in church the week before or after graduation.
  • Pray for grads the Sunday before they leave for school. Let them know that in their leaving (or staying) they remain a part of the church’s community.
  • Then, sometime in late October or early November (when the pressure is at its highest because of workload and homesickness has set it in), send them a note to tell them you’ve been praying. This can definitely be a Facebook message or a text message, but there’s nothing quite like letting your prayer marinate with richness by sending a card in the mail with a stamp on it.

Email Brenton and connect with him personally, contact him at brenton.fessler@vanguard.edu

Reflections on a Diagnosis I Never Wanted to Hear

This month’s contribution comes from Roger Heuser, Ph.D., Professor of Leadership Studies at Vanguard University:

Late on a Tuesday afternoon, while reviewing my lecture notes for an evening class, I received a call from the doctor who had recently removed a cyst from my arm. He told me that a second pathology report from UCLA was “interesting and challenging.” It was lymphoma.

My immediate prayer exposed my denial, “O God, let this be a mistaken pathologist’s report!” At a later date I heard the hematologist say the words, “Stage four.” Cancer has been rare in my family, so there were other medical conditions one might expect with my gene pool – but not cancer. I had no preparation for a reaction.

My wife Gayle and I had established a healthy habit for nearly twenty years — we maintain a “daily office” every morning with coffee, prayer, scripture reading, silence, conversation, and walking. Two practices we’ve added to our morning ritual in the last year are anointing with oil (or a massage), and reciting a prayer by 16th century St Ignatius, Anima Christi (Soul of Christ).

BeyondVU-May-2013-560x560We prayed, as we always have prayed, for openness to divine healing and the daily grace of faith, hope, and love from the almighty, loving God who desires to share good gifts with us.

I have had no symptoms or treatment since the lymphoma was discovered in November, 2011. Yet, after five PET/CT scans, the radiologist noted in January that the “decreasing metabolic activity … probably represents treated lymphoma.”

Growing up in a Pentecostal minister’s family that has experienced a number of healings, I still have much to learn about being treated by the Divine Physician. I also have much to learn from my wife about becoming a soul friend who companions another on a challenging journey.

I submit this with gratitude for each day, and for the days to come!

Roger Heuser, Ph.D. is Professor of Leadership Studies at Vanguard University, specializing in leadership studies, spirituality, and practical theology. Contact Dr. Heuser at rheuser@vanguard.edu