Kimball Boyd Coburn

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The Rock Band and the Church (A Parable)

Once upon a time, some young people decided they wanted to become a rock band. They got so excited thinking about fame, fortune, and popularity. They talked for days about what the name of their band should be, what songs they’ll sing, what they’ll wear, and the kind of image they wanted to project. At the end of their meetings, they were full of themselves and couldn’t wait to tell their friends. They were completely ready to become rock stars, except for one detail that stood in their way. They didn’t know how to play their instruments!

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Photo by Red Morley Hewitt on Unsplash

This story reminds me of the church. You can’t organize a church into being. Meetings do not a church make. A new name does not make a new church. Buildings, parking spaces, and technology are not the foundation of the church. No, it is people ~ committed people, spirited people, talented people, compassionate and giving people, who in community understand they are the body of Christ.

There are no shortcuts to being the Church. The Church is the instrument of God, an instrument that requires practice, an instrument that plays the joyful and calling music of justice, peace, hope and love, an instrument of faithful commitment to prayer, worship, witness, evangelism and action.

The Church does not strive for popularity, it strives for community, a oneness through love and understanding. The call to be the Church is not for ‘groupies’ (those who follow the band), but for ‘disciples’ (those who follow Christ). A rock band thrives by having groupies. The Church thrives by having disciples. A rock band needs ‘roadies’ to help set up the band on the stage. The Church needs ‘radicals’ with the courage to take the Good News of Jesus into all the world!

I Am A Beggar

begging-handsAlthough I have a good education and enough money to get by, I am a beggar. To be Christ-like you must be a beggar. You can’t be demanding and controlling. It is a position of servanthood.  Thank you for responding to my begging. Without your prayers, financial support, and belief in our mission to take the Good News of Jesus Christ into the world, my ministry of evangelism in the prophetic spirit would have faltered long ago.

The Apostle Paul, writing to the church in Corinth, bragged about the churches in Macedonia.  Although they were going through hard times and were very poor, they begged for the privilege of sharing in the ministry and relief of other Christians (II Corinthians 8:1-5).  Like those faithful nascent churches, I beg pastors and their congregations to allow me to serve them as a servant evangelist.  I ask earnestly and humbly to bring the challenge and the Call of Jesus to them.

My mission is to help Churches focus on their mission.  Admittedly, sometimes I fail, but other times I strike a spark in congregations.  At those times the spark is visible and palpable and the people begin coming to the altar before I finish the Call.  It is as though the feeling had been building and they couldn’t wait to come to God with a renewed commitment.  I say ‘renewed’ because I preach mostly to churched people who have come to the altar before, but that fire may be only flickering or even smoldering.  Church has become just another activity they do as part of a busy schedule.  They hunger and thirst for that deeper meaning, and when it comes, they can’t sit still.  They become the church on the move, being the best they can be, for Christ’s sake.

This is what I beg for. When it happens, I am renewed. My mission is done.  My Calling is fulfilled.

Music of the Ministry

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Don't Let The Fire Go OutOver the years, people have asked if I am a music minister and if I do concerts.  I’m humbled by these questions, but always let them know that I’m not a music minister and I don’t perform musical shows.  I am a preacher, a servant evangelist who uses music to enhance my messages and to lift the spirits of the people.  Sometimes I’ll write my songs from the sermons, while other times the sermons come from the songs.  But every song I write has a complete message that I feel stands on its own.  In almost 50 years of ministry, I’ve discovered that the combination of sermon and song greatly strengthens a presentation by making it more memorable and focused.  Yes, I suppose there’s a part of me that would like to be a musical performer.  But what really gets my heart going is using all the gifts God has given me to share his prophetic message.

A Servant's SongsI’m also blessed to have children, grandchildren, and good friends gifted in creating music with meaning and purpose.  They continue to surround me with their talents and are on all my recordings.  We’re extremely proud of the music we’ve produced over the years and are excited to share it with you.

A Messenger And His Music

Click the Music of the Ministry tab to listen and download the music. For the highest quality sound, go to Bandcamp and follow the steps and choose from a variety of digital formats.  Or simply let us send you any – or all – CDs. The price?  It’s my pleasure to share our music free of charge with the hope of encouraging you in your faith.

