Jul 22 2015

How Do We Save Quakerism?

Are your Meeting’s numbers dwindling? Do you worry that there won’t be a “next” generation to pass Quakerism on to?
You aren’t alone. As I’ve traveled the country visiting different kinds of Quaker Meetings, I’ve noticed that many Quaker Meetings are holding a similar, underlying anxiety: what’s next?

Of course there are Meetings that don’t fit this categorization, but if you are one of those Friends who holds a concern for the future of the Religious Society of Friends, read on.

Step 1: Ask Ourselves, “What Are We Trying to Save?”

As someone who gets most excited about Quakerism when I think about the Early Friends, I believe that the litmus test for whether we have life is the fire and Spirit that motivated the emergence of the Quaker movement.

Not our finances. Not numbers or attendance.

So what are we trying to save? Is it our Meetinghouses? Our institutions? Our annual gatherings? Our Quaker employment?

Or are we concerned about God’s vision for the world and the Quaker contribution to making it real?

Step 2: Hone Our Quaker Superpowers

mary-dyer-quaker-statueThere are reasons that we know the names of specific Quakers in history; it’s not just hero worship.

Early Friends understood that the Spirit manifests powerfully in individual gifts, and the usefulness of a structure is the extent to which it helps individuals to cultivate, ground, and set free their personal ministries.

I just love the image of Elias Hicks coming to town and everyone in town – not just the Quakers – gathering to hear this powerful minister preach. Whatever that looks like today, I know it can happen again.

Our ministries used to draw crowds.  And they can again.

Our ministries used to draw crowds. And they can again.

Step 3: Get the Circulatory System Running Again.

As I’ve been talking with Friends about the concept of ministry, one analogy has struck me: ministers are our circulatory system. When a Friend who is on fire with the power of the Spirit comes to our Meeting, we are given oxygen. We are given life.

What does a body look like without a circulatory system?


…but it doesn’t have to be that way. Quakers have a historically strong practice of identifying, training, and releasing ministers. We know how to get the circulatory system running again. And it’s not too late to bring it back.

Step 4: Support the Friends Who Are Already Working On This.

I have been blessed to help support the birth of the Releasing Ministry Alliance, which aims to get the blood flowing again in the Religious Society of Friends. This project is literally a dream come true for me.

I hope you’ll take a moment to wach this video:

As Lola says in the video above, this resource is past due. You can’t imagine how much I wish it was around when I was seeking support for my last project. It is high time that Friends found a way to use the internet to explore new kinds of life in our ministries.

Over the past several years, I have seen Viv and Lola approaching the hard work of launching this resource with tireless dedication and faithfulness. I trust them to do it right.

I hope that you’ll join me in supporting them to get this essential project off the ground.

May 26 2015

New Music: Goodbye, Drums

The bad news is that I’m losing the drums. The good news is that I’m moving into an apartment where I’ll have a dedicated music space. But not with drums. So this is farewell.

Jun 4 2014

Can Self-Promotion Be Spirit-Led?

Give over thine own willing; give over thine own running; give over thine own desiring to know, or to be any thing

-Isaac Pennington full quote

As Quakers, we make this fundamental, unshakeable distinction: God’s will. My will.

If we are to do the will of God, we must first let go of our own striving, our own willing. And if we are to give over our own willing, how could it ever be in good order for us to reach out for something as vain and creaturely as celebrity?

I wrote this post as a part of QVS’ synchroblog on Quakers and new media. See what other bloggers had to say here.

The Allure of Attention

I am familiar with the allure of acting out my void in public. I want the attention. I want to be seen. I want to be known. I am afraid of being passed over.



Everything in this culture tells us that celebrity is a great way to do that. Celebrities say that they hate the attention of the tabloids, of the public. That its invasive. But do we really believe them?

They are lifted up. And admired. And safe. In a way that most of us are not.

In a culture that teaches us to strive to be happy, isn’t that the ultimate?

Love and Social Media

Social media gives us unprecedented access to this kind of attention.


