You show up to rehearsal ready to go. You’ve spent hours rehearsing the intricacies of a particular part, learning vocal lines and harmonies, and preparing to play with other musicians. All of this is good and completely necessary, but there is something just as important and often easily overlooked.
Joining Jesus in mission together with other believers is one of the most unifying and powerful forces in the world. We get so caught up in accomplishing the task at hand that we forget to look around and realize there are others standing right beside us. We’re in this together. A beautiful thing happens when we embrace a culture of relationship and discipleship over performance. The scripture even implies that there is great blessing when we live together in unity.
Behold, how good and pleasant it is
when brothers dwell in unity!
It is like the precious oil on the head,
running down on the beard,
on the beard of Aaron,
running down on the collar of his robes!
It is like the dew of Hermon,
which falls on the mountains of Zion!
For there the Lord has commanded the blessing,
Psalm 133:1-3 (ESV)
It is “good” and “pleasant” when we are in unified community with one another. The Lord uses these relationships to bless us in many profound ways.
Why do we craft community?
I haven’t always been the best at community building. There were years that I was so focussed on surviving ministry that I didn’t take the time necessary to build others up. As I began to be more intentional about this, here’s what I learned:
A unified community…
prevents disunity. When we gather together, taking time to hear each other’s stories, a funny thing happens. We start to care for those around us. No longer are people just a means to accomplish a task. The task becomes a means of creating relationship. When conflict arises, and it will, we value people over being right. We seek forgiveness and restoration over proving our point.
propels the Mission. When we live in a community that is not unified, we cloud our witness to others. Paul writing to the church in Phillipi says:
Do all things without grumbling or disputing, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world,
Phillipians 2:14-15 (ESV)
Living together in a state of unity allows the light of the Lord to shine through us to the world. People will see God by how we love each other. We are able to strengthen and encourage one another as we reach out together to the world around us.
is a great support. Being in community is just plain fun. It’s a huge blessing to get to know those we serve with. We can be there to pray for each other, carry burdens, speak the Word of God to each other, and love one another in a powerful way.
How do we craft community?
It takes unhurried time with each other… that’s it. Often this is enhanced by a great craft (see what I did there) beer or cup of tea. It takes listening asking questions without thinking of what you are going to say next. During this time we hear people’s stories and we can speak encouragement.
Have a regular gathering. At Shepherd’s Gate, we go out every Thursday evening after rehearsal to a local eatery with any of the volunteers who care to join. Sometimes that’s 4 people, sometimes it’s 12, but it’s always worth it. This place has some great food and a fantastic beer selection. We started doing this with just a handful of people, but now it has spread to the worship ministries of several other churches. That means that on any given Thursday night the pub could be filled with worship folks from several local churches, not just creating community among themselves but with the bar staff, friends, and anyone there. It’s a beautiful thing!
Celebrate Together. We recently had an All Worship Arts Volunteers Christmas Party. The sole purpose of this gathering was to show appreciation to our teams and have a great time together. My wife and I opened our home to 40+ people as we laughed, ate together, and celebrated all that God had done in our ministry over the past year. It was awesome!
Take people to lunch. Every month I try to take at least one of the worship arts volunteers to lunch. There usually isn’t much of an agenda besides checking in, praying for each other, and taking time to speak words of affirmation about the great things that I see God doing through them. (As a rule of thumb, I don’t make one on one lunch appointments with members of the opposite sex. This protects me and honors my wife.)
As we embark on this new year let’s spend as much time discipling and building community as we do accomplishing any single task.