I think I’ve messed some things up. I’ve let things get out of whack. And I think I have bought into a warped mindset and even done an amount of damage teaching other people the same mindset I’ve learned.
The whole thing comes down to two words, “to” and “for.” Yeah, I know, they aren’t big words.
If I gave $100 to you it would be different than if I gave $100 for you. Do you see the difference?
Giving $100 to you is a gift with no strings attached. But giving $100 for you implies that the gift has a purpose – pay bills, buy groceries, use it to meet your need and know that I gave it to you. We like to tie strings to the gifts we give.
I think I’ve been working hard at ministering FOR God instead of ministering TO God. When I minister FOR God the focus is on me and what I am doing. I tie strings and bring expectations.
If I attend a worship service, I should come to bless God’s heart, to minister to Him. When I don’t, I end up evaluating the experience based on what I get out of it. I focus on the music leader, the way the message was delivered and even the atmosphere. I pass judgment on the people and rate them for how friendly or unfriendly I perceive them to be. I might as well be a judge at a gymnastics competition. I could even hold up rating signs throughout the service to let people know how I feel.
A couple months ago I had an awesome experience at the Exponential Conference for church planters. One thing was kinda bizarre though. The exhibit hall was filled with a variety of attractive banners, web design packages, logo companies and video resources. I could sign-up for a theater church, buy a complete portable church sound and light system in a trailer. It was all contemporary, relevant and perfectly polished, Very nice. What was weird to me was that it was attracting people who were dissatisfied with the “instutional” church with its big buildings and budgets wanting to exchange it for the “organic.”
What I wonder is, is it just more modern package for the same basic systems? Why are people complaining about big budgets and then dropping 50 grand on a kicking sound system complete with haze and pin spots?
When I lead worship, my goal must be to minister to God’s heart and not put on a performance that I rationalize is “for Him.” If I invite others to minister to God’s heart by offering themsleves, I lead worship. When the focus is on my singing or playing for God, I am blessed but God is not.
When I teach people to work for God, I miss the point. Instead I should teach that the key is in blessing our holy God. If we forget that, our good deeds bring attention to us and lift us up while God plays second fiddle.
I want to minister TO God instead of working for Him. I want to bless Him with no strings attached. I don’t want to repackage the same system in a new, flashy package.
It’s God’s party. We’re invited.