From Great Struggle to Great Commission

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Daniel, still green in his senior pastor role, was concerned—and perplexed. As he sat in the church elders meeting, he tried to remain calm, but he knew what was coming. The worship arts ministry was on the agenda yet again!

As Daniel listened to complaints from church members unhappy with the worship, he wondered if he was experiencing déjà vu. Then another elder brought up the criticism that worship team volunteers were worn out and wanted more pastoral support. Daniel felt his throat tighten as he became more and more uncomfortable.

If he were honest, he couldn't disagree with anything that was said at the meeting. He would probably word the situation differently, but he shared many of the same concerns.

The remarks in the meeting went something like this:

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People in the weekend services sometimes say they feel the presence of the Lord, other times not.

Excellence is hit or miss among the volunteers in the worship ministry.

For that matter, there never seem to be enough worship ministry volunteers!

And, Daniel wondered, all of this might just be responsible for the lack of growth our church had been experiencing lately. Why can't we solve this?

No doubt, many worship leaders can relate to this. If it sounds like your church, you're in good company. You're perfectly normal if you find yourself with these and similar problems in church worship ministry.

About a week after this meeting, as Daniel was asking me for input, I asked him a question: "How many people are involved in your worship ministry?"

"About 50," he said.

"What if I told you that you could have hundreds involved, solve the problems you mentioned and reach your community for Christ at the same time?" I asked.

"I'd say you're a snake-oil salesman," he said with a sly grin.

I replied, "I know I'm making this sound too simple, but here's the hard truth. You don't have enough people in your worship ministry!

"Based on your church attendance, you could have anywhere from 350 to 500 people involved and ministering in the arts in your congregation. And you are missing a grand opportunity to reach people with the gospel and to make disciples."

Numbers matter to Daniel—and to you.

Some years ago, Gallup did a survey that found slightly more than one in two households (54 percent) have a member who plays a musical instrument. In addition to that, in 48 percent of the households where at least one person played an instrument, two or more other household members also played an instrument. And these numbers are growing.

The survey results "demonstrate that more Americans are enjoying the benefits of playing music than ever before," said Joe Lamond, president and CEO of the National Association of Music Merchants. "This says a lot about the public's growing awareness of research linking music-making with increased brain development in young children, student success in school and health and wellness in older adults and seniors."

If so many people have an interest in, and even an aptitude for, music (leaving out the broader category of "the arts" for now), why is there such disparity between the number of people who like music enough to play an instrument and the number of people involved in church music ministries?

It is because we are passing up a great opportunity to make disciples using music and the arts as our hook. I contend that the approach most have used to develop their worship ministries is exactly the opposite of what will cause it to grow.

Too often we try to fill slots in our worship ministry because of needs on the team. Instead, we should recognize the individuals with whom God has entrusted us and help them grow into all He intends them to be.

If 40 percent or more of our community has an interest in the arts, then it's likely our congregations can leverage that for:

More than enough volunteers who enjoy the part they get to play in the exciting things happening in the arts in their congregation.

Lost souls drawn to come to church to experience the joys of the arts.

Disciples made through time with mentors and each other.

Excellence and anointing in the arts.

Let us commit to recognize the gifts the Lord has given through His people. Then we can empower and bless them to use their gifts to His glory and purposes.

Tim Sauvé led worship and served on the pastoral staff at a local church for 13 years. He is now president and CEO of Worship Interactive, an international ministry that focuses on unifying the body of Christ through worship mentoring and teaching.

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