Monday, May 15, 2017
The difference between stubbornness and perseverance is discernment. I had a friend who was stubborn. He kept working jobs that net little to know income. He wouldn't listen to anyone. He argued with his wife, yelled at his kids, and constantly strove to get ahead. But, he put blinders on. He thought that if he kept doing the same thing the same way eventually it would work, even though it never worked. I feel bad for him.
I know another person. He had a dream. People mocked him. Progress was slow at first. People worried about him. He had his failures. However, he learned from his failures and pressed on. He was tenacious. Eventually, despite everyone's doubts, he experienced success. He persevered. Sometimes you need to know when to quit. Sometimes you need to have the grit to press on. Things I have been thinking about with some recent reading I have been doing.
One of the things that I have enjoyed about being at First Baptist Church of North Platte is the increased level of participation of lay people in worship leadership. Lay people choose and lead praise songs. They lead the hymn singing and make the announcements. Members of the church do the offering, take greater responsibility for the Lord's Supper, and do missions presentations during worship.
Our order of worship is generally less formal than the church I arrived here from. However, one of the few portions of our service that is "scripted" is the offering and the offering prayer. During each service, there is an introduction to the offering that serves as a "mini-devotion" exhorting folks to give. One of my predecessors has years of these things typed up. Sometimes I borrow his work. Other times I borrow from my liturgical resources, drawing out the invitation to the offering and the offering prayer. I find in both cases, I edit the texts I am given. This is because, I believe in worship resources, we need more Hemmingway and less Dickens.
A lot of worship resources use large words and long sentences. They write in an intelligent fashion, but not in a way that connects as clearly with the everyday person in the pew. So, when I transcribe many of these resources in the last few months, I am changing high rent words into language that is more common. I am chopping up longer sentences into shorter more succinct ones. I am exchanging flowery language for more earthy words. We need less Dickens, and more Hemmingway.
Wednesday, May 10, 2017
I left worship a little frustrated last week. I tried to lead folks toward doing something new in worship. It did not work as I had planned, desired, or expected. We thought we had our bases covered, but people behaved in a way I did not anticipate. Folks I had hoped to earn the support of were mildly disappointed. I spent the last few days feeling bad. I think I am over it now.
How do you respond when you do something different, and it doesn't "flow"? Do you abandon the project, deciding that we have tried this once, it did not work, and we will never try anything like that again? Do you consider that new routines are more difficult, and try again with some adaptations again the next opportunity you have? Do you beat yourself up for days, or realize that bumps in the road are part of the journey?
God has given me a more tenacious and stubborn temperament. So, I would generally opt to try again, making improvements in communication and design that are necessary. Often changes like changing a golf grip, establishing a new health routine, or trying communion a different way require going through the awkward phase of trying something new before things feel like they work and fit. There is a part of me that says to myself in moments like these--moments when things don't go as planned and people complain--that I should abandon new experiences and the possibility of failure and stick to what has always been done.
How do you respond to moments like these in your life? Do you try again, or chose to abandon your effort to try something new?