Monthly Archives: July 2020

Building Bridges 2 Michael Moses Interview PGE18

As I say in the interview, I am always thankful for those who open me to new insights and possibilities, especially as those insights and possibilities relate to my faith and enable me more fully to experience God, even if the terms they/she/he use(s) are not the same as mine. Judaism and Christianity have always been influenced/shaped by and borrowed concepts, ideas, and practices from other peoples, creatively adopting and adapting those things, sometimes even transforming them into something new.

Jesus, in his Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5:45 says that God makes God’s sun to rise and gives rain to us all. For me that is one of the ways of God expressing God’s love for us all. In loving us all, God has given us each and all something to share with each other and together. So, part of what this podcast seeks to do is to build caring and opened bridges between those of us who are Christians and others to listen and find ways to share together ideas, practices, and experiences that make the world better and edify us all. Doing so seems to be a very Christian practice to me, although Christians are not the only ones who do such practices, as you will learn from this interview.

A person in my life who has opened me to new insights and possibilities in a loving and caring way is Michael Moses. I came to know Michael during my efforts at initiating the Institute for Christianity and the Arts at Palm Beach Atlantic College. In exploring the art form of liturgical dance, I developed a relationship with one of the dance instructors at the college. She was working with Michael in having him play percussion for rehearsals and performances. Realizing the connection with my interests, she introduced me to Michael. After getting to know him, he became a regular guest in both my Christianity and the Arts  and Worship courses that I offered.

Michael’s heritage is Jewish and he lives in and through that heritage, but his own spiritual journey and experiences have led him to seek a broader, more inclusive spirituality. He says that he is guided by his personal trinity of an inclusive spirituality, the love of the arts, and the love of and care for the planet and its environment.

One of the opening things for me is that Michael has chosen to explore his spirituality especially through sound and rhythm. His concepts of the limitation of music, the importance of silence following a performance, the use of words with no meaning, and the ability of instrumental music to allow people to bring and connect with their own spirituality are wonderful insights that provide new possibilities for worship and communication.

Below are links to learn more about Michael and his work:

For those that want to hear more of the music from KABU.
(feel free to download music if you would like)

To hear Carolyn Forche’s piece in full (16 minutes).

This link is a music video Michael produced for a friend’s song called Johnny Spirit….
It’s a young man’s search for self and spirit.
This is a link to Michael’s  Bio and background.

The music for this episode is from a clip of a song called ‘Father Let Your Kingdom Come’ which is found on The Porter’s Gate Worship Project Work Songs album and is used by permission by The Porter’s Gate Worship Project. You can learn more about the album and the Worship Project at

Chris Backert Fresh Expressions Interview PGE 17

The challenge of Christianity and Christian churches in the United States and Europe is that traditional churches and denominational organizations are struggling. The gap between growth of the population as a whole and the number of those identifying themselves as Christians is increasing. In addition, attendance in ‘traditional’ denominational churches has been on the decline for over two decades. Hundreds of churches each year are closing. The result of the decline has created strain on denominational agencies. Since individual church budgets have declined because of the decline in attendance, denominational organizations, dependent upon church budgets, greatly have had to reduce their own staff, ministry, and budgets. These declines and closings are happening across the denominational and theological spectrum. As the other-than-Christian population continues to outdistance the Christian population, there is a rise in the numbers of those identifying themselves as the ‘nones,’ meaning that they do not identify with any organized religious group. ‘Spiritual’ but not ‘religious’ is a common expression of identity.

What does all of this mean for Christianity and for churches and denominations in the United States? How is God moving and leading during this time? What are we as Christians and churches supposed to do and to be in the context of these challenges? These are the sorts of questions to which we all, as Christians, are seeking to find answers. Consequently, there is, in an ironic way, or maybe even in a divinely providential way, a shared (dare I say ‘united’) conversation going on among us across the Christian spectrum.

Some, like Stanley Hauerwas, make the case that as Christianity and the Church become less connected to, disentangled from, and disassociated with the dominant culture and politics of the nation, the better able they are to be more truly Christian the church, since the dominant culture and politics of a nation is always corrupting.

Others, in seeing every problem and challenge as also an opportunity, envision, with eagerness, the possibility of the flourishing of new creativity within and from churches and Christian organizations. There is great deal of experimentation taking place. One such effort is Fresh Expressions. It is an effort that began in England, but has also taken root here in the United States.

My guest is Dr. Chris Backert, who is the National Director of Fresh Expressions US. In addition to his role as National Director of Fresh Expressions US, he serves with the Baptist General Association of Virginia in the area of growth and venture development. He also serves as National Director for both Ecclesia, a US network of missional churches, as well as Missio Alliance. Previously, he served as pastor of New Life Christian Fellowship, a large university congregation in Blacksburg, Virginia and has been involved in the planting of three new congregations. Chris holds a D.Min. in Missional Church Leadership from Fuller Theological Seminary.

You can learn more about Fresh Expressions, Chris, and his work at the Fresh Expressions’ website:

In addition, an excellent book that gives a thorough understanding of this creative effort and how it is done is: From the Steeple to the Street: Innovating Mission and Ministry through Fresh Expressions of the Church by Dr. Travis Collins who is Fresh Expressions’ Director of Mission Advancement and Southeast Regional Coordinator.

The music for this episode is from a clip of a song called ‘Father Let Your Kingdom Come’ which is found on The Porter’s Gate Worship Project Work Songs album and is used by permission by The Porter’s Gate Worship Project. You can learn more about the album and the Worship Project at