Over the years I have been observing the different methods that ministers of music, worship leaders, and pastors use in making changes occur in their ministries and churches. Each person tends to go about things in their own way with regard to style and method. Some use their personalities to help facilitate change. Still others prefer to get things done in a hurry. A respectable percentage are slow and methodical in their efforts. There is no perfect way to approach change. However, your task will be much easier if you will refrain from forgetting those who are in your congregation. You will create less heartache for yourself and the church. Our good intentions can destroy the mission when we move too fast and leave people behind. We tend to count those who oppose our efforts as throwaways and those who jump on board with you as visionaries.
When we examine where we are and where we wish to go in worship, we have to take into consideration those we have been called to lead. I have known several music ministers that practice the “hold on to your seats” method of change, because it’s sudden and powerful. There is little regard for the many saints who have been doing it one way for decades. Change sweeps over the church like a mighty wind and carries off those who fail to get on board. We cannot disregard the perceptions of worship that these believers have. Before effecting change, you need to realize that for thirty, forty, or more years for many of these sweet saints, this wasn’t how church was done. To now come to church and experience nothing that is familiar, can make them defensive because they don’t understand why the changes occurred to start with. If we are going to make it in ministry, we have to keep the people first and our desires second.
If you are like me, you respond with “We need to get going now! We have wasted too many years and are so behind in style. We are totally out of touch with our culture and community.” This is when I have to stop myself, put my personal desires on hold, and look at Jesus. He spent thirty years planning and preparing for three years of ministry. I wonder if He ever thought, “These people are out of it” or “They need to catch up with the times.” In my mind’s eye, thirty years is a long time to spend before change can occur. We need to remember that Jesus spent those thirty years preparing to make the change. How long have you spent? Our impatient society tells us that it has to happen now! We can’t wait ten years before change begins. I am not willing to waste that much time on the hope that change will occur! What to do?
What can we do? Be faithful to the Lord. If He has called you to help with change, then get ready for it. Pray for it and pray that the people will be open to receive it. It may happen in a year, or it may take twenty. No one can say when or if it will happen. What we do need to do is stop worrying about our desires, and seek God’s desire. He will make the change when and if He desires it. What He seeks from us is the willingness to be open and obedient to what He wants. We need to seek His will and then make it an integral part of what we do. Begin today by dying to self and to your desires. It’s easy to serve when we are in control. It’s when we give everything to God that things get tough. Besides, why would I want to make things happen? Why should I worry about the repercussions when God is so much more capable of handling them? It’s so easy to rely on our gifts and strength to get things done, but we need to remember that God has promised that He will take care of everything. When we are led by the Spirit of God and become in tune to His leading, we will do the right thing at the right time. When we don’t, watch out! God is in control of our ministries, and ultimately He will make change occur in His perfect time. All we are required to do is love the people and wait on God.
As the title suggests, there are no throwaways in our churches. There will always be the ones we want to let go because of their opposition or complacency. There will always be those who feel it is their mission is to oppose everything we do because they feel any change compromises the integrity of the church. We need to remember that God loves them as much as He loves us. It’s easy to say, “Watch out! We are moving in this direction and you can get on board or get left behind.” I don’t believe that God will honor a ministry that runs over people to be successful. If you have someone who doesn’t like what you are doing, sit down with them one on one and share your heart for worship and your direction from the Lord. If you love them and they know why you are doing what you are doing, they will be more apt to join in and support you.
Don’t throw them away. Don’t toss them aside to meet your agenda. God will not be honored in it. If we will take the time to know the people and love them along in the process of teaching worship, we will see our ministries flourish in the Lord. God will be honored and He will grant us the desire of our hearts.