Today, we welcome back Rod Ellis, Worship Coach, for a guest blog post. I recently asked Rod to share his thoughts on an “open letter” of sorts from a young worship leader to a veteran worship leader…and vice versa (an open letter from a veteran worship leader to a younger one). Soak in what Rod has to say and enjoy his perspective. At the end of this post you can see Rod’s contact info about his services as a Worship Coach.
I have a bit of an unusual perspective. The last year of Baby Boomers were born the year before me. That means I am sort of like a Boomer, but not too much. And it means the Builder generation are the age of my parents. There are two distinct generations ahead of me.
And as a first year Gen-X guy, I don’t necessarily fit those characteristics pefectly either. Yet I can’t help but think I’m more relational than Boomers, at least more concerned with relationships that with excellence. And then there are the Millennials/Gen Y folks or Internet generation, so I can see 2 younger generations pretty clearly too.
What’s the point?
I have some things I’d like to say to those who have gone before me in ministry. And I have some things to share with those coming behind, too.
To those who have gone before…
Thank you. Really, that’s the most important thing I can think of to say. You have worked hard. You have loved people. You have loved God. And while history will have more to say about your contribution to the world as church leaders than I can begin to see from this vantage point, please know that we are thankful for your faithfulness. You have seen the world change in mind-blowing ways. And yet, in spite of the swirling circumstances, you have staid the course. Thank you for showing me possibilities.
Oh, and thank you for a heritage that is rich in textual depth. I keep singing old hymns and finding new truths. That’s because the music you chose to form the church’s song has incredible staying power. That is, no doubt, part of what has held you steady in the midst of turmoil. After all, “All the weak find their strength at the sound of His great name and hungry souls receive grace at the sound of His great name“.
If I might offer one word of admonition, and I do so with quite a bit of “fear and trembling,” it would be that I hope you age into grace, not out of it. So many of the people we have known who are in their retirement years have become harder on people than is helpful. It reminds me of something I heard Ravi Zacharias say recently: “How many people walk into our churches desperately looking for answers and find hostility amongst us?” Please receive those who have been running away from God and/or the church like the Father welcomed the prodigal son, with a hug and a party.
And to those who are coming after…
Your passion is inspiring. It really can be part of what God uses to ignite a revival in our land. Please keep your passion focused on the things God clearly speaks about in His Word, not on the things we have to infer. If God says it, do it. If God is silent, maybe we should be too. (This applies to worship styles, of course, but also to moral issues and doctrinal positions.) So make sure your passion is honest and authentic by finding its source in The Source. Keep drinking from the fountain of Living Water, not from the spewing forth of water processors. In other words, turn your eyes upon Jesus. Look full in HIS wonderful face. And you may find that the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of HIS glory and HIS grace.
Please do a better job than I have done at creating a system of sacred music education for the next generations. Because the model was changing so dramatically around us, most in my generation have either followed the old model or just let it fall. We need to raise a generation of people who can lead worship for their generation. Please do better than many of us have done.
This probably sounds cliche, but keep finding ways to use hymns. Not to appease old folks, but to enrich young folks. Repackage them. Update the harmonies. Modify the rhythms a bit. Maybe even tweak the text to make it more understandable. But please, don’t lose out on the heritage that was handed down to me, and which I’ve tried to hand on to you. It is rich. It is a gift.
Remember, more than we probably should, we get our theology from what we sing. So offer as full a picture of God as you can. The Psalms are a great example in their honesty and breadth. You are a shaper of the theology of those you lead. A high and holy calling, to be sure.
Last, for now, allow the Lord to be the source of your joy. And then live out as joyously as you can. As has been said, joy is serious business. And it is God’s business. So make worship joy-filled. Even fun. I can’t imagine people–especially children–being drawn to a somber Savior. And I don’t imagine people will be drawn to a somber service of worship either.
Live in joy. Live out joy.