In previous blogs I’ve written about the power of “spiritual friendships” in fostering Whole Life Worship. It is very encouraging and empowering when you can meet regularly with a spiritual friend and check in on your Whole Life Worship experiences. Like it says in Ecclesiastes 4:11-12:
If two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone? Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves.
Having a spiritual partner in Whole Life Worship keeps the spiritual fire going and gives strength to overcome spiritual attack. But having a Whole Life Worship Community is even more powerful. Think about what happens when you put logs together that have a few embers going: the spiritual fire becomes a burning blaze!
Over the past two years, we have been trying to foster Whole Life Community into our worship and tech ministry. We have about 40 people in our ministry who are scheduled to be on the team once a month. Most of them subscribe to the wholelifeworship.com blog; and they understand Whole Life Worship concepts.
On any given weekend, we have 7-10 people serving on the team. We have a “team time” (about 20-25 minutes long) where go around the table and every person gets to share what God has been teaching or showing them recently. We then take a few minutes to silently pray for the person on our right and on our left.
When we first introduced this concept, the sharing was guarded and somewhat superficial. But over the course of time, the sharing has become deeper and more meaningful; confidentiality, openness and trust have become a part of our culture. The team members know that whatever is shared during our time, stays with the group.
We’ve also seen greater traction in spiritual growth as we encourage each other. In the last gathering, several shared about what God impressed on their hearts during their Personal Worship Times (a year ago, many of our team members were not even engaged in this spiritual practice on a regular basis). Even more inspiring is to see how areas of brokenness, sin, and character deficiencies are being transformed by God’s power over the course of time. People who used to be caustic are becoming more sensitive and loving. Team members now quickly resolve their differences with others by speaking truth to one another in love, rather than hold onto resentments. And the “drama” that used to be prevalent in the ministry (very common in Worship Ministries, as some of you can attest) is simply not around anymore!
And I’m really thankful for that! We are not simply a “ministry” that does a task. We are not a bunch of musicians and technicians who perform “worship gigs.” Through our intentional connection to Christ as the Head (Eph 4:15-16), we are becoming a family and a community of Whole Life Worshipers. The musical task then becomes more of an “overflow” of our community and our hearts, rather than the focus of all our attention.
Now, I want to state that we are far from being perfect. And I think that awareness is one of the reasons for our success as a community. We all understand that we are sinners in need of grace. We are all broken people who are in the process of transformation by our loving Savior and Lord. And we all know that we have a long ways to go. But the joy is that we are on this journey together; and we’re having a blast!
I think any ministry can become an excellent place to develop Whole Life Worship community. But too often the focus in ministry is on accomplishing the task, rather than the spiritual development of the people. And while that “gets things done,” I believe it goes against the Kingdom mindset that the Bible teaches.
I often share with my worship leaders that when we come before the Throne of God in heaven, our Lord will not say to us things like, “You led an awesome worship service on July 14, 2012” or “Wow, you nailed that song on the worship CD you made.” Rather, He will say to us, “What did you do with the precious people I entrusted you with? Did you help them to respond to My voice? Did you bear with them in their trials and believe in them when they struggled? Did you develop them to their potential as Christ-followers?”
I believe ministry is best accomplished through an environment that nurtures spiritual growth in community. It’s the Whole Life Worship approach.