The church as a field vs. the church as a force
Years ago when we lived in California we had a pastor (Butch Pluimer) who taught about the differences between viewing the church as a field (i.e. a mission field, the place where non-believers should be brought to come to Christ) and the church as a force. He felt that so many people viewed the church as a field instead of realizing that they could take the Gospel beyond the walls to become a force to influence our culture.
Pastor Joe Fuiten, our pastor at Cedar Park, taught a message this morning about the influence the church should have in the world today. He made a very compelling argument that we should not be ashamed of the Gospel, nor should we shrink from fighting for the rights of Christians, lest our ability to share the Gospel with others be restricted to the point of being snuffed out. I was really quite inspired by his words.
The rank and file
One of the things I believe must happen, though, for the rank and file in the pews to reach the world in this way is for them to be involved in ministry, of which there are certainly plenty of ways to do so. My thoughts, however, are drawn to one area of ministry – that of music and drama (if you know me, I’m sure you aren’t surprised ). My wife and I have been involved in music and drama ministry for most of our Christian walks, and something we notice is that opportunity breeds improved competence which breeds more opportunity. How are people to get involved in reaching our world through music and drama if they don’t have opportunity, and how are they to improve in their competence if they are not provided the opportunity?
There are some terrific things going on in our church in both these areas. Pastors Peter Blue and Aaron Welk are taking Canvas Ministries all over the world teaching others how to build their worship ministries, and they are involving people – especially young people – in worship ministry right here in Bothell. Pastor Daniel Perrin is bringing extremely talented musicians and drama directors from the professional world as we present professional-quality musicals and is growing the skills of the individuals in the choir. Both of these ministries are extremely important for the local church and for the church at large.
What’s missing? Opportunity
However, I believe there is something missing. There are a number of people who want to be involved in these two ministries but for one reason or another can’t, people who have been involved in the past in significant ways but can’t be now. Why is this?
I contend that it is largely due to lack of opportunity.
If there is no opportunity for a musician to be involved in music ministry or an actor to be involved in drama ministry unless he has reached a certain level of competence, how do we expect those with a desire to be involved to do so? Note that I am not advocating allowing just anyone with absolutely no skill to participate in these ways. Certainly there must be a base level of competence. However, I would take a mediocre actor with a willing heart over a great actor without one any day, because the mediocre actor can be trained – maybe not to the same level – and community can be developed through the kind of commitment offered between the church and that actor.
The bottom line
The bottom line point I am trying to make here is that to reach the world we need to raise up people within our congregation, providing the appropriate opportunities and training.
Michelle and I are an example of this. We started in drama and music ministry with the Victor, the annual passion play produced by Cedar Park for 18 years or so (the last year we produced this play was in 2006). Through that ministry we grew in our passion for ministry, for people, and for drama. We founded Catalyst Drama Ministry which grew from a small team performing a series of sketches to presenting missions plays and leading worship not only at Cedar Park but also at churches and prisons across Washington state. We were afforded the opportunity to be involved and then to be trained, which provided us with more opportunity to reach beyond the walls of Cedar Park. But none of it could have happened without the support of the church. It is and always has been an extension of the ministry at Cedar Park.
How do we make that happen again?