Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Somewhere Between The New & The Old

So... I am sitting on a not so soft bed overlooking a lake somewhere in southern Michigan reading "WORSHIP MATTERS" by Bob Kauflin at our church's annual staff planning retreat. We do these planning retreats as a staff so that we can re-evaluate our effectiveness in ministry and also dream and plan for the following year.

Personally, if I may be honest, I am finding myself frustrated with planning, sick of creativity, left to be reminded that some church with a way cooler pastor, worship leader and stage props are going to do it way better than I can. I am tired of this faulty ministry model. What are we doing? I don't want to waste my life planning services that are jam packed with creativity leaving absolutely no room left for the Holy Spirit. Yet, I want sweet services, with loud speakers, and cool sermon series. I want to be changed, but not as much as I want to be entertained. I am somewhere caught between the pressure of entertaining every Sunday, and actually leading worship... Physically. Just spent. I don't want to dream up new anything. I dont want to look at an empty calender and fill in the dates with something new and exciting.

I am somewhere between the new and the old... I once stood in awe in worship, lately, I've been standing in duty doing my job. You know the "motions". The thing God so desires. "Jonathan, Just give me the motions..."

I came accross a quote from a famous song writer I look up to, Isaac Watts, maybe you've heard of him. He once wrote this quote, maybe even on a not so soft bed overlooking a lake somewhere in the middle between the new and the old...

"The Great God values not the service of men, if the heart be not in it; The Lord sees and judges the heart; he has no regard to outward forms of worship, if there be no inward adoration, if no devout affection be employed therein. It is therefore a matter of infinite importance, to have the whole heart engaged steadfastly for God."

My number one job as Pastor, worship leader, or just plain old regular guy who's trying to live like a Christian is not to do, but to be. Thus, this retreat I am determined to work more on self-evaluation than future vision for our church. If I am empty, I will have nothing to give. "the greatest gift I can give my church is my personal intimacy with Christ." This is something worth working on. This is something that matters. Yeah... this is the new old. Go figure!


Anonymous said...

It sounds like you want to be spirit lead, and why would that be a problem? If the Holy Spirit isn't there in the service, there is not church, there is no worship, there is nothing but man's prompting. Personally I would rather the Holy Spirit, without Him, I am nothing.


I hear ya bro. Sometimes ministry just seems like a competition to see who can "perform" it the best or the "trendiest"...frustrating.

I am trying to reset my mind to kicking it old school- 2000 years old school. ACTS is where it is at for me. A ministry where GOD THINGS are always happening!

Firefly said...

I stumbled upon your blog sometime last year and enjoy reading your writing about ministry.

This post reminded me of the song "Somewhere in the Middle" by Casting Crowns (I do youth ministry and our youth group LOVES that band - I guess they are actually youth pastors at their church which explains a lot).

Keep seeking God! It's always good to see other Christians in ministry looking beyond the action to the heart of what it's all about.

Dominic said...

Just be real with people. Paul was, "I did not come with lofty words." Actually I was just talking about this with my ma recently. That even though we all look at Peter as the bumb ediot of the twelve. We dont look at the fact that he was real and honest even if it hurt him. God has really used that example to convict me often. "Look Dominic, though Peter forsook me, he was still real and honest. He wasnt affraid to show his weaknesses to others."

It is all so simple, the Christian life. But we are so imperfect that we still seek the approval of man even when we are before other believers. We need to just be real with everyone. Show each other that we are hurting and that we need each other. It is such a relief when we just let it all come out. When we are able to empty our hearts to God and to each other.