Recently, I was asked to bring a challenge to all the worship and music ministry leadership in a church where a close friend of mine is the music and worship leader. As I thought for several weeks about what to say to those who play instruments, sing in the choir and worship ensemble, run sound, design bulletins, and much more, I finally settled on the remarks that follow. I hope that they might also provide perspective for you and for those involved in your church’s music and worship ministry.
Any time we speak about worship, our communion with God, we are dealing directly with what is immensely sacred, i.e., encountering the divine, touching holy things. Worship is the most important practice in our lives and in our church – giving praise and adoration to the one who created all that is.
When we lead others in worship we are participating in the only activity on earth that will also be a part of heaven. Consider the following:
(2)While sharing our faith and helping those in need is crucial on earth, there will be no needs in heaven for us to attend to.
(3) While committee work and meetings are the way in which we accomplish our work in our churches, we will not take this work with us to heaven.
When we worship, we are engaging with God – we are doing on earth what we will spend an eternity doing in the presence of God. While worship is a rehearsal for heaven, it is more than that — it is a connection, an extension of heaven. We encounter God is places that may be between here and eternity (what some theologians have called a thin space) – we worship on earth with our earthy community yet we are connected to God in an eternal act of offering toward God.
So how is it that we remain faithful to that to which God has called us (our worship leadership)? How do we continue in our worship leadership when we don’t always feel it? What will sustain us as we look toward this new year of worship and service? As you explore these questions, here are seven encouraging words:
Ours is a high calling
Service through worship ministry is a high calling – nothing could be more important. As we consider the Mary/Martha story, it is easy to argue that the “practical” or the “holy” things of the church are more important. However, sitting at Jesus’ feet is important, and preparing for the work of worship is important.
All the work of the church is important – the jobs that may go unnoticed, and those that are in the spotlight. When we believe that we are called instead of obligated, everything changes; all the work of the church’s ministries become important and equally valuable.
The Evil One is also present
The Evil one would want us to be discouraged from our service through worship ministry — for leaders to become weary and lack zeal would be a tremendous way for the evil one to invade your church and interrupt its dependence on God. Realize that any good work will always be a target for evil. While our recognition of the evil one’s power is not something about which to be obsessed, we must be cognizant of the power of evil; for worship leaders to become discouraged and lackluster would signal victory for the devil.
One way in which I experienced what I perceive to be the power of evil is the tendency for challenges to arise on Saturday night (family issues, fatigue, minor illnesses, people cancelling Sunday leadership responsibilities, etc.), and I end up with Sunday morning discouragement. Consider finding a group to pray for your church’s worship leadership – especially on Saturday nights.
We can’t trust our feelings
Acknowledge that we don’t always feel like serving and leading, and that’s alright. Often, we mistake that we should be eager to participate in worship leadership or other service for our gifts of time and talents to be genuine.
There are Wednesday afternoons and Sunday mornings when coming to church to do what I love to do most is nevertheless difficult. However, when I get here and get involved, I’m grateful for the opportunity to serve and lead. Every good thing in life takes effort and intentionality – they don’t just happen. In our culture, we make the mistake of thinking that everything should feel good – all the time – when most often, feelings follow actions.
God will take care of God’s work God will take our efforts, talents and abilities (modest though they may be) and multiply them and use them as God chooses. Our part of the God/human equation is to offer God what we have. We are not in charge of changing lives, drawing people closer to Christ, or creating Holy Spirit moments. These are God’s to do (and God’s only). Give what you have to offer to God, and God can be trusted to do God’s part.
Serving is a privilege
Working with others who have committed their gifts and lives to serve through worship ministry is a privilege. No team-work is more invigorating than that which can come together around music and worship. When you combine eager hearts, the power of music and text, a willingness to grow and change, and a deep hunger for knowing God more fully, you can expect a big God adventure.
Showing up matters Showing up week after week gives God the chance to transform our lives. The more we show up, the better chance we have of being in the middle of things when God’s Spirit is prominently experienced. Showing up over a long period of time shapes and molds us into creatures who are more God-like. We become like those with whom we spend time – hanging out regularly with God’s children is likely the best way to more readily resemble God.
Always say “thanks”
Lastly, none of us have the talents and giftedness that we’re able to offer to God in this place because of anything that we did, earned, or deserved. What we are offer to God each week is sheer grace, and our only fitting response is “Thanks.” When we sense God’s presence in worship, and we are transported to the very throne of God, say “thanks’ and when we feel as if our offerings were anemic and lifeless, say “thanks.”
The privilege of participation is where joy lies. When we look back at our lives, our regrets will likely come more from what we didn’t do than from what we did. Saying “thanks” in the middle of the everyday and normal of life is often what makes the difference.
Do you have other encouraging words? Please share them in the comments section below.