I’m starting with a rant.
I love going to concerts but I am bothered when the lead singer holds out the microphone and makes the audience sing. Yes, I know the song, but I also know how horrible I sound. I paid to see them perform the song, not for the artist to watch me sing it back to him. This has always bothered me until recently.
A friend and I went to see the artist Ben Rector perform. He is an acoustic and piano rock musician that masterfully weaves profound concepts into his 4-minute songs. He was halfway through his set when he started the song Note to Self. At the end of the bridge, he holds out the microphone to the audience…my pet peeve. Then over 2,000 people shout out “You don’t find peace until you love somebody else.” It is an outstanding line, rich with deep meaning for Christians. Ben Rector brought us into the concert and gave us ownership over an intimate part of the song. It was memorable.
How can you create this moment in ministry? When was the last time you let those you minister to take the wheel, even just for a little bit? That song would have simply been consumed and discarded if it had been sung solely by the artist. He did not perform the song, we did together. Ministry must reflect this reality.
Here are some solid ways to make sure that the ministry you do is done in a way that allows those you minister to have ownership.
Meet them where they are at. I’m sure you have heard this countless times, but I think the best way to meet people where they are at is to be honest about where you are at. Admitting that you struggle with prayer when talking about prayer makes you more accessible and easier to journey with. This task also involves building a relationship and listening more than speaking. You must be real because often the pedestal that many put you on can also be what puts you out of reach or out of touch with those you serve. Be honest, open, vulnerable and authentic. People can see through a phony.
My first year in ministry I made the mistake of giving all the teachings and planning the lion’s share of the presentations. At the end of the year, nearly half of my volunteers moved on due to the fact that the ministry was Chris-centered instead of Christ-centered. Delegating pieces out gives others ownership over what is taking place. Delegation is not just for volunteers. A teen can lead a game or be a score keeper just as good and an adult. Think very small, if you have 2 pizzas in your car; bring a teen along with you to help with the pizza.
Testimonies. Unlike talks, testimonies do not hold a teaching point, but rather speak to experience. Testimonies are shorter than talks or teachings and can be utilized to emphasize a point or aspect of the topic. Teenagers are amazing witnesses and can be more relatable than adults on many subjects. Be sure to work with the teen and let them practice on you at least once. For many youth nights, the teen testimony was more impactful than the dynamic teaching.
Create a Safe Space. Before people are going to take the risk of helping with the ministry, they need to know that it is a safe space even if they fail. Nobody is worthy to carry forth the beauty of the Gospel, but every baptized person is called. For teenagers, even failing to carry out the ministry effectively bears fruit. Ministry involves a significant amount of falling short and allowing the Holy Spirit to make up for what you lack. For a teenager to learn this principle in high school means that they will be able to enter college ready to fight through the multitude of challenges, like the campus atheist group. In ministry, failing should not be feared, not trying or continuing to produce mediocre fruits should be what keeps one awake at night.
So hold out that microphone whenever you can, it ensures that the song is meant to be sung together.