So we’re skeptical as Friends, when we see blatant self-promotion. We’re skeptical when someone says, “go read my blog!” “Check out my website!” “Put me in the spotlight!” And we’re skeptical for a good reason. We see the emphasis of these phrases as being on “me“, “my“.

But this striving for perfect humbleness can easily become dogmatic. We can come to reject anything that looks remotely like attention-seeking, and we miss God’s message in it.


Read also: “Bum-Rush the Internet!” (an article I wrote for Friends Journal)

After Enlightenment: Chop Wood, Carry Water

I made my own mistakes with dogmatic rejection of self-promotion, when my own process came unexpectedly full circle in 2006.

In 2004 I laid down my music career, which I saw as primarily self-serving. I released one last secular album and put away my guitar.

Two years later, when I felt called back into engagement with music, but this time as a ministry, I was surprised to find that the tools for lifting up a ministry looked surprisingly similar to those of seeking personal fame. If anything, it felt like God was calling me to involve myself in more so-called “self-promotional” behavior. I was now the steward of this art. If I didn’t lift it up, no one else would.

When I first received the call to do this work, my core values were offended. Hadn’t I already rejected the part of myself that strives for public attention? I was so attached to my humbleness that I refused to “self-promote”. Ironically, it was my pride and self-will that got in the way of my calling to publicize this ministry.

It wasn’t until I was so certain that this was part of good stewardship of this message – until it was painfully clear that this was my job and no one else’s – that I was able to move into an experiment with “self-promotion”… as something that God could call me to.

This was a clear part of the calling for me. That God wanted people to see it. That God wanted people to hear it and experience what God had created through me. That it was egotistical and selfish of me to just create it, and not do the good work of shouting it out from the rooftops.

So I started shouting. I got onto Twitter and made a Facebook page and did photoshoots. Most of the time I was doing these things, I felt embarrassed, vain, and silly. I often had to remind myself that it wasn’t about me, regardless of appearance.

"The spotlight" is often a really humbling and dangerous place to be, in my experience.

The spotlight is often a really humbling and dangerous place to be, in my experience.

Looking back, my experiment with self-promotion has paid off. Thousands of people from all over the world have heard this music through my YouTube channel, my bandcamp page, and my Facebook page. None of that would have happened if I hadn’t swallowed my pride and self-promoted. I feel it has been the faithful thing to do.

How to Be Humble
(in the Digital Age)

In the age of social media, I would argue that we are all self-promoters. We are all choosing what story to publicize about ourselves (and what stories not to).

In this new environment of constant self-publicizing, I would suggest that the question has moved from if we are self-promoting to why we are self-promoting. Social media can just as easily be a megaphone for spirit-led ministry as it can for our creaturely-attention seeking. What is it that you are publicizing? What do you plan to do with the attention?

I am lucky enough to be out of the spotlight, for the moment. My new job of directing the QuakerSpeak YouTube Channel allows me to shine that spotlight on the ministries of other Friends, and mostly to remain safely behind the curtain.

But I still post on Facebook and Twitter. I still have a YouTube channel. And I still ask myself, every time I post:

  • What is my primary motivation in posting this?
  • Is it faithful for me to post this?
  • Is this post from me or is from God?
  • What do I plan to do with the attention generated by this post? Will I enjoy it for myself or allow it to be a service to doing God’s work in the world?

And once I feel clear on those questions, I ask these:

  • Am I holding back because I’m worried about how I will be perceived?
  • How can I make this bolder and more accessible? How can I reach more people with this message that has come from God?

Mar 22 2015

New Music: The Moon Doesn’t Sleep

I got some drum mics and I made something pretty.

Mar 3 2015

Announcing… Season 2! (QuakerSpeak Lives On!)

Dear Friends,

It’s been a big three months! Since I wrote my last post about the YouTube Channel that I work on, and how I’ve been working with Friends Journal to find the resources needed to create a second season, I have heard from so many of you about how the project has touched you or your Meeting. Thank you for those beautiful and inspiring messages, and thank you to everyone who ordered a DVD and/or contributed to a Season 2!

