CollECtively lifting up the name of Jesus through exuberant praise!


Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Christmas report... glad tidings!

We had a Christmas party at Dan Lundsford's house on December 10th.  The atmosphere was thick with joy and camaraderie as we gathered to celebrate what the Lord has done this year with the choir, and at the Plus for the Christmas concert the night before.  Gloria Godchaux, our board president, called everyone to the Kitchen.  She was about to give me one of the best gifts - hearing what the Lord has done in people through the Choir.  As we pop-corned through the circle, we heard many touching testimonies, and would pause to pray for individuals, and to affirm others.  One of the veterans went around the room hugging each person and sharing whatever words the Holy Spirit gave her for building each person up.  I know there is power in the Spirit of God, and that when we set to knowing the Lord more in community through praise, thanksgiving, and other prayer- the Lord does mighty things - but when I heard the practical truth of the matter I was very touched and humbled.  Stories of the transformative power of God's love, stories of deliverance, of victory in daily living, of redemption, restoration and healing.  One young gal shared "When I came to rehearsal, I knew you guys were loving me for who I was and that I didn't have to wear a mask like I do for all of my "friends."  Another gal shared with me how her daughter was able to see her experience true, sober joy at the Christmas concert at the Plus- a testament to the work of Jesus.  We noticed that there were many things that we didn't pray for, but that God just did.  In all, there is a not a doubt that as we "CollECtively proclaim Jesus through exuberant praise," the inner transformation for individuals is immense, and this bonafide-ly bubbles out when we proclaim Jesus together in public.

The Lord's blessings to you and yours this Christmas and Holiday season.
Prayer requests:
-Pray as we take a break for 2 Mondays that the choir members would keep their fervency in praise and thanksgiving to God!
-Pray that the Lord would build new, transformative bridges as we invite Eau Claire to join the choir for the MLK day commemoration on January 21st.  Pray that the Lord would use the Choir as a tool of reconciliation and trust building in our community among those who feel like outsiders, and between people of different appearances.
-Let us thank God for all of the provision, partnership and help He has provided this year - and for the provision, partnership and help He will provide for this ministry in 2019!

grace and peace,


Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Where is the Love?

I thank the Lord for hearing and answering my prayers over the last few years according to his will - to be able to put a fuller shoulder into the work of the gospel through the CollECtive choir - things that I instinctively knew needed to be tended to, but haven't had the capacity to tend to until now.  I am so excited for this Christmas concert on Sunday, because of the time I have been given to invest in individuals - meeting for coaching, encouragement, and prayer for anyone in the choir presenting.  This concert does not merely represent rehearsed material, but increased expectation of God's transformative power, increased boldness for the redeemed to "Say so"(Psalm 107), and a unique display of love for our great God and for each other, as we share the 'good tidings of great joy' for all people.  Please join us this Sunday, Dec. 9th, 7-9pm at the Plus in downtown Eau Claire for a wonderful, free celebration of God's love! 
We also invite any of you to join us at our year-end potluck celebration at one of our members homes on Monday, Dec. 10th from 6-8pm.  2225 Henry Ave. Eau Claire.  Bring a dish to pass as we celebrate and recount what the Lord has done this year through our Choir community, and meet some of the members.  If you feel inspired (as I do), wear a Christmas sweater:)

  • We had another connective and encouraging event with the Hope Gospel Mission celebration dinner on the 30th. God is building some strong ties that are strengthening both communities. 
  • We have reached 63% of our $15,000 one-time donation Goal for 2019, and 25% of our $4,300 monthly donation goal so far! Grants are being instigated as well. We thank God for his provision and care.
  • That the Lord would open ears and eyes this weekend to see and hear the glad tidings of comfort and joy that we have in Jesus. Pray for meekness to receive by faith that gift of new life. 
  • For the Holy Spirit to draw people to the Plus on the 9th to hear of the hope of Salvation and experience a community that is filled with the Joy of the Lord. Pray for the Lord to draw in the weary, the abandoned and marginalized, the hurt, and those with longing hearts. 
  • Pray for the choir for servant hearts as we enter into the Pizza plus venue, that God’s oneness and love might be displayed, and all logistical details would be worked out graciously.
Here are some videos that recap our vision that we are now using to share with the public about the work of the choir (I included Sherry's interview from the last post because of some re-linking with our Youtube Channel)

Friday, November 23, 2018

2 stories

As we round the corner from our national pause of Thanksgiving, I have two stories to share that are great examples of what God has been doing around this missional music community.  The first starts at acoustic cafe with a lunch meeting with a friend.  The young man's name, who we will call 'J' for now, was sitting by the window.  I noticed him before lunch, during lunch, and after lunch.  The Holy Spirit wouldn't let me not notice him.  On his phone killing time, heavy coat, a few bags, occasional glimpsing the room from under his hood.  After lunch, I engaged - and he invited me to sit.  We talked about music, what it was like to be homeless for him right now, and we set up a jam date - at a little spot I like to call "The Jam" (a band set up at the Lighthouse).  He showed up 2 minutes early, and we got to it - I taught him some blues grooves on the bass, and we jammed, talking intermittently.  I told him that the Holy Spirit had prompted me to talk to him at Acoustic, and he confessed that at that very point, he was wondering if he was invisible to the world.  He said that he believed in a higher power, but not sure if he/it cared about him.  So I shared my story, and why I put my hope in Jesus, and the gospel.  He was very interactive and engaged as I shared.  At some point, he collected his things and said he needed to go on a walk to think about some things.

