Your Service of Worship…

This last weekend, I got to take a van load of some of the best of the next generation to the Student Leadership Summit at Nebraska Christian College. It was great. I graduated from there 20 years ago (whoah!), and had a great college experience, so I always have high expectations when I have the chance to be on campus. Since my daughter will be enrolled there next year (whoah again!), there’s a new layer of processing that’s happening as I think about the college and what they’re doing for the Kingdom and the next generation of college students.

As one of many alumni and a supporter of the college, as a visiting youth pastor and a soon to be father of a freshman, I found myself observing, critiquing, and participating in the event from all kinds of angles.

We got all checked in, and after a fun opener that involved a drum line of trash cans, lids, buckets, stools, and about anything else that the drummers could bang on, the student band took the stage. During the first song, which was fast, loud, and a celebration of coming together in the presence of God, I had two thoughts in quick succession:

  1. This band of college kids is really, really good. The technical proficiency and production were great. The school is doing a great job teaching these aspects in the worship arts department that my daughter is heading into. That’s exciting because she’s got a gift that needs next level development – and I don’t doubt that’s going to happen.
  2. But, I hope they’re still doing as well at developing a spirituality deep enough to sustain young worship leaders in their discipleship walk as they confront the realities of being worship pastors and leaders off the stage day after day in local church settings. Performers are easy to come by… we need leaders of worship.

It’s one thing to be a good musician/performer who can capture and hold a crowd’s attention and garner their participation for a weekend. It’s a gift… and it can be a good gift when it’s used well. But it’s another thing to walk with Christ through a life of leading other people to live lives of sustained worship. And it requires a lot more, I think. Mostly, it requires a depth of relationship with God that strengthens us enough for the task.

Immediately after the first song, the band led a song that was all about NOT performing. I know they didn’t have me in mind when the set list was made… but this was the first part of an answer to my question. “We’ve learned to be good musicians, but we’re after a heart connection with our Maker, not applause.” A second piece to answer the question came at the end of the weekend:

Groups were loading up and heading home. Since Emily needed to do a quick interview to get set up for starting classes next year, we were moving a little slow, visiting with another former student who will graduate later this year. (You WILL finish, Shane, you WILL finish!) My wife, LuAnn made a quick visit to the restroom before we hit the road and found all the affirmation of where the heart of NCC still is. That sounds really weird so let me explain. She found Nina… who had done an awesome job leading from the stage all weekend… cleaning the restroom. After a weekend of a couple hundred kids in the building and all that that entails, the worship leader was cleaning the restroom.

And she was still engaged in worship.

No lights. No cameras. No applause.

Just something that needed done and a heart willing to take action to do it.

Well done.

Looking for Joshua(s)

In Numbers 27, Moses is told by God that he is not going to be able to lead the people into the promised land. Moses accepts this as a consequence of his sin (with a little bit of passing the buck revealed in Deuteronomy), but is still concerned for the people. As he thought about the people of Israel moving on without him, he asked God to make it clear who the new leader would be, “that the congregation of the Lord may not be as sheep that have no shepherd.”

God drew Moses’ attention to Joshua (who had been an aid to Moses for decades) and told him to “invest him with some of your authority” so the people would follow. So Moses commissioned Joshua with clear direction from God.

For the last 20 years, I’ve been looking for Joshuas. Don’t worry, I haven’t received any directive from God to go wander out into the mountains to die or anything, but much of my student ministry has been geared toward helping students be the Joshuas in their own story – to find and lead ministries of their own. I love seeing potential (that God has placed within people) catalyzed and made kinetic. The last couple weekends have brought some great reminders for me of how that’s been fruitful.

A Roomful of Joshuas!

One of those moments came over a weekend ski trip – with two recently graduated students as part of the team leading our group. Additionally, a couple other former students were leading another group from a church nearby, and another former student was the speaker for the event. It’s incredibly humbling to see so literally how our influence outreaches us by miles!

 

“We are what they grow beyond… that is the true burden of all masters.”

-Yoda

I may or may not be qualified to argue with the diminutive green guru, but I think he’s only partially right. “We” are indeed what they grow beyond – the starting blocks that help them launch forward into lives of ministry and service. But the fact that our students grow beyond us is not only our burden… It is our hope. We hope they will do what we have only dreamed of. We hope they will accomplish what we have been afraid to try. We hope they will go where we can’t…

And in God’s grace, they will!