by Ron Bell, Director of Congregational Development and SBC21 for Peninsula-Delaware Conference (and Path 1 Associate)
A couple of months ago I bought my very first guitar. I’ve got this image in my head of being at an Israel Houston or Hillsong concert and being called out of the crowd to come on stage and lead worship. When I first started playing I sucked. I didn’t know any chords, the tips of my fingers hurt from griping the strings, nothing sounded clear because I was touching more strings than needed, and the whole thing felt silly and uncomfortable.
I’d watch DVDs and YouTube videos of my favorite worship leaders and they all seemed so smooth, so poised, and so relaxed. That was completely different from what I was expressing and experiencing. What frustrated me the most was that I wanted to sing and worship God and I wanted to express my love and gratitude in praise and worship, but couldn’t play the chords.
There are many who sit either in the folded metal chairs in our multi-purpose spaces or in the pristine padded pews of our sanctuary who suffer from this same kind of experience. They want to worship, want to engage, want to express, and want to connect but don’t have the resources or understanding of how to do it.
Often times as mature Christians we take certain skills and levels of understanding for granted, things like participating in communion, understanding baptism or the trinity, finding books in a bible, owning a bible, or singing/reading a hymn. All of those things and more are specialized skills and understandings that come from maturity gained from time spent engaged in church. Many of the people we minister to have not achieved that same level. They are still searching, still reaching, and still seeking God. Let’s not misinterpret their lack of commitment; affect, or disposition to what is going on in the life of our church as uncouth. Instead we should seek to find ways to train, mentor, and connect with them, as we help them find those skills and their voice within the church.
What I’ve learned over the last two months with my own guitar playing is that I’m not Israel Houston or Michael Smith, even when I finally mastered the chord progressions for some of their songs. I still sound like Ronald singing and playing a guitar and the exciting part is that that’s ok. Our goal as ministers of the gospel ought to be to mentor and disciple others to the point to where out of their own expression and experiences, out of their own gifts and talents, and out of their own nuances and personality they are able to freely and with full confidence express the same gospel. Now that’s maturity!
How is your church guiding and training its congregants to become part of the uniting ministry of the church while helping them find their own voice and talents within it?