What 1000 Foo Fighters’ fans can teach the church

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In a field in Italy 1000 rockers struck a chord. A man had a vision, he wanted the Foo Fighters to come and play in his town. So he raised some money, appealed for fellow fans and got them together. Singers, guitarists, bassists, and drummers gathered to sing Learn to Fly together.#

There’s one line, in the bridge if I’ve got my musical lingo correct, that goes: “Fly along with me, I can’t quite make it alone”. Sung by a thousand people who have come together for the very reason of not wanting to sing it alone, it has a certain unrestrained resonance.

At the end the guy behind it all stood in the middle of the throng of musicians to say:

“I guess that this video is going to be seen by a huge, a huge amount of people all over the world, but to be true it has been conceived to be addressed to just five people: Chris, Pat, Nate, Taylor and Dave Grohl, the Foo Fighters. You know, Italy is a country when dreams cannot easily come true, but it’s a land of passion and of creativity, so what we did, and here is just a huge miracle, I’ve been working on this project for more than one year, waking up every morning thinking about how to make it real and this is all that we’ve got. 1000 people, 1000 rockers, that came from all over the nation at their own expense and they did it for one song, your song. So our call is to ask you, the Foo Fighters, to come and play for us, to come and play and give a concert to all of us in Cesena, what I’m asking right now is to make some noise for the Foo Fighters, come on!”

There are old rockers, young kids, there are men and women, those whose hair makes them stand out as it stands on end, others that are a little larger than life. There’s a crazy man who looks a bit like Steve Coogan conducting the whole thing.

There are 1000 people with one thing in mind, one thing which has brought together an eclectic bunch to sing with passion. They may have only been singing to five men in America, but after a few days over 18 million have viewed the official video. The world has watched a bunch of people singing like crazy to get the attention of their favourite band.

And this got me thinking about the big Christian summer festivals. There’s an element of rock concert about them sometimes, but I think this kind of event is a more like what we should be aiming for. Three reasons why:

1. It’s not about the band on the stage

Okay, so the point of their singing is that they want a band on stage, but the marvel of the video is that 1000 people like you and me got together to sing and play together: the audience became the band. There are probably a lot of videos of the Foo Fighters singing Learn to Fly but I doubt any of them has as many views as this one. What’s special is that this is about each and every one of the 1000. I doubt whether many, if any, of the bands playing at big festivals want to make it about themselves, but sometimes it can feel like the focal point of our worship are the men and women on stage. Our singing can be more like fans at a rock concert.

2. They’re singing with a purpose

There is a reason behind their singing, it’s not just for fun, nor is it for their own fame, their singing has a purpose. When we come together to worship we sing with a purpose. When we sing it places passion in the words which might otherwise be dry phrases or truths we know and accept but don’t always fully own. When we sing, something about them comes alive.

But singing is not about just reciting words to music, especially not when we are worshipping God. Our worship is a speech act, our songs do something more than repeat truths or create a positive atmosphere. When we call on God to act, he does. When we cry out for God’s kingdom to come a little more of it does. Without wanting to get too eschatological, I believe that God’s kingdom has come, is coming, and will come. When we follow in Jesus’ words, praying or singing ‘Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven’, we are calling out for a little more of God’s rule and reign to be evident in the world around us. 1000 rockers wanted the Foo Fighters to come to their town in Italy, when we worship we call out for God to come to our world in our day.

3. They’re bringing our own gifts and talents and using them for that cause

The music from 1000 singers, guitarists, bassists and drummers sounded pretty good to me. I don’t possess many musical abilities – perhaps the sole one being a willingness to sing quite loudly (which, on reflection, is perhaps not a gift to those stood next to me in church). The 1000 men, women and children in a field in Italy brought their talents, they brought their instruments, they paid their fare and plugged what they had into what I can only imagine is a monumental PA system.

When we join together with thousands of others singing in worship to God are we reliant on the talents and abilities of the people on stage, or are we offering what we have?

Last week @God_loves_women wrote a blog on supermarket Christianity, and I think if we’re not careful big conferences and festivals can play into this tendency, that we go for an annual top up and we become dependent on what other people provide. At the other end of the spectrum is the danger of detaching ourselves from other believers, and becoming too focused on nurturing our own faith that we become isolated and the very faith we hoped to build ends up atrophying. Other people are essential to the development, sustenance and overflow of our faith.

