February 27, 2008
After a break last week to celebrate Maria’s adoption, I’m jumping back into Trinity Church’s Philosophy of Ministry and its implications for Worship Ministries. The 5th affirmation is stated as follows:
5. Our conviction is that ministry is the lifestyle of every believer.
a) Because ministry is not the task of the few, but the work of all, we are committed to “equip the saints for the work of ministry.”
b) We believe in cultivating giftedness by empowering people, affirming vision, staying flexible and valuing creativity.
c) We believe that, important as gifts are, a servant mindset and personal godliness trump giftedness.
d) We are committed to prepare our members as kingdom-agents, deploying them for ministry not only in our congregation, but in our community and beyond.
This affirmation has huge implications on how I lead my people, specifically how I cultivate the mindset and attitude of those who serve on my teams. I feel strongly that my role as Pastor of Worship Ministries is to first and foremost to serve my people by empowering them to use their gifts well to serve the Lord and his church, and then, to deploy them in using their gifts to declare the gospel of Jesus Christ, and highlight its saving and transforming power to those who are lost apart from Christ. I value all artistic creativity and seek to find and enlist people who have artistic gifts in worship ministry at Trinity. I also want to utilize modern technology and practices to declare the best message of all in the most engaging, exciting, compelling and powerful way possible. We lead our people to rally around the gospel and it is worth every effort to make it glorious! Trinity is a church that recognizes the power of the arts to communicate the message of Christ and enable people to respond in worship. We invest time and resources to equip and empower our artistic people and to remain culturally relevant in our use of modern technology.
It is of utmost importance to pause here and remember that we are not an art-centered church, we are Christ-centered and our art is subservient to the message we proclaim and the value of the people we serve in the church and outside the church. In this way, points c) and d) capture the heartbeat of Worship Ministries.
One of the highest values I have when it comes to worship ministry is that we practice and exhibit humility above all else. Humility is best seen in a servant mindset toward the Lord, one another and toward those we lead in worship. Christ is our example of humility and we will follow him first and foremost in this way. I gave a closing address at our Worship Ministries Workshop last September that outlined my vision and that really highlights the importance of this servant mindset.
God’s church is edified – Our worship teams and team members are truly serving the body, not themselves. Our goal is to put the spotlight on Him and not ourselves. And yet we do so with an excellence that he is worthy of – nothing but our best, and our best best be getting better. We humbly use our talents to minister to our church family. Humility is what balances out excellence to make the right combination to offer worship that is pleasing to God and accessible to the people we lead … Humble people boast in their weaknesses along with the Apostle Paul who said, “Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. ”(2Cor. 12:9-10, NIV) Humility also says, “How can I serve you better?” We serve one another and our church with our artistic and technical talents. We’re always looking for opportunities to build each other up – in this way we love one another. We are <u>always</u> willing to change our ways and stretch our talents to benefit the team and accomplish our mission.”
It is important to recognize that humility is a bi-product of growth in personal godliness. I said it this way in the abovementioned address when highlighting the highest priority or worship ministries.
God is glorified – our worship leadership is leading from hearts that are totally devoted to Christ and continually being transformed into his image, for his glory alone. “And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.” (2Cor. 3:18, NIV) I’ve heard this prayer, “Lord we want to see your glory,” prayed often in a worship service context. What if we prayed instead, “Lord, transform us in your likeness with ever-increasing glory?” I think God would be pleased to reveal his glory in us this way. And as it happens in the worship leadership, so will it go with the congregation … We lead by modeling a response of worship that includes repentance, faith and obedience – perhaps these are the best indicators that transformation is in the works. The Lord is glorified as we are transformed into his likeness.”
Lastly, I love the language in the last point that we are ‘deployed kingdom-agents.’ Worship ministries is not a place to do sub-par art for our church family. It is a place to do the best art possible that, while serving our church family, will also have an increasing ministry beyond the four walls of our church. Good art will naturally lead to opportunities as deployed kingdom agents to the world.
I end with this third vision statement from my worship ministries address: The lost are being saved – those who do not know Christ are finding salvation as they observe the worshipping church, and are invited to participate. God’s Spirit is undeniably present and overflowing through the lives of his people inside and outside the church worship service. They are discovering the joy and responsibility as his ambassadors to the lost, inviting them to be reconciled to God. We are fooling ourselves if we think that we are serving the Lord in a pleasing way if our heart doesn’t have compassion for the lost. This has been one of my greatest struggles and sins in life. It is so easy to consume ourselves completely in the church and in serving the church and forget that the church is about mission and that mission is Jesus’ mission. And Jesus declared his mission like this, “For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost.”(Luke 19:10, NIV) I want to encourage each of us to use our artistic or technical area to be ambassadors for Jesus. With it we can declare the gospel of Christ, and we can make friends with those who have never discovered the Creator of their talent. Does your heart break for the lost? Do you know people who are artists or technicians like yourself who don’t know Christ? Do you use your artistic or technical talent to creatively tell the gospel of Christ?”