Our church right now is small. We started holding services in April, and have deliberately not promoted ourselves widespread because we are still renovating the building to give it new life. At the same time, we are raising up a ministry team to be prepared serve the people once the floodgates open and the hungry souls come.
As part of our training, our worship team meets Monday nights for practice; we don’t practice only the musical arrangements, but also how to lead and encourage each other in the Spirit. Our pastor, Shannon, has a clear vision of what God has been showing her for the past number of years, and she often corrects our course to keep us on the straight path.
Last night was one of those times. I started to sing a song a certain way. Gladys, one of our pastoral leaders and elders of our church, (and possibly the denomination), asked if I could sing the verse more boldly. I mentioned my reasons for not doing so, and then offered that I couldn’t be sure of what it would look like on Sunday. And that’s when the course correction occurred.
Be careful how you live
Pastor Shannon explained that we are in leadership. When we set foot on the platform, we need to be especially aware of how our presence may affect the congregation. It’s understandable that God manifests His power in certain ways that can break the flow of our daily lives. However, we need to be conscious of how acting out what we feel, at that time, may impact others who may or may not be as in tune with the Holy Spirit to the same degree.
Although it was not directed at any one person in particular, we each felt that we had to change something personally. And I could see that the group was trying hard to overcome any feeling of offense. Thankfully, we are a close-knit group and are willing to be honest and open with each other about everything.
This morning, I recalled this verse:
So be careful how you live. Don’t live like fools, but like those who are wise. Make the most of every opportunity in these evil days. Don’t act thoughtlessly, but understand what the Lord wants you to do. (Ephesians 5:15-17 NLT)
Certainly we don’t know from moment to moment how God is going to move. However, once we step on the platform, we experience God not only personally, but on behalf of the larger body.
Experiences as a writer
As I tossed and turned, processing this lesson overnight, I saw a parallel between our role in ministry and my work as a writer. As a writer, my place is to stay creative. I synthesize volumes of collected research in order to craft a piece so brilliant, so full of life-giving power, that the act of seeing it pour out of me onto paper drains the very essence out of me.
However, the publisher sees a larger picture. While I am busy in the act of creating content, the publisher is interested primarily in making sure the business grows, and ensures that every activity helps toward that goal. The primary written-word products are books. However, the publisher is looking to add spinoff products to the arsenal, to expand the corporate revenue channels.
In between writers and publishers sit the editors, who manage several projects, and many authors. An editor provides value by not only ensuring the writer’s work is produced well, but also lines up with the overall goals and direction of the business. Sometimes an editor will manage the work of several writers on a single project, like a director.
How this ties together
Most everyone who functions in platform ministry fits a role similar to a writer. Worship leaders fall into this category. A worship leader’s job is to do the creative work with ministry, and the congregation. However, a worship leader is stilted when they rely only on musical talent or heart for God. The power of the platform becomes ultimately more effective when the leader is open to Godly editing, usually by a pastor or elder.
The pastors and elders oversee specific groups of leaders as well as the congregation. Their role is to follow the vision and the plan set before them by God, and help the leaders and congregation to fit together. As the focus of pastors and elders is above the details, they are in the best position to help the team to recognize where each fits within the overall structure of not only the service, but of the church direction.
The direction, of course is set by God, who in this model would be the publisher. As a publisher, God’s desire is to see all His children operate together in their element. His vision is clear, that none should perish but all shall have eternal life through Christ Jesus.
Where real life differs from this model is that each of us has a direct connection with God, whereas most writers don’t have a relationship with their publisher. This makes it difficult because when God speaks to us as individuals, He often releases gifts inside of us for Him only.
It’s almost like having a teacher who is also your father, or a pastor who is also your friend. There is a difference between the relationship you experience personally, and the relationship you have with “the office”. While in our own personal worship times, God chooses to relate to us as Father and Friend. He wants us to be free to respond to His love however we choose, and let the Holy Spirit take us places where we’ve never gone before. However, on the platform we need to exercise discernment whenever we encounter “moments” like these.
Could this “moment” be helpful for others? Then God would be responsible enough to provide talking points for us to teach through, just like ministering in tongues with a translation so others may respond. Otherwise, we would do well to treasure those moments in our heart, and seek the Lord for their purpose on our own time.
Throw me a line
I feel encouraged that God chose to give me an illustration that related to my specific situation. Did you catch the drift, or did I miss the mark completely? Let me know by leaving a comment below.
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