When and how did you receive your “call” to become a worship leader or pastor? I’m talking about that special calling from God, when you had a heart-felt conviction similar to the Apostle Paul when he said, “woe to me if I do not preach the gospel!”
This calling was placed upon my life through a process of life molding events. Of course I did not recognize this at the time, but today I believe the seed of this call was placed in my life when I was a child. That seed being the day my mother began teaching me how to play the piano.
Following my acceptance of Christ as my Savior, the seed of this call grew throughout my teenage years through the musical and spiritual tutelage of teachers, family and church. Although there were private music studies, school choirs and high school music contests and awards, my church was the primary motivating factor in the development of this call.
In addition to the experiences of Sunday school classes, youth group, and Bible-based preaching, my church gave me the opportunity to share my music talent and to shape it into God-honoring ministry. I was given the opportunity to sing in the choir, sing solos, play piano solos, play trumpet solos, play the organ and to lead congregational singing.
My church, though the sermons of our pastor, special evangelistic services and missions conferences, challenged me to think outside my comfortable teenage world. I was challenged to think about how I might use my God-given talents in “fulltime Christian ministry.” This challenge led me, in my junior year of high school, to a personal commitment to “fulltime” or professional Christian service in any manner in which God might direct me.
You of course have your own unique calling and can give witness to the manner in which it has manifested itself in your life. You are fulfilling that calling in the church or ministry in which you serve. Did the church of your childhood and teenage years play a part in your unique calling to ministry?
I sometimes wonder, if I were a teenager growing up in a 21st century church, if I would I have any opportunity to hear and to shape a God-given call to ministry? I would most likely find my way into the worship center, along with my family and friends, just as the worship band is beginning to lead in a set of worship songs. I would stand, along with the others for a period of praise and worship prior to the pastor’s message. I would know some of the praise songs, having attended several concerts by the leading Christian bands and having downloaded others to my electronic device. Several other songs I would sort of know and others would be totally foreign.
The worship band is pretty cool. Like professional. They really get into their playing and singing. They sound very much like the bands I hear in concerts . Sometimes I find myself sort of just standing there, not singing, but becoming absorbed in their playing either because it sounds so cool or I don’t know the song.
Following several minutes of worship someone prays and then the pastor gives the message or sermon. This is generally very well presented and holds my attention. The pastor gives great insight to God’s Word, helping me to better understand it and how to apply it to my life. I also often hear new things about God and learn more and more about how good He is and how He is always there for me.
After the pastor’s message we generally sing at least one more song, take an offering, and are dismissed. Everything has been pretty smooth running, holding my attention to the end. Now my family, friends and I head for home. We plan to be back in the worship center next weekend to be part of another worship and teaching service.
As a 21st century Christian teenager I would be enjoying the worship and spiritual growth opportunities offered by my church. I perhaps would even say the worship was pretty cool, with its tight musical performance, creative staging and lighting, and the pastor’s engaging sermon presentations. But, when would I have an opportunity to be part of the worship leadership? When would I have an opportunity to hear and to shape a Christian leadership call, through hands on experience and church based mentoring? Of course I would not realize I was missing such an opportunity. However, will the church of the future be a little less effective in its ministry because I missed the opportunity to hear and to shape a special call in my home church? I wonder.
Roger Hicks has been in church music ministry for more than 50 years, serving as staff member in churches of six denominations in eight states and Canada. He jokingly calls himself a “Lubapmethoterian.” He is currently choir director at Crown of Life Lutheran Church in Sun City West, AZ.