Vocal Ministry—Some Questions Toward a Profile
January 17, 2019 § 1 Comment
I know I keep coming back to our problems with vocal ministry, but it really weighs heavily on my soul.
I can’t tell how widespread the problem is, but I fear that many of our meetings are in a crisis regarding their vocal ministry. I know mine is. Friends have stopped attending meeting for worship because the vocal ministry drives them nuts. I’ve done this twice myself in the past few months.
I don’t yet have any answers to this problem, but I do have some questions, and I’m hoping that airing these questions out loud, as it were, here in this blog, might unlock something, in myself and/or in my readers. I am praying for a breakthrough.
With the questions that follow, I hope to profile the problem.
What? What is happening?
Lots of worship sharing. Some harangues. Personal opinions, basically stand-up blog posts. Appeals for help. Demands for attention. Musings and anecdotes from the speaker’s past week. Hand-wringing about the state of our society and especially of our politics. A dearth of the Spirit and of the spirit of service.
A lot. Cascades of shallow, jarring, or merely personal messages filling the hour, especially the twenty or so minutes before the children come in ten minutes before rise of meeting. But also, unnervingly often, in the first twenty minutes, before we’ve had a good chance to settle and while the latecomers are still trickling in.
In loud, commanding voices. In voices so soft that even the only moderately hearing-impaired like me can’t hear it. Mostly quite confident; not much humility.
Lots of relative newcomers. Some more seasoned Friends. Rarely from our most seasoned elders.
I suspect that some of the relative newcomers simply have not yet been fully baptized in the Spirit. Also, they have learned what’s appropriate ministry by osmosis and that means that the current predominance of weak vocal ministry in the meeting makes it look like that’s what’s appropriate. It’s an unvirtuous circle, a feedback loop.
The disquiet that this culture creates in the more seasoned members and the sheer frequency of messages work together to suppress the ministry we might get from more seasoned Friends, so we hear fewer models of more Spirit-led ministry. It’s a feedback loop.
Some people seem desperate for a platform, for the sense of having been heard, for being known in a deeper way than is available in the rest of their lives.
And finally, our current culture of ministry continues because our worship and ministry committees are paralyzed, unable to address the problem for various reasons. I want to get deeper into this last problem in my next post.