|An Interview: David Hopkins
Questions presented by Fred Peatross on Tuesday, June 25, 2002
David Hopkins is the editor-in-chief for Next-Wave, one of the best content magazine on the Internet.
David recently graduated from Texas A&M University at Commerce with a degree in English and Philosophy. His graduating thesis was the first of its kind at Texas A&M. A Treatise Of The God Of Mystery And Truth.
David is currently the community pastor at Axxess, an emerging congregation within Pantego Bible Church. He is a gifted writer with a long list of credits to his name. A few of his articles are "Consumer-Friendly Postmodern Cool," "Ask Constantine, and "Control Alt Delete: Rebooting The Purpose Driven Church."
1) Attempting to become seeker sensitive, many congregations have tweaked and in some cases completely revamped their worship assemblies. One outcome for many of these churches is disgruntled members voting with their feet. Instead of growing they end up with a loss of both members and resources. Yet some churches make the changes and fair well. And then there are the traditional churches who do just fine (some even grow) with their outdated worship and ministry models. What are your thoughts on all this?
Good question! My wife's grandparents had a similar dilemma at their church. But instead of focusing on the church's philosophy or vision, they focused on HOW the church service was run. They figured if they got "newer" praise music, they'd be okay. Not so. They forgot who they were.
My thoughts on this issue have always been rather cliche: "To thine own self be true." You be you. If you're not postmodern, then don't fake it. Someone will respect you more if they see you're being genuine to your own experience. If you dig hymns, then bust out the hymns! I believe the postmodern transition will be a natural transition. No wars. It's like the shifting seasons, it will happen, because God is moving.
Now someone might ask: "Well, how then, do we 'reach' those pesky postmodern kids?" I'd say: be loving, be hospitable, be accepting, be genuine. Be a friend. You may be 85 and love that organ music, but I'll
stand right next to you-- if I know I'm loved.
2) Do you know any congregations doing internet ministry well? Who are they and exactly what are they effectively doing?
Brian McLaren's community Cedar Ridge has a good church site. The Mars Hill website has an awesome message board. I think Deliverance Bible Church has very good site. They all look so friendly! (And they are!)
Internet ministry is a strange thing. Andrew Careaga is The Man when it comes to this stuff.
I'm currently reading *The Cluetrain Manifesto*. It's a book about business, but I think many of the principles apply to church community and internet ministry. It's about creating conversation. Good ministries (whether online or off) are all about creating healthy conversation and meeting people. The internet ministry should connect with real life and real time experiences and gatherings.
Personal pet peeve: I hate hate hate hate it when church websites have freakin' MODELS posing as their church members. If you're going to have "church members" on your site, suck it up and use your actual church members.
3) How can we begin to instill a creative atmosphere in our assemblies?
Instill? Good word. I don't know how to instill ANYTHING! (insert laughter here) Just kidding. You just asked a really difficult question for me.... uh, hmmm, I don't know. But I'll throw out some ideas.
Our gatherings should not be these polished performances. They are gatherings. We should be open to mistakes and experimentation. I'm fortunate. My congregation has always been very forgiving with me when I try new things. And I try new things frequently.
Creativity is about mixing stuff up. Trying new things. Creativity for the sake of being impressed with your own creativity is kinda silly. Creativity should be a natural desire that arises from what we love. If we love God, we should want to be "creative" in the way we tell God we love Him. Creation is an inherently loving activity. To be creative is to be genuine in our love.
4) Considering that art is a movement from the right brain to the left brain (the side of the brain that analyzes truth); what role should aesthetics play in worship?
Aesthetics is (to quote my Oxford Dictionary of Philosophy) "the study of feelings, concepts, and judgements arising from our appreciation of the arts or the wider class of objects considered moving, or beautiful, or sublime."
With this definition, I'd consider "Religion" to be a sub-category of
"Aesthetics." God is moving, beautiful, and quite sublime. Aesthetics is also my favorite area of philosophic study. What is beautiful? Worship needs to be an aesthetic endevour... FIRST AND FOREMOST. I don't mean: "Get more flowers for the altar." I mean, worshipping God is an aesthetics.
With the previous generation, the enemy was the "lies" of liberal theology and other theological agendas. God is dead, etc. So pastors raised their Bibles high and said, "God is Truth. God is Truth. God is Truth." If you understand THIS, you will be a Christian.
However with my generation, the enemy is the "ugliness" of conservative agendas and other fundamental intolerance. So the pastors of my generation seem to emphasize, "God is Beautiful. God is Beautiful. God is Beautiful." If you understand THIS, you will be a Christian.
When reading the scriptures, I'm amazed at the connections between goodness and beauty.
5) The majority of my readers come out of the Restoration Movement (Church of Christ, Christian Church, and Disciples of Christ) and most are not familiar with Next-Wave.org. Could you give us a little history and then describe the purpose and vision of Next-Wave Magazine?
Actually, I did not start next-wave.org. Charlie Wear and Rogier Bos put the web magazine together about four(?) years ago. I started writing for them regularly. Rogier left to plant a church in Holland (good man). I offered to take over the magazine in his absense. Charlie was brave and agreed.
We will openly admit the design of our site is mediocre (neither Charlie nor myself are web-geniuses). I still have trouble updated the site each month! However, we have some great writers. Our content is top notch-- good ideas and literally hundreds of article available to read.
What is next-wave about? It is a magazine on church and culture. We try ask the difficult questions on what it means to be a faith community in our current time with our current generation. The writers are all from different backgrounds with different ideas. As the editor, I don't do a lot
of "editing". I let the writers speak their mind. People disagree sometimes. Believe me, I get a lot of interesting e-mail. I think the process is an important one. Even moreso, I hope readers begin to take an honest look at what is going on around them.
Ultimately, I want Father God to be glorified in what I do. I want to participate in His Kingdom work. I want to be faithful to the teachings of Jesus. The Internet and the work I do on the Internet only matters if it connects with real people in a real world.
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