busy Our American culture places a high value on being busy.  If at any moment you actually are not busy, you may sense the need to look busy.  Have you ever faked a cellphone call while walking to your car, or sitting in a parking lot?  Have you stood in the grocery store aisle and pretended to check messages on your smartphone, when in reality the last message received was six hours ago?  When a luncheon conversation with a colleague grows the slightest bit monotonous, does your smartphone burn a proverbial hole in your pocket?  In fact, did you know that a recent article indicates the U.S. is the 28th country in the world in regard to “work life balance?”  That is only slightly better than Mexico, and is only nine steps away from being worst in the world.  The June 1 Atlantic Monthly article by Derek Thompson inquires, “If we are so rich, then why are we working so hard that we do not have time to cherish the fruits of our prosperity?”  We are busy people!  We are often busy at being busy, or even just looking busy.

An obsessively busy culture infects those serving as ministry staff, and through busy pastors and people sadly find its ways into the worship environment of our churches.  Worship leaders, consider the apprehension brought about by the mere thought of a twenty-second period of silence.  Many a music leader knows the prospective scorn of a nervous senior pastor or parishioner confronted with that moment of quiet in a worship service where they are not sure what you want them to “do.”  Reactions and sensibilities of this sort are likely a direct result of this “Gotta be busy” mentality that has danced its way into the life of congregations across our land.  Such an ethos is a far cry from “Be still and know that I am God.” (Psalm 46:10)

We have re-labeled places and things in a way that implies more action.  So we no longer construct sanctuaries.  We build worship centers.  Rather than creating space that calls worshipers to a sense of something larger than themselves, we convert rooms into theatrical venues and hang motorized lighting to resemble those settings with which people are familiar in the entertainment world, and try and convince them this is for them.  Rather than surrounding worshipers with stained glass, giving them time to study and soak in scenes from old and new covenants, we flash images in milliseconds to impress religious perception in hopes some of the impressions will somehow stick.

I know….I know….the world has changed.  Indeed it has!  An ever-present struggle of discipleship is measuring how much and in what ways we are to adapt to the world in order to communicate the Gospel into current reality.  Or, on the other hand, the question is how firmly we are to remain rooted in historical foundation, reflecting an unchanging Gospel that is secure as evidenced in its transformative power through all time.

The truth is that in our busy culture, worship planners – leaders – pastors are going to be busy about something.  The question is whether we will be busy about that which God intends, or busy about those things that reflect busy-ness.  In our context, it may be difficult to know the difference.  Here are some cautions to watch out for, some adapted from items listed by Josh Reich, Pastor of Preaching & Vision at Revolution Church in Tuscon, AZ, in his cautions about being a “celebrity pastor.”

Signs you may be about the wrong busy-ness

  • Worship planning is dominated by production issues – tech, performance, personnel, music and visual presentation
  • You are afraid to be away from your church in fear worshipers will like the way the sub leads worship better than when you lead
  • The primary comments you pay attention to regarding Sunday worship is whether or not you were good
  • Conferences you attend are mostly about new songs, new gadgets, or new gimmicks
  • You can’t turn your phone off at night.
  • You worry what people say about you, your songs, or your church on Facebook. You also feel the need to comment on everything or want to know how many likes your last status update got
  • You have to be at every rehearsal or tech meeting and be part of every decision that is made regarding worship
  • You don’t take time off.
  • When you become aware that one of your musicians is engaged in sinful actions, you do not challenge their sin for fear you will hurt their feelings and/or lose their participation
  • You are the bottleneck for all decisions related to worship; they must run through your office. By doing this, you say that you are keeping everyone on the same page, but really it is because you don’t trust that the culture and DNA of your church has spread, which says more about your leadership than your followers
  • You spend more hours and effort planning worship than worshiping
  • You have trouble quieting your spirit for worship in solitude because every scripture or song draws you back to think how it might be effective in the gathered setting
  • You seldom engage in settings where others are leading worship, or place yourself in a support role such as choir singer, worship band player, or other instrumentalist

Steps to regain direction for your sense of calling

  • Pray with an open heart and mind that your spirit would be restored in the joy of God’s salvation by His grace
  • Revisit your spiritual landmarks and ask the Spirit to guide your journey
  • Confess and celebrate your limitations, recognizing that your humanity is a gift of God; ask the Lord to help keep you mindful of these that you might more quickly recognize His Spirit at work
  • Engage in an honest evaluation of all aspects of your ministry and processes, especially those involving worship planning & leadership
  • Invite spiritual partners and leaders to pray for and with you regarding your sense of calling
  • Get your senior pastor or other leadership’s permission to unplug the worship environment for a period of time allowing healthy reflection for you and those you lead
  • Get involved in networks with fellow worship leaders with resolve to avoid a competitive spirit
  • Engage in periodic rest, retreat, and spiritually refreshing worship in settings other than the one in which you hold primary responsibilities
Explore posts in the same categories: Choir Ministry, Church Music, Congregational Singing, Leading Worship, Music Ministry, Private Worship, Singing Worship, Spiritual formation through singing, Worship Leader Relationships, Worship Leaders, Worship Pastors, Worship Reminders, Worship theology, Worship thoughts, Youth Worship

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