March 26, 2008
God is alive and active at Trinity Church! We celebrated this with great fervor on Easter Sunday as we pulled out all the stops to declare in worship that “Christ is risen!” The climax for me personally was after Allison Stinson shared her faith story. She did such a great job declaring the wonder of Christ’s work in her life, and her recent transfer from darkness into his marvelous light. Then we sang, “The Power of the Cross,” a piece that Jeff Moore orchestrated for us. Jeff has an incredible talent. He orchestrates so that the musical accompaniment isn’t just there so the musicians have something to play. Instead, he highlights each musician’s and instrument’s sweet spot, and then brings them together to paint a beautiful musical picture that compliments the lyrics and inspires a wholehearted expression of praise from those who hear it. It was glorious as our congregation journeyed to the cross in worship and finally declared:
This the power of the cross
Christ became sins for us
What a love, what a cost
We stand forgiven at the cross
Yet, what happened 2 days earlier at our Good Friday service was even more evidence that God is truly alive and active in our congregation. Quite frankly, it was the highlight of my weekend. The service was an incredible expression of praise, culminating to a glorious climax with 10 people getting baptized. I love the way we do baptisms because it is a wonderful demonstration that the gospel is real – that Jesus is changing lives today as people turn to him, are saved, and then transformed as they grow in the faith. Each testimony was unique, but all pointed directly to Christ and the gospel and the centrality of Scripture. Each one also was a beautiful expression of worship to God. I found myself feeling deeply grateful that we are who we are at Trinity. It is easy to be critical, and I would even say, necessary, but certainly what we experienced on Friday was the fruit of a vibrant ministry where Christ and the gospel as revealed in Scripture are central to all we do. I praise God for our senior pastor, Gary Inrig, and the intense focus that he has in teaching us solid meaty truth from the Scriptures each week.
I keep discovering pockets of people who are deeply committed to and concerned for our church and have taken it to God in prayer. Many feel a deep hunger to see God at work here in an ever-increasing way – saving, sanctifying, growing, healing, transforming. “God is up to something,” people are saying. Keep praying Trinity Church – God is certainly answering our prayers! He delights to reveal himself to his people as we look to him in faith. Good Friday was a huge confirmation that God is answering these prayers. For that I shout a great big HALLELUJAH! “May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The one who calls you is faithful and he will do it.” (1Th. 5:23-24, NIV)
I still contend that we at Trinity need to lean more toward the dangerous, costly and sometimes messy life of following Christ wholeheartedly, and perhaps that is where the next Philosophy of Ministry affirmations lead us. There is a lot to them, but I will group them together and then make a few comments. Affirmation #6 reads:
6. Our mission is to extend the kingdom of God by engaging our community, our culture and the world with the words and works of Jesus.
a) discussed in a former blog dated, 3/5/2008
b)We are committed to be a missional community, intentionally building bridges to the world around us to show the love of Christ and to share the truth of the gospel
i)We will train and encourage one another in personal evangelism
ii)We will actively pursue opportunities to build bridges to our community for the purpose of showing the love of God in word and deed. This will require commitments to be intentional, strategic and contextualized.
iii)We will seek opportunities to display the gospel to the poor and disadvantaged.
iv) We will seek to deploy Christ-followers as kingdom agents in their various spheres of life.
My Comments: For the past 2 years, God has pressed on me the concept that Worship Ministries does not just exist for the church. I don’t just look for people who have mediocre talents and employ them in using these just so we can have music, drama, dance, art and technology. No, I want to find the people who God has gifted in these areas, then develop their talents in order to not just build up the church inside, but to engage those on the outside with the words and works of Christ. I want the quality of what we do to compliment the message and give us a voice that when backed by the Holy Spirit, is louder and more beautiful that all other secular voices. I want my people who serve in worship ministries to use their art to build bridges to our community for the purpose of showing the love of God in word and deed. In this sense, they are deployed as kingdom agents in their various spheres of life. Certainly, not all will have this opportunity, but we must pray for this, look for this, and wholeheartedly support those who do. In that way, I hope to see us adopting artists into the family of God, and into our Trinity Church family. You can read more on this desire in my blog written on 3/12/2008, On Adoption into God’s Family.
I also want us who lead in worship, to lead in displaying the gospel to the poor and disadvantaged. I love it that this statement is in there! Perhaps, we who lead the church should be the ones who are getting the dirtiest, forsaking the pursuit of safe, comfortable, manageable and clean living for something much more exciting, dangerous and dare we say, biblical. I am committed to living this type of worship life and to gently, yet consistently call those I lead to join me on the front line of leading our church in God’s ways.
c)We are committed to be a kingdom community, forming strategic partnerships with other churches and ministries to further the cause of the kingdom.
My Comments: Partnering with other churches and ministries is not a strong point of our Worship Ministries. Our first responsibility is to serve our own family in meeting with God each week in our worship services. The problem is that we are pretty used up just serving our own church family needs and ministries. However, there is a real value in joining others, so we must keep our eyes open to possibilities to partner with other churches and ministries for the sake of furthering the cause of the kingdom. Last summer we joined with other churches in a worship concert ministry in a Yucaipa park. We also had Ecclesia come for a worship night. Mary Bawden of SonLight has done annual workshops in Christian Dance and is gaining influence as a leader in her area. Currently, we broadcast our sermons, faith stories and media (videos we create) through our website on the Web. In addition to making the art we create accessible to others, I would like to have large enough teams that we are intentionally deploying some of our people in other areas for a season. I would specifically like to partner with other local churches and ministries as we focus first on our own community.
d)We are committed to be a global community, with a mission-hearted concern to reach the peoples of the world in obedience to the Great Commission.
i)We will send and support members of our congregation who are called by God to vocational missions.
ii)We will cultivate in our members a global outlook.
iii)We will provide opportunities for members of our congregation to engage in direct ministry in cross-cultural contexts.
iv)We will seek out and partner with other strategic ministries.
My Comments: We have the privilege in Worship Ministries to use the arts to communicate the gospel. In the same way that we deploy people to be kingdom agents in their spheres of influence, and to partner with other churches and ministries locally, I would like to see individuals and teams going out from us. This is the model God gives us for the spread of the gospel, and certainly worship ministries needs to be faithful to send as well. We also need to be faithful to support those who have gone out from among us. In that way, we will rally behind and join the support teams of those we send. Right now that includes Ed Pithey and John Charlier in full-time vocational missions. Even as I write, we also have a number of our team on a short-term missions project serving Aids patients in the Bahamas. It is our privilege to pray and support God’s work in and through our people.
In conclusion, we at Trinity are called to be an attractional, missional, kindom and globally minded people. This isn’t just something that we in Worship Ministries give lip service to, but rather is something we willingly jump into, forsaking safety, comfort and cleanliness and developing a deeper faith and a Christ-centered practice of our faith as a result. Let us be on the frontline as we proclaim the words and works of Christ in our actions as well as our art. Now that is worship that pleases God!