Back To The Heart Of, (Re:mix)

I’M COMING BACK TO THE…

I recently switched gears with the blog and started a new topic/series without really acknowledging it. So this is my chance to unlock my subconscious about this mysterious key change. Maybe you didn’t the wit of the “subtle as a train wreck” title reference, haha. Here’s a beautiful instrumental arrangement of that Matt Redman tune for you to enjoy as you continue reading.

A MIX

That being said, I’ve never been a “one point” guy. So the Re: section of this is the first source of inspiration for this writing which is all of the reading I’ve been doing at The Productive Pastor by my friend and a man of many hats, Chad Brooks. The content of this site is just the sort of nerdy detailed, practical, behind the scenes, ministry effectiveness discussions minds like mine are drawn to and draw out. Here’s a much better brief summary from his own mouth.

We’ve enter this challenge. And in reflection on this, I began to consider the potential benefits of sharing our (my wife Hanna and mine) approaches to the work of worship pastors. Perhaps trying to begin this dialogue at this time of limbo will be a healthy processing as we prepare, learn, and most importantly, listen to where God is calling us next.

HEART OF WORSHIP

This week I’ll try to lay out 4 crucial rhythms we found God calling us into repeatedly. They became pillars of what we were seeking God to shape in that culture. Allowing God to perfect and tweak as He fulfills the work of ministry, is not easy because as those who equip, and just as plan ole’ humans, we feel the need to control. Right now I’ll limit myself to a few key points and principles we used, rather than getting into the nitty gritty.

1. Prayer

The verse we were always trying to make a reality in our community was and is 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18.

We tried to and believe all are called to serve with a lifestyle of example. (A model has to be accessible and humble, otherwise there are margins for lying and arrogance and humans are prone to this anyway.)

When a level of authority is added to this mix, a higher level of accountability is called for, a much deeper, transparent, self- sacrificing lifestyle that doesn’t boast in faults but runs from them.

We don’t lean on charisma or title or any other type of “gift”, we rely solely on God.

We also pray God show us how to seek growth in these gifts, to grow in them.

Manipulation and deception must be fought off daily and continually called out, in love. This cannot stand in the kingdom of God.

We pray for meekness, for humility, for a contrite spirit, for us first and then all of us to TREMBLE at His Word.

Consistence in a lifestyle of pastoral care and guidance should be the apologetic of all Christ followers.

This lifestyle calls for number 3, but prayer must be first in all and throughout all.

2. Seasons

This is often called spiritual discernment.

We see the New Testament passages written for instruction early church leaders as being very straight forward.

We see them with clear lines of communication, usually defined as “speaking the truth in love.”

We see the bible’s blueprint for God’s body as more than a gathering, weekly, bi-weekly, or otherwise.

We read of His church as being elder-led, and as having ONE head. Jesus being the only senior pastor.

We see a great revival in this biblical teaching and structure today and seek out their teaching and encouragement as not only bible clingers and teachers but practitioners who can give fresh wisdom regarding our modern contexts.

Jesus called a group fools here. This is not judgement we want to bring on ourselves.

We recognize there is always work, appropriate work at that, to be done in every season. Above this we want to be ready in season and out of season.

We want to guide the congregation and help the team guiding the congregation and the world around us into listening closely to what the Holy Spirit is saying in each of these seasons.

So the preeminence of prayer remains but it also overlaps and saturates this “discernment” and planning stage of work.

We will hopefully discuss the detailed schedule we worked out.

Wedding Collage by Mary Sharp Johnson

3. Relationship

It’s hard to pick one verse or passage as a cornerstone for us here. We prefer you read all 4 gospels over and over and over and over and over.

This is a part of life in scripture. We sought to continually bring the Jesus’ life not only as example and model but as focal point for everything to the team and to each other, our family, and the family-body.

Without this none of the others will actually have anything to “work” on or with. People are the work of ministry. Jesus came to serve and not be served. So as the Father sent Him, now He is sending us.

The biggest overlap between seasons and relationship involves life on life with the leadership of the local body.

Truly, anyone helping to guide God’s flock must have a finger on the trigger of the congregation.

We never attained this level of relationship but did have the final goal of regular (weekly and daily where possible) communion (not mere consistent constant communication) with elders.

We sought family-ness in all things. Pray actually brings that about. Pray and worship, true worship brings about change….and if prayer is never-ceasing then shouldn’t change be never-ceasing, from glory to glory?

Among the team, we used the seasons and the rhythms of the lives of our families to eat together, play together, rest together. We prayerfully sacrificed “work” for the goal of Sunday to press in as the family of Christ and grow each other in our spiritual gifts, and how can we do that when we literally don’t fellowship or even sometimes know each other?

That being said, we also worked and failed (especially in the beginning) at stating clear expectations for personal devotion and disciplines for ALL the works being done.

People in all cultures are by nature “story-formed”. There is a primary narrative that shadows our entire lives.

We cannot minister to a congregation without knowing the collective story.

We should be living “life on life”, open lifestyles that display the gospel cleaning up all the mess(-es).

This might include house calls, hospital visits, phone calls, never ceasing text messaging, text praying as well as all other forms.

4. Training

A favorite verse for this is very militant.

A New Age of Equipping must take place.

So if everything I’ve mentioned so far is being carried out only by us or only our “team” we’ve failed.

How do we show our team? Do they come along with us? Yes, but they come along with us as we bring a mixture of those outside (the way, even) and within the congregation and allow them to see ministry as Jesus carried it out.

We must be as soldiers, giving tools, giving weapons, teaching to weld them, practicing on one another.

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