Tom Lane/Article from Worship Musician Magazine:
Some of the most vivid memories I have as a kid involve baseball. We lived at the ball fields, it was a community event, and when we weren’t there we were in our yards or the streets throwing the ball. I loved the smell of my leather glove and would put it over my face and just breath it in. I oiled it regularly so it could withstand the red clay dirt and chalk from the field. I was just a so so player compared to some of my buddies that were naturals, but it was none the less a huge part of my life. When we faced teams that we knew weren’t as good as we were I remember we used to say, “no competition!” We’d even yell it from the dugout at them.
Competition starts early and isn’t all bad. It’s challenging, fun, and in some ways prepares us for the real world where survival is a reality. There’s a time and place for it certainly, but one place it doesn’t need to exist is within The Church. It’s counter productive and totally opposite the heart of God. No player on our team is insignificant, no matter how weak. No team is worse than another because they each serve a purpose and matter to The Lord, and more importantly, they’re part of our family!
Though I don’t think it’s intentional, one thing that sometimes accompanies thriving churches and movements is an air of arrogance and pride. When amazing things are going on it’s natural as humans to feel a sense of identity and ownership. But at the end of the day our own success and growth, are never simply just for our own good and glory. It’s all to give away, to share, to spill over into our world; so that none miss the opportunity to know Jesus, and the hope he is for salvation.
We would all likely say that it’s a blessing to have an abundance of musicians, singers, artists, resources, tools, etc. in our churches. There are some profound and shining examples of churches that are growing and impacting. There are far more churches that are much smaller in size and scale that don’t, and may never, have as much. In truth they’re a more realistic picture of most of the rest in the world. The big, huge, and high profile are really the minority. The tendency is sometimes to criticize the high profile and dismiss what God has genuinely done among them. But that’s not good or right to do because again, we’re not in a competition with them. Another historical tendency is to become so enamored and involved with our own movements that we lose sight of the Kingdom view. Jesus is always concerned with his kingdom coming on earth as it is in heaven, it’s the whole body of Christ and not just a few of the bright lights that is responsible for living out the kingdom and it’s values.
One way we can avoid becoming self consumed as we grow is to make humility and sharing a goal and priority. The more genuine relationships are, the less we feel a spirit of competition. In truth the heart of the church should be to expand more by helping others go do it, than to grow our own particular congregation to mammoth size. We should be planters and sharers, not gatherers and hoarders. When we reach out and develop relationships, we are more inclined to help them succeed and give them what we can because we’re invested.
Regarding worship teams, if we made sharing what we have as much a part of the plan as the services, we’d ultimately create more room for others to participate with their gifts and talents. We’d also shift more of the emphasis from the platform and focus it outwards, where matters even more! The goal of our corporate worship times as a body is never solely about our own experience and encounter. We cannot separate ourselves from the missional heart of God: to reach out, go, serve, and share. If our worship doesn’t transcend the corporate time and spill over into our daily lives as living sacrifices and testimonies, then it’s of no more use than a great pep rally really.
As we strive to build good worship ministries and raise up other worshipers, let’s be mindful to do more than create artists platforms. Here are some practical suggestions that apply to us all, big or small.
- If we have multiple leaders, teams, musicians, etc., adopt smaller churches or gatherings and share them. Seek out opportunities and needs, offer what we have.
- Encourage our own to find opportunities to serve aside from the platform.
- Invest in relationships with other area churches and leaders, benefit from one another.
- Foster a planting mentality, encourage our own to initiate opportunities, gatherings, or any other creative idea that reaches outside of our own congregation into the community.
- Partner with other ministries, churches, and leaders. Doesn’t really matter what you do, just do something together.