In my book, Finding the Groove: Composing a Jazz-Shaped Faith, I sought to put on to the page what we see
on the stage. We do not need to be
jazz musicians to practice a jazz-shaped faith. Rather, there are basic concepts that are most easily
observed in music but are in no way limited to those who play instruments. Once we are familiar with the basic
elements we begin to notice them elsewhere in art, poetry, novels and sports.
There are three fundamentals to jazz and thus a jazz-shaped
Syncopation: Accenting the offbeat. This is what allows jazz to swing and when applied to prayer or Bible study it brings to light not hidden meaning but meaning that is often missed.
Improvisation–when we are so familiar with the basic groove of God’s word and the way of Christ we are in a position to experiment and play a little. Improvisation is the result of living in community with other practicing Christians who allow us the grace and encouragement to find our own voice.
Call and Response: The essence of a jazz-shaped faith is listening. God called to his creation on the first page of scripture and continued to call to Adam and Eve as they hid in shame. When we develop our ear for the voice of God and the needs of others we place ourselves in a position to respond by donning the towel and basin and serving others as Christ did.
A jazz theologian is someone who incorporates these fundamentals into evangelism, spiritual direction, community, scripture, calling, incarnation & resurrection, pain & the cross.