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For God’s Sake, WARM IT UP!

Historically, Methodists were known to be warm people with warm hearts, warm fellowship, warm worship, warm music, and warm outreach. John Wesley’s life was changed when his heart felt strangely warmed. Having and conveying that feeling was one of the major factors in growing the church.

The difference between a warm church and a cooler routine type is quite noticeable. Warm churches enjoy fellowship on a deeper level. They understand the bond that brings them together and their mission they share. Even though each member is unique, in Christ their hearts are one. They’re relaxed and glad to see one another and enjoy sharing what’s going on in their lives.

Warm churches are joyful. There’s joy in their liturgy, joy in their singing, joy in their response to preaching and joy in their hearts when they go into the world to be the church in everyday life. Warm churches give generously and serve faithfully. They don’t get lost in survival and self. They preach a welcoming and personal Jesus. They preach his calling to build the Kingdom of God and take the social action necessary. Warm churches do something better than any clubs or organizations. They create a level playing field for all people — an environment where no one is better, smarter, richer, or more important than anyone else. God created us unique and precious in his sight. We worship and work together, shoulder to shoulder as a team with a focus.

I’ve been told if I were a consultant instead of a servant evangelist, I could make a lot more money. Consultants are sellers of their expertise while servant evangelists are messengers of Christ’s Good News. Being a servant-messenger sounds so much warmer – don’t you agree?! But if I were a consultant, the first thing I would tell you is: For God’s Sake, Warm It Up! Warm churches are communities of people who know they are the Church — the Body of Christ. And to be the Body of Christ means we’re warm in our being, warm in our methods, and warm in our touch.

True To God’s Call

As I start my 38th year of doing a ministry of evangelism in the prophetic spirit, it is time again for a ‘gut check.’ Have I resisted the world’s call to be popular instead of prophetic, a fundraiser instead of a faith raiser, a singer instead of a servant?  ~ I have gone back through my sermons and newsletter articles to check my thinking and see if I have kept moving in the direction of God’s Call.  Of course, it is your response to my ministry that makes it happen in your local church.  So, let’s look together and remember God’s Call.


youngkimel-monte“I am convinced there is a place for the evangelist today, but the TV model must be replaced with the biblical model.” (1980)

“Maybe it’s good that people aren’t rushing to our churches today.  Could it be this is God’s wake-up call to us saying, “It’s time to start doing evangelism instead of just talking about it.” (1986)

“I challenge all evangelists, pastors, music ministers and musically gifted lay people to create music that will inspire and move the Church into the future.” (1990)

“1950s, goodbye!  I loved my old church.  I thank her for being there for me at that impressionable age.  But I want a church that realizes it’s a new day that calls for a new way!” (1995)

“Being a city boy, I’ve never expressed myself with the words, ‘It pleasures me greatly.’ However, they are the perfect words to express how I feel about being a servant evangelist.  Although I graduated from seminary as a Doctor and was ordained a Reverend, nothing is more awe-inspiring to me than being a Servant.” (1996)

“Encouragement for Young Ministers:  You can be humble and at the same time, assert your leadership.  You can respect the elderly and at the same time, energize the youth. You can be pastoral and at the same time, preach prophetically. You can honor the traditions and at the same time, introduce new ways of worship.  You can be a daily servant and at the same time, see visions.” (2000)

“I love the church because she is not self-serving. She exists in humility and meekness to serve the world.  She exists to do evangelism, taking the Good News to the lost, confused and hopeless. I love the church because of her constant striving to change the world.  I love her prophetic spirit and belief in peacemaking.  I love her courage to confront and challenge injustice wherever it resides.” (2005)

“People today are much like those to whom Isaiah was prophesying who said, “speak to us smooth things.” The Church cannot be a ‘garden’ of smooth things. It cannot become an ‘ether environment’ that puts people to sleep to the hurts and pains around them.” (2007)

“Jesus was angry with his disciples when they fell asleep in the Garden of Gethsemane.  I am angry with my church because we are sleeping while God is Calling.” (2008)

