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The Doctor Is In: Calling and Sending

The Doctor Is In: Calling and Sending

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by Dr. Craig Gilbert

Let’s learn from each other how to thrive in the ministry path on which God has set us all. This new column will be here for each of you to find blessing, strength, encouragement, as well as new ideas for problem-solving the difficult situations that many of us in ministry share. We will go outside of the craft of our ministries and take a look at the relationships that make up our ministries. Your direct questions about how to handle these issues will be addressed in this column, so please, start sharing your questions with us at or

When we have church I work hard to lead worship that will speak God’s message to people through all aspects of what we do together. But during the week it is hard to focus on my ministry. There always seems to be somebody in the church who isn’t happy. I am just struggling with who I am in ministry and serving through tough times. Any thoughts that can help?


Needs Inspiration Again

Our time together, while fulfilling and spiritually refreshing, is only part one of God’s two-part action: God calls and God sends. One answer to your question can actually be found in that weekly worship service. The historical ending to Christian worship services is an act of dismissal. This act of dismissal usually is the shortest part of the service, yet the direction of this action and its implications for the role of the Church in the world is enormous. Typically there are two parts to the dismissal: the Benediction and the Sending Forth. Each of these parts provides a crucial reminder of what it means to be both a worshiper and a follower of God.

The Benediction is a blessing that is given by God to God’s people. The Benediction is for us. It reminds us of not just who we are, people loved and blessed by God, but whose we are. We belong to and serve God. This information is important for two reasons. First, as we re-enter the world at the conclusion of the worship service, we are reminded that we do not enter that world alone or without resource. God goes with us, and even more, God leads us. We follow in the path that God has ordained for our lives. God’s love and blessing will sustain us.

The Sending Forth, however, is for the benefit of the world. It is a reminder that God called us in so that we can be prepared to be sent out. Worship was never meant to only be an action or exchange between believers and God for the mutual benefit of both. No, the gathering of worship was also meant to continually prepare us for, and release us into, service to all of creation.

When addressing the dismissal from worship, Dr. Robert Webber wrote in his book Worship Old and New, “The true worship of God inevitably leads the people of God into positive social action. Our calling is to worship God not only with our lips, but with our lives.” (p. 194)

The Sending Forth reminds us of that commission so that we never forget that we have a purpose in God’s plan. This reminder of our mission is meant to give us courage, boldness, humility, and perseverance when our faith is tested as we go about the work of the Lord.

Pastors and Worship Leaders, we are meant to be encouraged by the Dismissal as well. As we go about the mission and ministry of the Church, we are faced with difficulties. Criticisms, sorrows, and yes, even betrayals, are all too common realities for those charged with leading the Church. And yet, hear the truth of the Benediction and the resolve of the Sending Forth: Who you are, makes you blessed. Whose you are, makes you worthy. The One who sends you and in whose name you work makes the mission valuable above any and all hindrances.

Until next time…

Worship Leader: Go forth to love and serve the Lord
People: Thanks be to God!
All: Amen!

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