PURSUING THE ORDINARY IN WORSHIP MINISTRY
A wise mentor once helped me consider the way God made creation to work. Such pondering included thoughts about processes as well as thoughts about dramatic moments. Certainly God’s power is uniquely evident in the flash of lightning and the deep bass rumble of thunder. We are brought to our knees in the tornadic winds or the piercing rain of a hurricane. Even when we are sheltered during storms, we are likely to call out for God’s protection, and wonder if He is trying to get our attention. The concentration my granddad was encouraging me towards, though, was the slow growth of a seed into a stem into a twig into a tree. He wanted me to think about leaves and fruit, grass that is mowed only to grow to need cutting again. He wanted my thoughts on sunrises and sunsets, puppies and old dogs, hay bailing and hog-slopping were included as well, though he admitted those were partially to motivate me to help him get them done. I did not really need prodding to help him, because in doing that work I got to be with him, hearing his funny stories, listening for insight in the school of life, experiencing his love expressions which were subtle, but none the less potent. Ordinary stuff, grace gifts of life, evidences and reminders that God is always at work.
I am afraid that in our day we are too often prone to think that God is only worshiped in the “Wow” moments, and then we begin to feel pressure as musician-ministers to “produce” those moments. We confuse inspiration and worse yet, cheap thrill with Spirit power. It is this kind of thinking that causes us to concentrate more on what happens on the platform than in the pews. It is this “searching for wow” pressure that has us thinking a big crescendo holds more power than encouraging fellowship among the worshipers. Rhythmic song tries to compensate for lack of any true celebration of life. Drowning decibels from the woofer and line array speakers or the organ attempt to mask the fact that few worshipers are singing the worship song. We feel we have to make something happen, or at least make it appear as if it is. That pressure may come from within, fueled by our feelings of inadequacy, or from without, prodded by a senior pastor who is fueled by his own inadequacies, or by congregation members who are self-appointed critics. While chasing the approval of malcontents, we may miss the “ordinary” miracle of a child discovering their head voice, or a sincerely warm handshake between disparate worshipers. We may be distracted from noticing a teenager enthusiastically singing a traditional hymn, or a senior adult engaged in a modern worship song.
What if we actively pursue the joy of the ordinary? What if in this season of Lent, when we verbalize our “ashes to ashes” condition, we give God glory for the profound nature of His handiwork without feeling that we need to embellish and amplify to a point of such over-stimulation that steadily numbs the human senses God has given. What if we spend more of our creative work equity to re-engage people’s imaginations in worship instead of trying to impress them with our own? What if we call worshipers’ attention to the joys of ordinary moments in ordinary days that God turns into extraordinary by His work of grace. A father doing artwork with a son becomes a discussion of how God made the world. A mother – middle schooler trip home after school becomes an exchange regarding how people treat one another.
Look at Titus, who the Apostle Paul appointed to minister in a common town among common people where there was unfinished business, problems and opposition, but who needed someone to help them do ordinary life in Jesus with love for God and each other where they live.
It goes without saying, you and I are God’s creation. We are created to be human. I certainly pray that those who serve in worship ministry leadership have a strong sense of calling to that responsibility. That is the only way we can keep our head in the game, and on straight. I preach that sermon as oft as I am given opportunity. Our responsibility, however, is limited to the human side of the equation. God alone retains the power to transform life, and blow the wind of renewal through the Spirit. Our calling is to serve out our ministry as a human being trusting in the Lord to bless the work of our hands, and praying for His divine intervention. So, do not despair when it seems “nothing is happening” in your ministry. God’s call to you and me, as human beings, is to serve faithfully and trust Him to do His work. Whether you are in the storm or the mundane, weekly work, trust Him. As a pastor in our state recently reminded a group of pastors, we need to wait – watch – and worship.Explore posts in the same categories: Congregational Singing, Leading Worship, Music Ministry, Singing Worship, Spiritual formation through singing, Worship Leaders, Worship Pastors, Worship Reminders, Worship theology, Worship thoughts, Youth Worship