“METHODISM is known for being pioneering, spiritually fervent, socially concerned, theologically progressive and musically alive. Now put this with COMPASSION to the power of two, and the true meaning of EVANGELISM will be understood ~ E=mc2 (2009)

“When I see the church gaining the crowd but losing her life, it is time to give up popularity for the prophetic spirit.” (2010)

“You cannot be with poor children and not feel the great contradiction ~ the contradiction between God’s Will for the world and our actions in the world.” (2009)kimballcoburn-1

“Challenge to Ministers: Most of us ministers have got what it takes, but we are not giving what we’ve got. It comes off like we don’t have the gifts and graces for ministry.  We do have the gifts and graces. The challenge is to have the guts — the guts to stand tall and give our all.” (2011)

“Restlessness can be a good thing, a creative thing, and a positive change. Ambitious restlessness and Holy Spirit restlessness are completely different. One drives you inward to self, while the other drives you outward to others.” (2015)

Agape, Kimball

 

A Servant’s Insight

The day is coming when we will have “autonomous cars.” This is what cars are being named that don’t need drivers. The automotive industry predicts by the year 2020, driverless cars will be on the roads. It sounds a little scary to me, although, in most cases, I am for progress. Progress for the Church is the opposite of this. Yes, God could control the Church, but chooses not to. God has chosen us to be the Body of Christ, the Church. God has called us to be builders of the Kingdom of God. We are not controlled by God. We are loved, blessed and guided by God. We are filled with the Holy Spirit and freed to be all we can be.

Progress for the Church is the opposite of this. Yes, God could control the Church, but chooses not to. God has chosen us to be the Body of Christ, the Church. God has called us to be builders of the Kingdom of God. We are not controlled by God. We are loved, blessed and guided by God. We are filled with the Holy Spirit and freed to be all we can be. The Church is not a car, but needs drivers. She needs people to keep their hands on the wheel and carry the Cross. The progress of the Church depends on getting more and more people involved. It is not autonomous, it is community oriented.

Agape,
Kimball

Don’t Let The Fire Go Out

crossThis is the title song of my newest CD.  In the song, I sing about “a restlessness to be.”  We think of restlessness mostly as a feeling of the young, but age is not a true factor. This restlessness comes from wanting to move from a dissatisfaction of the old, with a hungering to try something new.

Restlessness can be a good thing, a creative thing, and a positive change.  Holy Spirit restlessness is completely different from ambitious restlessness ~ one drives us inward and the other drives us outward.  Holy Spirit restlessness moves us outside of ourselves, as the song says, “crying out ~ send me.”

I am certainly not young, but I still feel a restlessness that gives me an edge, an eagerness and exciting energy to change smoldering embers into burning flames.  I would be privileged to come to your church with God’s message.

“Don’t burn out.  Keep yourselves fueled and aflame” – Romans 12:11 (The Message)

Click here to download Kimball’s new music for free.

(song artwork © Lily Lee, cross artwork © Wulf Forrester-Barker, creative commons)

Love Comes Down At Christmas

It was to be a cold Christmas high in the mountains of Mt. Baldy. The children wished for snow. The fathers wished for more wood for the fireplaces and potbellies. The mothers wished for their shopping to be completed before the first snowstorm of the season.

It was a time of excitement and busyness. Everyone seemed caught up in the wrappings and trappings of Christmas. The ‘I wanna’s and I gotta haves’ included everything from the largest tree, to the most presents, the best decorated house, the prettiest Christmas clothes…and the list went on. Can you imagine at this wonderful time of the year that people were so busy, busy, busy, getting, getting, getting that they were actually saying they wanted Christmas to hurry and be over so they could get back to their regular pace of life?

Mt Baldy ChurchBut there was one place in the tiny mountain village where the air was filled with quiet beauty and anticipation. There was no hustling and bustling, just great expectation of what was to come. It was the small Village Church that stood next to the creek and just at the entrance to Bear Canyon.

