It’s been a while since I blogged. Honestly, I have questioned weather or not to keep the blog running. We have great contributors who have given of their time countlessly to share their insight with you, the readers. Easter season hit and the blogs went away…because we are super busy in the church around that time of year.
After praying it through, God led me to continue some form of this blog. No contributors, just me. The scope may go more “ministry-minded” than simply church music, but I still hope to continue this side of my writing. While I am so grateful for their efforts, they are busy men, too. I want to respect and value their time and ministry.
As I hope you know, the main emphasis of this site is to assist the part-time, bi-vocational, volunteer and dual-role music leaders in the church by providing quick and useful information that they can directly apply in their ministry.
I pray that I can meet your needs and assist you as you diligently do your work for the Lord and His church.
One way God let me know I should continue this blog is that my first church – Pond Run Baptist Church – called me to come and lead music for a revival this week.
I served at Pond Run as a senior in high school and through the beginning part of my freshman year of college. Pond Run is a small (averaged about 30 people), rural church that followed God’s leadership and asked me to come and lead music for the Sunday services. I was green, 18 years old, and thought I knew it all. I failed miserably many times, but they could see through all of that and allowed me to fail and picked me back up and said, “go try again.”
I served there for fourteen months, and about 12 of those months were with a different guest speaker every week. My gorgeous girlfriend (future bride) and I served there and did as much as we could, even led Vacation Bible School for them.
I remember their sweet spirit, loving hearts, and kind attitudes as I served God at that church.
When they called this week and asked me to come lead music there I gladly accepted. It was the least I could do since they gave me my first ministry opportunity. The pastor shared that he had tried to find a preacher, but was coming up short. I gave him the name of my friend, Barry Fields, and that conversation led to Barry coming to preach this past week as well.
It was a joy to see many familiar faces that I hadn’t seen in around sixteen years. They had the same pianist and organist (who love God and the music they play) as when I served there. We sang the familiar foundational hymns of the faith all week. I was honored to have some guest singers join me: Josh Fulkerson, Student Minister at Beaver Dam Baptist Church, Matt Pinkston, Pastor of Students and Worship at Hawesville Baptist Church and my daughter sang as well. My family even came one night and got to see the congregation again.
Barry spoke about being the body of Christ. And, from what I can tell, this seemed to energize and revive their pastor. I pray their people were renewed during this time as well.
One thing I attempt to do at revivals is to introduce one song, teach it to them, and leave it with them for future use in congregational worship gatherings. No one there knew the modern hymn “In Christ Alone” by Keith Getty, so I decided to make that our revival theme song, if you will. The congregation loved the song and their pastor wanted to sing it every single night! The pattern of introducing songs in large gatherings mimics the old camp-meeting days in the 19th century when they would gather by the riversides and sing songs together and spirit-filled revivals would take place.
It was such a joy to be back with the folks of Pond Run again. So much had happened in my life since I left there to go to another church closer to where I was attending college. Since I left there I served in two more churches part-time, got married, had three kids, got my bachelor and masters degrees, and served at now three churches full-time.
So, the revival is leading to a revival of sorts. Leading in worship this past week has reminded me of a few things that smaller churches need our help with:
1. Network – smaller churches need a network (outside of an association) to be a part of. The volunteer/bi-vocational/lay-led leaders need someone to pray with, share with, cry with, rejoice with and love.
2. Contact – smaller churches need not only the help from bigger churches, but they need the help from their ministry leaders, too. It isn’t enough to share VBS materials, Sunday School curriculum or discipleship curriculum with smaller churches that can’t afford it. Think of them when doing large community-wide events, creating ministry teams and/or adopting churches to assist on a regular basis. Ministers, share your time and talents with them. You are trained, educated and get to do something you love 24/7. Share your time with the smaller churches. Communicate, pray for and service with them. Allow them to be a part of your larger church ministry when applicable.
3. Attention – give the pastor, music leader, and sunday school teachers some undivided attention. If you hold a training for your church leaders invite the small church leaders to come, too. Hold a conference for the associational leaders to share insights on: your specific job responsibilities, how you write a sermon, how you divide your, how to plan thematic worship services, how to lead volunteers, a resource seminar, etc. I have organized one of the before…it can be a successful event. Leave much room for them to ask questions and listen to their hearts and needs. Address what you can and then develop relationships with them in the future.
I hope this blog will continue to be of assistance to you as I have time to write and share insights on what I believe are things to assist the church leaders to divide their time up with their families, a full-time job, another part-time job or have many hats to wear in their ministry.