Learning a Grace-Filled Approach to Ministry: Understanding
It’s a time of rants, cynicism, and reactionism. Our world needs to be introduced to grace. At the same time, our churches need to be reminded of grace. Are our ministries characterized by grace? How can we grow in grace in such a way that it leads everything from our staff meetings to Sunday morning interactions with hurting people? This is Part 3 of a series on learning a grace-filled approach to ministry (see Part 1 and Part 2). Although my area of focus is worship ministry, these ways of grace can be applied to just about any arena of ministry.
A grace-filled worship ministry seeks to have understanding of the people being served, their life situations, and what will bless them in worship. Some of my earliest mistakes in worship ministry came from a prideful heart in which I thought I already knew everything about leading worship since I had been through four years of Bible college. I don’t think I’m alone in that experience. It would be several years into my first full-time ministry where God fully wrecked me by his grace, convicting me of hidden sin and blatant pride.
I used to be pretty legalistic. I would hold others to standards that I wasn’t willing to keep myself in my own heart. On the outside, things may have looked pretty good, but I was rotting away on the inside.
When God’s grace truly got a hold of me, all of a sudden I began to seek to understand people as a way to lead them.
The apostle Peter encouraged husbands to live with their wives in an understanding way (1 Peter 3:7), and I feel this is not only a good practice for marriage but for a grace-filled approach in ministry.
One of the most prominent ways I feel that understanding is shown in worship ministry is in the way we treat our volunteers. As a “details person,” I am pretty particular about how I expect services to flow and go. I aim for excellence…not flashy…but purposeful. I desire that our volunteers who serve on the praise team share that same pursuit. Some do (even more than me, perhaps); some do not.
When a vocalist texts me minutes before rehearsal to say they can’t make it because something else came up, my internal response is usually not the most grace-filled, but when I show understanding, I will patiently express how much that person will be missed at rehearsal…and then we navigate a plan to make sure they’re ready for Sunday morning.
Some worship leaders might read that example and think I’m being too soft; that I should show greater concern for the quality and expectations of our team, for the high calling of leading God’s people in praise. Maybe so. But if I’m going to make a mistake, I’d rather err on the side of grace.
One of the phrases that comes out of our team quite often is: “Hey look, the Kingdom’s still standing!”
In other words, things don’t always work out the way we’d prefer, but if we show understanding toward one another, by God’s grace, He honors that and still gets the job done.