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Bono and the terrifying courage to dream it all up again

Filed under: church,creativity,music,worship — 8:59 am

From the Sky Down

Many of you know that Bono and U2 have played a huge role in helping me become a worship leader.  (Check our Everything I Know About Worship Leading I Learned from an Irish Rock Star).

But even though I’ve been focusing on smaller, more reflective kinds of worship expressions lately, I just watched the fascinating U2 documentary “From the Sky Down” and am all fired up again!  They somehow capture the brilliance and power of what is POSSIBLE when a big group of people gather together and agree on something.  Here are two inspiring moments from the film…

(1) During their opening song at Glastonbury, Bono shouts to the crowd:  “Glastonbury!  Where are you going to take us tonight?!?  Where are YOU going to take us tonight?!?” and then launches into the great Real Thing bridge:  You take us higher / You take us higher.  This reminded me…

Bono knows that he’s the ring-leader, but the people are the main event.  He didn’t say “Glastonbury, are you ready to be taken somewhere great?”  His faith is not in what the band can do for the people, but what we all can create together.  How beautiful!

I want to be more like him in this way.

(2) While talking about that terrifying season when they had left the approach that had made them the biggest band on earth (Joshua Tree) BUT hadn’t found their next sound (Achtung Baby), Bono suggested:

“You have to reject one expression of the band, first, before you
get to the next expression.  And in between, you have nothing.”

I cannot stop thinking about this.  His words haunt me and raise a couple questions…

-Am I willing to let go of what I know (which is today fading into yesterday) in order to be ready for the unknown (which is tomorrow trying to be born)?  Or will I keep clutching to what has always worked?  This is easy to answer in theory, but very hard to live out.

-Will I be the kind of artist that keeps creating new versions of what I’ve already made, or do I need to stop and dream it up again?

-Will I be the kind of worship leader who plugs new songs into the same tired formula, or do I need to stop, pray, learn from others, and dream up some new ways to help people connect with God?  (Here’s the dilemma:  The old formula still “works” for many people.  And that’s a good thing!  But I truly believe that something new is trying to get born, and those who are willing to let go of what still works might have hands free enough to help the new birth.)

I think that my friend Brian sums up this spirit well:  “We’re not just trying to fill pews in the church of the sunset, but we’re trying to help people create the church of the sunrise.”

What does that look like for you?  Whether art or business or service or family, what does it look like to stay open to the unfolding future?  Are you clinging to anything that might keep you from grabbing hold of what’s coming?  Are you more concerned with safety than possibility?  How do you balance the difficult tension between reality’s demands and tomorrow’s invitation?  What do you think is trying to get born in the world and in your life…and how can you help it happen?

Our planet needs a few more dreamers.  Not just dreamers who sit at home and dream, but those who are brave enough to push past the security of the known and see what awaits us beyond the bend.  Are you in?


  1. That is a Fantasic observation. Where are going to take us. I love that! I just want to encourage you to keep pressing in and keep moving Forward God will meet you there!

    I wanted to share a quote with you that I was just reminded of:

    Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds wake in the day to find that all was vanity; but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act their dream with open eyes, and make it possible.
    T. E. Lawrence
    (Lawrence of Arabia)
    from The Seven Pillars of Wisdom

    Dream on my Brother!

    Comment by Andrew Harris — August 30, 2012 @ 9:12 am

  2. Aaron, one of my favorite moments of the film was them documenting how “One” came about, and about what a critical moment that was – not only for the album, but the future of the band. They were very concerned that they had done all they could and there was nothing more to do. Then, in a musical moment of God’s spirit moving, it came to them. Sometimes God’s greatest moments come when we’re in our deepest struggles.

    Comment by Steve Lindsley — August 30, 2012 @ 9:43 am

  3. Andrew, What a great quote! Thanks for sharing it!

    Comment by aaronieq — August 30, 2012 @ 12:02 pm

  4. You know where I stand in this… Too much talk, not enough action. Life is short, go for it people! 😉

    Comment by Kurt — August 30, 2012 @ 2:33 pm

  5. I’m in. And in between. But in. I’m inspired and provoked by your observations and questions, and I need to find a copy of that film!

    Comment by Jase Miller — September 1, 2012 @ 12:27 am

  6. As an entrepreneur who is always pushing boundaries, I am all about dreaming big. However we need to remember that the sacred music of that “crowd of witnesses” that has gone before us has history ( an important teacher). And value and we should not abandon it all together. It also helps to bind us together in community!

    Comment by Lesley Smith — September 24, 2012 @ 8:27 am

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