Several years ago, when our church was first experimenting with multi-media platforms in our worship service, our team was evaluating the service. In the course of our conversation, Dave, who had designed the slides for my sermon, mentioned that if he had gotten my request earlier in the week, he would have had time to rework some of the images and the slides would have been much more effective. He was a little frustrated the slides didn’t reflect his best work.
You know how it goes. When you first start talking about doing something in your worship service, the deadline is always Wednesday. Of course, I never made that, and most of the time I handed in my requests by Thursday. If I was really pressed, I wouldn’t apologize for getting them to Dave on Friday.
After all, I am a very busy senior pastor of a church.
But I heard something in Dave’s voice. He wasn’t angry at me. He was disappointed in himself. He was frustrated he hadn’t been given the chance to use his best efforts to support the worship service. He had wanted his design to be useful to Christ. His work was a sacrifice, something he had brought to offer Christ as his act of worship.
I had frustrated his worship. According to Jesus, blocking someone’s access to worship is a serious offense. Remember Jesus cleaning out the Temple and reminding His disciples if they got in the way of a child coming to Him, it would be better for them to tie a stone around their neck and jump off the nearest bridge. I had gotten in the way of Dave bringing his best gift to Jesus. I had sinned against Dave and Christ.
I had no idea. Of course, as a pastor, that’s the way I think about my sermons. They are constructed to be useful in the Spirit’s work in the midst of my congregation.
Dave felt the same way about his slides.
And the sound team thought the same way about the sound of the worship.
The lighting team felt the same way about how the platform looked.
There are few moments this holy.
Every one of them brought their best work, asking Christ to bless their meager efforts to His glory. Maybe they couldn’t sing, but they could make sure the singer was heard. Maybe they couldn’t preach, but they could keep the congregation focused on where they focused their lighting.
Each gift, each effort, was critical to the success of our worship services. If you don’t think so, try preaching in the dark or with a sound system popping and hissing under your voice. Most of the time, we only think about our tech teams when something goes wrong. Let a microphone not work or a cue be missed, and we don’t mind telling them how frustrate we are. When things go right, no one says a word.
A few weeks ago, in an emergency meeting on Friday, we had just gotten word the governor of Tennessee was asking us not to have large gatherings in our church. After deciding the love of our neighbors called for us to work with our governor, we asked our tech team to be ready to do a live online service for Sunday morning.
I asked my team to totally rework our worship experiences and be ready to stream it live online, and I asked them to do all of that in less than 48 hours.
And they did it.
And they did it well.
Every week, they got better. Every week, they had notes on where I should stand, how long my sermon should be (attention span is different when people watch online), and what I should wear. Their insights were professional, insightful, and dead on.
We had more people engage our Easter service than at any time in the history of our church – and it wasn’t close. This all happened because our tech team and communications team figured out a way to make something happen in a space where nothing was happening a few weeks before.
The Bible is filled with stories of people who stepped up in a moment of crisis and saved the day. No one is more important than the little boy who brought his lunch to Jesus for Jesus to use to feed the 5,000.
And every week, my church is filled with friends who love Jesus who bring their best gifts, and Jesus, in His mercy, uses them all. My calling as a leader isn’t to be out front all of the time, but to know my team and my people so well that I know who has the gifts and talent to lead our church at any given moment and before any challenge.
Regardless of how unique the challenge is, our God isn’t caught by surprise. He, in His infinite wisdom, has placed someone among us who have the gifts the moment requires. Not only that, but He has been preparing them for this moment. It’s my job, my privilege, to find them and say to them, “The church needs you.”
Esther was made queen for “such a time as this.” When the time was right, Paul writes, Christ called him to reach the Gentiles.
And now, in this time of pandemic and quarantine, Jesus has prepared Adam, Darrel, Morgan, Steve, Dave, Chris and Derek and so many more. I’ve had the privilege of asking them to step up and lead our church through this online transition.
And when they did, I saw them worship. There are few moments this holy.