I continue to feel that this is Spirit-led work, and your messages have helped to affirm that I am being well-used.

So now, thanks to your support, and thanks to two new partnerships with Quaker organizations who are out in the world doing important work (FCNL and AFSC), I am pleased to report that there will be a Season 2 of QuakerSpeak!!!

…and it is almost upon us! This Thursday, tune in to our YouTube channel for the first video of Season 2 and subscribe to get a new QuakerSpeak video in your inbox every Thursday for the next 9 months!

As always, you can find our most popular videos here and search through our archives here.

Thank you, congratulations, and go team! Now back to work in the editing room! See you Thursday!! :)


Feb 13 2015

New Instrumental: Loch Ness Truthicorn

Got some drums in my studio. Still working on my Ableton skills. I have no idea why this track is named Loch Ness Truthicorn.

Feb 6 2015

Moses Brown Quaker School Goes Big With “Let It Go” Parody Video

Last week Moses Brown went big with their school closing announcement, and made a video that now has over 30 million views. My conversation with the head of school.

Dec 17 2014

New Instrumental: Don’t Give Up

Something I recorded over the weekend.

Dec 6 2014

New Instrumental: Success It’s Good

All the guitars! Artwork by Us and We Art

Nov 22 2014

What’s Next for QuakerSpeak?

UPDATE #2: Season 2 is on!

UPDATE #1: Since we first heard that we didn’t get our funding for a second year, I have spoken with the folks at Friends Journal and they are confident that they want to keep me on for a season 2, and while we’re not totally clear on the details of how that will happen, it seems like things are moving in the right direction.

And if you are interested in helping make a season 2 happen, there is a way for you to help! Just go to QuakerSpeak.com/DVD and pre-order our new DVD… you’ll have the option to put in a little extra to help support season 2. Thanks to everyone who commented on this post, you gave me some Light in a moment where it was obscured! So much gratitude. With grace, there are enough folks like you out there that want to see another year of QuakerSpeak!

Original Post:

So QuakerSpeak‘s funding didn’t get renewed for a second year.

Without getting too much into the dynamics of the funding organization, I’ll just say that I am not too surprised, but I am disappointed. Most folks I talk to seem to feel like the project has been wildly successful in its first year.

So what comes next? I’m not sure yet.

Here is what I do know: it was a leading for me to do this project. I know that my carrying this one piece fits into the larger symphony which is carrying us all toward… world peace, the kingdom, however you want to name it. And I’m supposed to continue carrying it.

So while I know that I intend to do a Season 2, I don’t quite know what that looks like yet. If I am to be supported in doing this work, that support has to come from somewhere.

On Monday I will meet with staff at Friends Journal to decide whether the project can continue to be housed there and if so, where support for it might come from.

I would appreciate your prayers in this time.

Nov 7 2014

Quaker War Tax Resistance

Quaker War Tax Resistance: In 1994, Joseph Olejak stopped paying taxes. Find out why, and what his Quaker Meeting did when it landed him in jail.

Oct 23 2014

What is a “Gathered” Quaker Meeting for Worship?

What are Quakers trying to achieve when sitting together in silence? A Gathered Meeting for Worship is a particularly powerful experience.

Oct 16 2014

Are Quakers Racist?

Does racism exist in the Religious Society of Friends?

This week, we talk with Vanessa Julye, the author of “Fit for Freedom, Not For Friendship” and the coordinator of Friends General Conference’s Ministry on Racism.

Oct 12 2014

Quaker Pacifism Isn’t Just Anti-Violence

Quakers aren’t just anti-violence. Much of our work is in fact pro-healing. John Calvi, a renowned Quaker healer talks about why healing work is so incredibly essential.

Oct 2 2014


Every Thursday I collaborate with Friends Journal on a video about Quakers for the Quaker Speak video project. Here is our most recent:

Never miss a QuakerSpeak video! Subscribe.

Oct 2 2014

Quakers Believe That War is Not the Answer

Diane Randall of Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL) in Washington, DC talks about Quakers and Nonviolence and FCNL’s tagline, “War is Not the Answer”.