When you are a music pastor for a while, you start to wonder if God secretly slipped magnets into your pockets that attract very specific kinds of people.
I’ve been thinking recently about the commonalities that many of these folks share, and how Jesus conversed with these kinds of people. I’m not usually one for putting people into boxes or categories but the trends have been so strong I decided to pen them out as a reference for myself down the road.
I should preface this all by saying that I see these three people in my heart sometimes, and it freaks me out. It is a frequent and needed reminder that ministry has its pitfalls and snares that will leave you bleeding if you are not aware and cautious.
#1. THE INSPECTOR
Every church has at least a few of these. This guy will gladly chat with you after services about how the typo in the slides ruined his worship experience, or how his parking spot was taken when he arrived. The sermon was too long and the music was too loud. If three dead theologians are not referenced during the sermon you are labeled a seeker-church with a watered-down gospel.
He is critical to the core, and can find faults in others without even trying. The amount of critique will typically be inverse to the amount of courage; to help, to serve, to ever be a part of the solution (assuming he saw something that was indeed not right). They have no follow-through and if you challenge this guy enough times they usually leave in a huff, exasperated that no one is listening to their wisdom and guidance. If their ideas aren’t honored, then the clock is ticking before they leave permanently.
This guy is a staple of any church, and my observation is that healthy churches challenge them and unhealthy ones fear them and in some cases appoint them as leaders.
COMES DRESSED IN: Collared shirt, tucked in, and a shiny watch.
DANGERS: giving them authority, fearing them, basing decisions off their opinions, and confusing them with godly folks that want to help and move the ministry forward.
#2. THE JAMMER
This next guy is really nice, and most people like him. He will have a MySpace page with some songs he recorded on his laptop using an internal microphone. He wants to help with the music but he has no formal training or experience of any kind, outside of his jam sessions with his dorm-mate. He has strong opinions about how the heart is the only thing that matters in ministry. If you approach the subject of calling or gifting then things will get ugly fast. He commonly questions the need for the use of technology in corporate worship and will invite you over to his house to jam if he likes you. If you politely decline those invites you can count on a CD finding its way to your desk/mailbox/guitar case within 1-2 weeks.
COMES DRESSED IN: Socks with sandals and Christian rip-off tee (ya know, like “A-bread-crumb and Fish,” or “Get Outta Hell Free Card.”
DANGERS: Putting them on stage before testing them, going over to their house to jam (this will end in hurt feelings 9 times out of 10).
#3 THE ARTIST
Music ministry is a natural landing pad for this last guy. You will often hear about this guy 2nd hand from his friends or a mutual acquaintance. He can fly through a guitar solo almost as fast as his allowance from his parents. Jobs don’t appeal to him because it cuts into his online gaming schedule. He’s 21, living at home and goes to a lot of concerts that his parents pay for.
Deeply talented and seldom timely, this guy is late to everything. If this guy had a pet fish, it died years ago and is likely still decaying in the bowl. He doesn’t know the color of the carpet in his bedroom and the only budgeting skills he has is figuring how much food you can get at Taco Bell for $10.
Again, he is really good at guitar.
COMES DRESSED IN: Overpriced graphic tees, skinny jeans, and slip-on loafers.
DANGERS: Styling your hair like them. They can pull it off. You can not. Letting them slip through the cracks (challenge them to step up!)
And so there you have it. Three guys that I most certainly see at church and in my own heart.
In fact, it is most certainly the presence of these character issues in my heart that allowsme to spot them so readily in others. Isn’t that how it usually works?
I want to never criticize the church if I am unwilling to be her champion. I want to make sure my heart is repentant and focused on the works of Christ before I lead others in worship. I want to be known for following through on my word and my service to others.
Jesus help me.