Tuesday, June 20, 2017

What We Learned From Our Worship Pastor Search: Congregationalism in Action

Over the past 9 months we have been in a season of waiting and searching for a new Worship Pastor at NRH Baptist Church. We have learned many valuable lessons. From the beginning of this process, we understood that our Pastors Scott and Danny were fully empowered to search for and hire a new Worship Pastor to replace the great man we lost. Yet, they chose to include and involve us in the process and in doing so, they positioned us to grow and learn in special and meaningful ways. We learned that our pastors have servant's hearts and model godly leadership. Here is what they did and what we learned:

1. They Asked For Our Input
From the beginning, they asked what we were looking for in a worship pastor. The answers overwhelmingly revealed that a servant's heart and humility were the most important character traits to us. We were looking for someone kind, patient and gracious. We also place value on a leader who is dedicated, well-prepared and skillful. This short and simple conversation bore much fruit. We talked about how it was important that our new leader be comfortable and competent working with both a choir and an orchestra. Many of us had been through difficult transitions before and did not want to go through another one. They also sought specific counsel from veteran members of the worship department. While this position was highly desired and sought after, our Pastors took care and time to patiently search and wait for just the right person who is passionate about choir and orchestra and well able to lead us.

2. We Re-Established Our Sense of Purpose and Direction
Through this process, we have clearly established and re-affirmed our churches commitment to a choir and orchestra program. In a day when many churches have long since abandoned their choir and large instrumental groups, we are looking to not only maintain, but to grow and develop in these areas.

We have had meaningful discussions about our position as worship leaders and about serving and leading the congregation to engage in true worship.

We are a multi-generational church and are dedicated to providing an atmosphere of worship that is conducive to engaging all ages in praising God together. This sense of identity has really been codified through this process.

3. We Learned A Lot About Each Other
We got to know our Pastors better in a way that we never would have if they had left us out of the process. We saw what humble, godly men they are and by serving us through their efforts, they helped us to become more service-minded and servant hearted toward each other and the congregation.

We learned that there are many talented people in our church who are capable of directing a choir or instrumental rehearsal and many people, both staff and volunteers had opportunities to lead and help in small, medium, large and enormous ways. We learned to cooperate and come together to keep everything working. Several people had the opportunity to step up in a big way and I am grateful for them.

4. We Learned To Be Humble And Appreciative
As a worship department, we have seen tremendous dedication from those who faithfully showed up week after week. I really respect that. We have learned to offer more helpful input, ask better questions and to interact in a more cooperative and collegial manner. We have learned to show more appreciation to each other. It has been a joy to watch people grow as we approached the end of this season.

5. We Learned The Value Of Accountability
Through each step of the process, our Pastors made themselves accountable to us. They chose to keep us informed and were transparent about where we were at with the search. At the end, they were able to stand in front of the church, explain the care and process that had gone into the selection of our candidate for Worship Pastor, provide a glowing reference and assure them of what a good, highly-qualified and godly man they were presenting. The church stood behind them to heartily affirm his appointment.

Because of the way our Pastors included the worship department and congregation in the process and because they were humble and held themselves accountable to the church, we have grown together instead of apart during this long process. Everyone expressed their gratitude at having a candidate brought before us and our readiness to accept a new leader was greatly enhanced. I never heard a single person express anger, irritation or frustration over the process or the wait during the last 9 months. This speaks highly to the character of individuals, but much of this is owed to the careful guidance and leadership we received from staff, volunteers and especially our Pastors. They inspired great trust and peace throughout the process and when our candidate came last weekend, things went very smoothly.

Hebrews 13:7 tells us Have confidence in your leaders and submit to their authority, because they keep watch over you as those who must give an account. Do this so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no benefit to you.

The word submit, hupotasso, means to partner together and cooperate with each other. It comes from a root word that describes rowing a boat together in perfect unison, the way we worked together to keep moving in the right direction. By involving us in the process, our Pastors helped to bring us into hupotasso, partnership, working toward the same goal. I believe we can all feel good about where we are at and look forward to what the future holds.
Did you miss the 1st 2 installments in this series on congregationalism? You can read them by clicking the links below:


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