The 2nd story, I will let Sherry tell herself:
We currently have 35 singers in this rehearsal run!  A good problem to have, as we find seating for everyone.
The CollECtive Choir at our rehearsal location, the Lighthouse Youth Center Downtown Eau Claire, Early November 2018.
Please pray:
-For 'J', that God would lead him in the Way of His salvation
-For others, like Sherry who are needing to experience the authentic love of Christ.
-For our two Christmas events - Nov. 30th at Hope Gospel Mission, and December 9th at the Plus (7pm), that the Lord would open eyes and ears to His truth and glory through Jesus as we proclaim Him.
-For the Church, that we might be keenly aware of the stranger, the outsider, the foreigner living among us, and be the ones to cross the boundary and invite them.
-For more social walls to be torn down at 'The Jam' and for open roads to the sharing of the Gospel.

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

The 'let-go'

The CollECtive Choir rehearses at the Lighthouse at 310 E Madison Street in Eau Claire on Monday nights, and is open to all.
Alongside the regular work of the choir and support raising, there are a couple of significant bench marks and highlights over the last few weeks with our journey in the CollECtive choir.  Much of which has to do with "positioning."  I was reminded in God's word this week, "I cry to God Most High, to God who fulfills His purpose for me." - Ps. 57:2, and "All our steps are ordered by the Lord; how then can we understand our own ways?" - Prov. 20:24.  I am comforted that even on the road less traveled by, or uncharted waters, God's purpose is being fulfilled - whether on a new career venture, or simply at a concert or at the grocery store, our steps are ordered by God!  Lord, help us to stay on point!
     -October 15th marked the end of my transitional support from Peace church.  This is particularly exciting because this is where God shows His best work - when we are in need!  We currently have 22% ongoing support raised, aside from various one time donations.
The Collective choir rehearses monday night at the Lighthouse Youth Center in Eau Claire, WI     -October 22nd we began our big Christmas run, and the team is stoked!  Getting to know new music and new members, and continuing to reach out to other community members, churches, and bystanders to join the choir family as we prepare for a big community concert on the 9th of December.
     -October 26th sang at the Community Table and connected with a few new folks.  I had dinner with a nice gentleman who wanted to find work and connect with his family again.  He plays saxophone, and showed me a song on the keyboard.  He is a believer.  We subsequently were told by the administration we could not play anymore unless we encompassed other faith's.  We are praying that God opens other doors in the downtown and transient community to proclaim Jesus!
     -October 27th marks the end of my 8 and 1/2 year entrepreneurial entertainment venture - the Shillelagh lads.  Though a fun hobby and substantial stop-gap in our families finances, the Lads are being jettisoned to be able to devote my best to the Choir.  While bitter sweet, we had a wonderful celebration concert at the Heyde Center in CF, Jesus was glorified, and I was able to share with fans about why I was ending it (obedience to God/the CollECtive Choir).  This is the last of my other musical "Irons in the fire", and I am excited to be 100% focussed on the work of the Choir in the last part of the year.  We are praying that God would inspire and connect people to the work we are doing downtown through the aftermath of this endeavor.

How can I be praying for you?  mike@collECtivechoir.org, 715.894.0272
Much love,

Friday, October 12, 2018

From the end of July to the middle of August, and at sporadic times throughout the last two months, I have been fixated on Psalm 16.  NRSV states "The Lord is my chosen portion and my cup; you hold my lot...I keep the Lord always before me; because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved."  What's more, during that time, one of the Youth band members at Peace bought me this mug.  I love it when God does that - speaking to us in multiple, blatant ways!  It is as if he is saying, "I am here.  Trust in me."  In June, when the Peace church leadership, Chris and myself decided to transition me out of my position at Peace Church and launch me into this self-supported venture, I knew this step of faith would be "sanctifying" and bring Chris and I through the purging crucible of faith.  Thank Jesus - it has proven nothing short of that!  It is like the burn of a good work out, knowing that in the end you will be better suited for the tasks at hand.  My prayer for us all is that we might truly take refuge in the Lord, and keep him always before us as we walk out our calling in Christ.

In the past few weeks I have been balancing community support raising with the ongoing fall work - strengthening some of our community connections with the Lighthouse Youth Center, Hope Gospel Mission, Ekklesia Church and Peace Church.  I also did some preliminary connecting with the Eau Claire Academy to see if that would be a plausible ministry touch point for the Choir's music ministry. 

