Saturday, March 29, 2014
What's the Mix of My Ministry?
"The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised. To preach the acceptable year of the Lord." Luke 4:18-19
At one point in my life, I had the aspirations of becoming a DJ. Yes, you heard me right..a DJ. I have always been a lover of music. Ever since I was a little boy, I loved listening, dancing, and singing to music, new and old. Even as a kid, I loved all kinds of music. The gospel music my mom spun on the record player; the soul and disco my older siblings pushed into the 8 track tape player; the pop, rock and even country I listened to on the radio. When I was a senior in high school, I took a part-time job at a roller skating rink. At some point, I moved from skate rental to working the front door and...Dj'ing (Aaaahh Yeah, 1-2, 1-2). I soon found the power that one can wield from behind the turn tables. One of the best feelings was picking a song that as soon as the beat dropped everybody did the "Ooooooohhh" thing and looked up at me with a smile and a thumbs up, or whatever the equivalent of a thumbs up was in the late 80's. And conversely, one of the worst feelings was to play a song that cleared the floor. So I quickly learned that as a DJ you are always on a quest for the right song and the right sound to get the right crowd. Cause come on, no DJ wants to be the one known for clearing the floor.
Well as time passed, I turned in my head phones, went to college, got a job, got married, started a family, and got called to the ministry. One of those was never a part of my plan by the way. But now as a pastor, I realize that we and DJ's have something in common. Every Sunday, we get the chance to move the crowd, either in our out. Even those in the some churches can get the congregation to wave their hands in the air and wave them like they just don't care. (Us baptist preachers are secretly envious of that). Nevertheless, all of us to varying degrees can affect the people not just by the things we say, the scriptures we read or the prayers we pray. Also by the things we lead our church in, the ministries we start, the programs we allow, the outreach we do, etc. It is a heavy responsibility which is why it requires a high calling.
But we have to be careful to shake off the spirit of the DJ, if you will, because it is real easy to find ourselves as the pastors playing into the reaction of the crowd. As we make adjustments to the mix of our ministry, we have a natural tendency to play up what pleases. We can get caught up in gauging our success and failure purely by the numbers that show up.
I'm concerned because I see some churches cranking up the praise and worship, the social programs, and the fancy facilities, while turning back deep bible teaching and lost soul-reaching. I mean, let's be honest. The work of ministry that Jesus describes in Luke 4 isn't always exciting and usually requires sacrifice. Sharing the gospel, healing the brokenhearted, delivering the captive, and preaching the return of Christ won't always get the crowd jumping. In fact it will straight-up run some people away. Then we as pastors get nervous when we see the numbers, especially when compared to other churches, and we are tempted to tamper with the mix of our ministry.
I have been through it, and sometimes still face it. I think, "What if we had a band?"; or "I think we should do more social programs.", or "What if I dressed cooler". Not that there is anything wrong with any of those things, if God is leading me to it, and it's not at the expense of the other foundational components of ministry. But if in order to turn up those things I might have to dial back what matters most ministry; then God is not pleased.
To my fellow pulpit-pounders, I pray for you while I pray for myself. Let us be faithful to God, and let Him measure the success of our work. Let's encourage one another to not play to the crowd; to be patient while waiting for the seeds we plant to bear fruit, even if we don't get to see it until we reach glory. Let's constantly allow God to evaluate where we are in answering our call by asking ourselves the questions..."What's the mix of my ministry?".