She beckoned the children, their friends and parents to come, but everyone was too busy. Her fireplace burned giving warmth but nobody came to be warmed. Her windows looked out to the stars…one was ever so bright, but no one came to see them. A giant evergreen tree telling of everlasting life stood glowing in the corner, but no one was thinking of everlasting life. They were thinking only of now. The Advent wreath in all of its beauty told stories of faith, hope, joy and love but these weren’t the gifts on anyone’s lists.

Nestled beneath the communion table a crèche scene graced the sanctuary of the small village church. Straw fell from the manger where a tiny baby lay quietly to share his love with the families of the mountain. Would they come? Surely they would come. It’s Christmas Eve.

All of a sudden the doors opened! There was laughter and joyful greetings. There were young and old alike. There were oohs and ahhs. They came to be warmed by the fire. They came to see the star. Did it lead them there? They came to feel the glow of the tree and to know the everlasting power it represented. They came in hopes of receiving the gifts of faith, hope, joy and love. They came because they wanted to share their love with the little one who lay in the manger of straw before them. They gathered around the crèche and sang lullabies of “Away In The Manger” and “Silent Night” to the babe and then silently prayed for their gift of gifts before breaking into a rousing, “Joy To The World.”  Love truly came down that Christmas ~ a love for you and for me. It was a Christmas the families of Mt. Baldy will never forget.

Merry Christmas,

Pam

The Heart Of Hallelujah

LukeThis is a picture of my 5 year old grandson, Luke, singing his little heart out and praising the Lord. I’m not sure he knows what praising the Lord is all about, but I do know he loves singing and dancing in his church choir. Our job as parents, grandparents and church family is to teach him the deeper meaning of praising the Lord, having the heart of hallelujah as a child of God.  I want my grandson to grow up not seeing the church as a somber institution, but as the joyful Body of Christ.

I have written a new song entitled The Heart of Hallelujah. I wanted to write a song with words that would lift our spirit, and a tune that would get our toes tapping and our hands clapping. Take a moment and listen to this song and feel the joy it brings.

All of life should be lived in hallelujah, which means, Praise to the Lord.

Agape,

Kimball Coburn, S.E.

There’ll Always Be Songs

1957

In the 1950s, before “Sex, Drugs & Rock ‘n’ Roll” became a lifestyle, there was Doo-Wop. Like many teenagers at that time, my Dad jumped in. Actually, he dove in head first. While still in high school, he began writing, recording and performing his own songs. Kimball soon became a rock ‘n’ roll star in and around Memphis, Tennessee. Young Kimball discovered a love for creating music.

When the 60’s rolled around, he and his high school sweetheart, Pam, were married and began their family. Kimball Jr, Collie, Kathy, and Cari immediately became more important than stardom. But Dad didn’t stop writing. Also during that time, he felt God calling him into the ministry. It was a new and exciting chapter for both Dad and Mom, and us kids. And Dad continued to create music.

The Coburn Family Band – 1974

So what happened in the 70’s was no surprise. Dad traded in his baritone ukulele for an electric guitar, Kimball Jr found his groove on the drums, I got cheesy on my Vox Continental organ, and the girls filled out our sound with tambourine and sweet sounding harmonies. (In case you’re wondering, The Partridge Family was NOT based on us)

Dad’s passion for songwriting didn’t stop, but it did change. What changed was the message he would share with his new audience. That audience was the Church. Throughout his ministry, Kimball has worked creatively to encourage, challenge, and share God’s message of love in ways that will stick long after the sermon is over. That’s one reason why Dad’s ministry has been successful for more than four decades.

Since the good ol’ days of “Michael Row the Boat Ashore” and “Kum-ba-yah”, the Coburn Family Band has grown in membership and musical ability, adding talented family and friends along the way. Our name changed to The Calling Band, but our mission to help Dad share the message remains.

Cari and Dad

As I write this brief history, Dad’s new CD, A Servant’s Songs, is being put together at the manufacturer. It contains 10 brand-new songs that I believe are his finest yet. When you download and listen to There’ll Always Be Songs, you’ll certainly notice that Kimball, the doo-wopper from the 50’s, still has a passion for songwriting. But it’s his genuine love for the Church, along with the natural blend of Cari’s voice that makes this Coburn family duet so special.

Enjoy!

-Collie