Now in the upcoming few weeks, I continue to reach out to our Christian community for support, trusting that the Lord will bring along those who are supposed to walk alongside us.  We will be visiting Community Table, Ruth House, and the Lighthouse.  We also are doing the leg-work for our upcoming Christmas rehearsal run.  These runs are concerted efforts to collaborate with members from local churches, as well as reach out to the disconnected, the outsiders, and the unchurched.  We pray that the Lord would use us as a stepping stone for folks into deeper spiritual formation in the community of God.  Our Christmas concert is Dec. 9th at The Plus, downtown EC, but the process itself is gold.

Things we would like you to join us in praying for:
-That through our members' purposeful availability and invitation, the Lord would gather the outsiders, the lost, the despised and the lonely in our city. 
-That our confidence and reliance would be in God's power, and the power of the Gospel and not our own.
-For the Love of Christ to grow even more in our assemblies
-For God's perfect provision, and for individuals who have the capacity to aid the process of connecting support from area churches, businesses and saints.

What can we be in prayer about for you?  email me with 'prayer request' in the subject line.  mike@collECtivechoir.org

grace and peace!

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

30 degrees

Hello Friends!  The Choir is taking every opportunity we can to build bridges into diverse parts of the community, including the University.  Thanks to our connections with a faithful sister in Christ at UWEC, we now are approved as a service learning organization.  What does this mean?  It means that university students now have extra incentive to get involved with their community outside of the campus - including the Choir.  Our prayer is to connect with students each semester through the service learning mentorships - and to not only give them an experience appropriate to their major of study (be it administration, business, music, marketing, etc.), but for them to experience a missional art community changed by the love of Jesus.  Please pray with us for successful connections to students, and a bridge into the university, to augment the kingdom efforts happening there!

The CollECtive Choir performs at the Hope Gospel Mission Celebration Dinner, held at Grace Baptist Church in Lake Hallie Wi. Our singers represents a smaller group of our choir.
(Connecting with students on UWEC for service learning last Monday.

Singing at the Tandem Cookout Monday Night
The CollECtive Choir connecting Monday night at Carson Park with a partner ministry, Tandem- a Christ-based youth mentorship program.30 degrees fahrenheit after the campus fair on Monday, the Choir connected with a partner organization, Tandem, which is a Christ-based youth mentorship program.  We sang as people gathered at Carson park for their year kickoff cookout.  We wish to keep strong ties with Tandem, and eventually be a weekly activity for some of the Mentors/Mentees to participate with as they connect together.  Either way, we see it fitting to encourage such Kingdom-advancing organizations in the valley.  Please pray for more and more lives to be coached in Christ!

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Blessed Community: Terry and La La

The late Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. spoke many times about "blessed community."  Community is a beautiful blessing - and is strength - like the two that are much better than one, or the chord of three strands that isn't easily broken (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12).  God has called his people together as a body, with different gifts and contributions - but the same Lord!  The CollECtive Choir recognizes our vital contribution in the Eau Claire community, but we also recognize our need for what the other ministries bring to the table, and work with them regularly.  One of these partner ministries is the Hope Gospel Mission.  Hope Gospel Mission rebuilds lives of individuals who are stuck in addiction and destructive habits through the gospel of Jesus Christ.  They provide a voluntary 12-18 month residency for individuals who desire to retrain their minds and hearts in the word of God, and learn practical skills and values that will help them succeed as they step out again on their own.  The structure, accountability, and partnership with local churches is extensive.  Where the CollECtive Choir steps in, is that we provide an extra touch-point in christian community each week for residents to dig in with - participating in praise ministry alongside other saints, and being encouraged in their christian walk through the extra prayer and love that is exuded in the choir.  We have had 9 Hope Gospel Mission residents sing in the Choir, and a few of them that have stepped away from the program have continued to connect in the CollECtive choir. 
Terry has sang with the choir for 18 months now, and though he works currently on Monday nights, he is actively involved in the performances and stays connected.  He just graduated this last Friday at August's celebration dinner, a monthly celebration gathering to celebrate the progress of the residents at Hope Gospel Mission.  The Choir has provided exuberant praise music for many of these celebrations.  Terry sang his solo that he has been diligently working on.  I have met together with him a couple times to help him rehearse and encourage him.
LaTonya, or "La La" as she is called, is another resident who just celebrated the passing of phase 2 - the most difficult phase in the program- where God does extensive surgery on the hearts of people.  Though she has not sang with the choir at rehearsals, she often joins us at the celebration dinners, and has always been enthusiastic when the choir comes.  I recently was able to help arrange music for her song- a testimony of what God has done in her life.  The recording you are about to listen to is from my phone, which I took into the studio and added tracks to.  We intend to re-record the song at a later date.  Helping people find their voice and celebrate Christ in them is a part of what we do.

Please continue to pray for the residents at Hope Gospel Mission, that they would build strong ties with the Christian community around them, grasp the hope that we have in Christ, and be empowered and equipped for the work of the ministry.