Friday, August 14, 2009

volunteer is not a bad word

I have the honor of volunteering at one of the best churches in the world. Everything we do is first class and our youth program is second to none. We have some of the best volunteers in the world. Men and women who will stop at nothing to help spread God's love to our community.

And yet, there are still those who don't get it. People who think they aren't in "real" ministry because the church doesn't cut them a check. And even some who work for the church, but in a "non-ministry" role. These people have been misled.

First of all, if we all worked at the church, who would pay us? The church needs talented men and women to go out and make money. We have to pay for the lights to come on, the sound system, the toilet paper (can you imagine a church with no toilet paper?)

Second, we would all have no experience in the real world. We would all live in this giant bubble of ministers. How would we relate to anyone if we ran across someone who didn't work at our church?

My point is this. We were all called to be a part of something greater than any one of us. Yes God called you to that church and wants you to grow in your position of leadership as you grow in Him. But not all roads lead to a job. They shouldn't. You should worry less about getting noticed by someone who could hire you and worry about the people God called you there to reach. Jesus said when we did these things "for the least of my brethren" you've done it unto me. Jesus wants us to see him in the outcasts, not the squeaky clean shiny happy christian people.

(Personal rant time) The Pastor will notice you more if you stop inviting him to Sunday dinner and instead look around the church to see if theres some trash that needs picked up, or a floor that needs swept or a maybe a rogue four year old who's wandered to the edge of the parking lot and is thinking about playing in the street. 1. The pastor really wants to go spend some time with his family. 2. If you do those things, you'll save the church from paying someone else to do it and from a lawsuit with an angry truck driver and a dead squirrels bitter son.

Monday, August 3, 2009


Imagine with me if you will, a conductor is given a magnificent new symphony. It’s a special symphony, hand-crafted by the composer just for him. At first he learns all the parts on his own, preparing for auditions. He begins to surround himself with the right musicians for the piece, slowly growing his ensemble. As more members join to fulfill the vision of this huge stroke of musical genius, the best of each section become section leaders earning the rank of first chair. Each musician, according to his or her level of expertise, is given a part to play. As the individuals learn their parts and join in the rehearsal, a sweet sound begins to emerge. Layer upon layer of chords and runs that have never been so beautifully interlaid begin to crescendo and grow until the music that is heard begins to come alive. The Conductor, baton in hand, begins to make adjustments. As he begins to move the musicians that have come into the right sections and work on pitch and timing, the sounds get clearer, crisper... and what started on a piece of paper given to the conductor alone, has now become an awe-inspiring passion for a group of musicians. Musicians striving to convert their conductors vision out through the ends of there instruments into the hearts of those who would come to experience this song.

Perhaps you’ve already guessed where I’m going with this. We are a group of musicians, who have been given a conductor. You might call him Pastor or Reverend. He was sent to your church by the composer, the Almighty Father, to lead your orchestra, your church, into a beautiful song written for you to share with your community and the world. Every song is different, but it conveys the same message, the life changing story of a Father who sent his son to save the world, a community, a person.

My hope is that through this experience you might see that your church has one conductor who has been given a vision from the composer. Everyone else is a musician who must play their part and learn to play it well. We must let him and the section leaders he has chosen, help to find the place where our sound fits best and plug into the greatest song ever played.

My parents are my heros. I learn so much from them and thank God for putting such an amazing example in my life. For as long as I can remember, they had been children’s pastors at our local church in a small town in Kansas. After serving faithfully for longer than I’ve been alive, God gave them a different direction as they plan for retirement and look to spend more time with their grandchildren. When asked how they would cope with not being children’s pastors any longer, my dad said the most profound thing. “I’m not a children’s pastor. I’m in the ministry of helps. There was a need and we filled it.” Truth be told, my parents didn’t just minister to children, they cleaned toilets, they fixed leaky roofs, they made chili for outreaches. They were just musicians in a small ensemble that was tuned into the vision of a conductor, and their song is one of the sweetest I’ve ever heard.