I’m not going to any conferences this summer – it’s the first time in quite a few years. From people who have been at New Wine and Focus I’ve heard good things, to those who are going to others, I hope you learn, worship and grow. I have found that as I’ve gone to more events it’s become more about the people I’m with and the time in between the meetings than what’s said and done in the big tent – as valuable as that may be.

Having organised a very small conference a few weeks ago, the same was true. We organised content for the people taking part, but hearing the feedback from those who came reminded me that the programme may be what brings people together but it’s frequently not the most important thing.

I probably remember a handful of talks each year and over time maybe half a dozen that are really important to my ongoing walk of faith. There is a place for consuming. There are times when we need to receive. But we receive in order to go out, we take in in order to give out.

The irony of the Foo Fighers’ fans endeavour is that it wasn’t by accident that 1000 fans came together. This isn’t Field Of Dreams. It took someone’s vision and passion and incredibly hard work to make it happen. The things that bring us together and encourage us to act together are usually especially challenging, and there’s a significant lesson of leadership there. But that’s probably a topic for another day.

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One thought on “What 1000 Foo Fighters’ fans can teach the church

  1. Blessings to you in the mighty name of our Dear Lord Jesus Christ.

    Please forgive me, for I know this is the most inappropriate means of connecting with you…but this is the avenue I could find.

    First of all, I want thank God for your life and the awesome work He is doing through you on Broken Cameras!

    To Him alone be all the GLORY!

    My name is Tim and I am the founder of the newly unveiled Christian Social Media/Community known as: Rhemalog

    If I may crave your indulgence, I will quickly like to intimate you on our purpose, goals and objectives.

    The name Rhemalog is a compound word, coined from both “Rhema” and “Log”.
    It means, putting into writing(Log), your encounters in the Word of God(Rhema).
    That is, sharing with the beloved, the things that God has shown unto you in His Word.

    Rhemalog was established by the leading of the Holy Spirit, as a platform to enrich and impact the body of Christ all over the World!

    You will agree with me that there is a lot of degradation going on.
    Abuse, spiritual contaminations, mental pollutions and attacks on our faith.

    All you need is to refresh your social-media pages long enough…then boom!
    There you have it, in your face!
    But.
    Wouldnt it be awesome to have a sanctified environment?

    A platform built solely for the Children of God.
    Devoid of negativity around us, but filled with inspirations, encouragements and above all, the WORD OF GOD!

    A breath of fresh air. Family friendly, conducive, loving and embracing.

    Your own family of fellow brethren, encouraging, building, cheering on and strengthening each other on a daily basis!

    This is our driving force.
    The clarion call that moved us to put Rhemalog in place.

    And this is our call to you: Would you like to join us?

    As one of the (Christian) thinkers and opinion-makers out there, logically, it is a no-brainer that we need you, especially since our main goal is to ensure that the people are well fed.

    We need your insightful thoughts. Inspirational ideas. Well written pieces. We need YOU!

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    And we already have all the tools required.

    – Personal Blogging feature
    – Video sharing
    – Community pages (think facebook pages)
    – Timelines and profiles
    – Pictures, etc

    Together, we can build one of the most vibrant and impact-full communities out there.

    Should you decide to join us now:

    – Your personal blog and info will be shared on our social media pages (with over 67,000 members)

    – As an early adopter, you will be a part of a huge and influential community at its infant stage.

    – Your community page will be featured, if you create one. Meaning, it will come up first in searches and views (with its own cute ribbon)

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    Well, “gold and silver” we have not.
    But can you help us be a blessing to the children of God out there?

    The address of the website is:

    rhemalog dot com (No need to create an unsolicited backlink!)

    It will be a huge honour and we will be waiting for you.

    The first step is to be registered. Duration of your submissions will be totally up to you. To keep up though, we would suggest you begin by sharing the links to your blog posts, later on, you can start doing reblogs or creating unique postings using our blog feature.

    However, in-between, we would love your quips, wits, quotes and words of wisdom, posted on your homepage timeline. We consider these to be quick tonic for the soul…snacks for those in hurried need of inspiration and motivations.

    Whichever option you choose, we cannot wait to have a drink from the fountain of your God-given wisdom.

    Thanks and may God continually keep His face shining on you.

    Yours in Christ,

    Tim (Rhemalog Community)

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