Somewhat carelessly we seem to have let all our keyboard players leave CCB. None of them cited musical differences as their reasons. We share a remarkably united musical vision at CCB, largely because I let them do whatever they tell me needs to happen. It’s a new type of leadership model I’m trialling. And so far it’s working faultlessly! But the departure of an Irish wonder to a neighbouring Co-Mission church plant and the return of two Aussie stalwarts to their homeland has left us bereft of the glorious redundancy our rota has so often displayed.
We used to be the envy of other Co-Mission music co-ordinator for the simple reason that we were awash with talented pianists. No more. which is not to say that the two we have left aren’t talented. It’s just that the glut is no more.
It would be easy to get discouraged by such a situation. But not the new me. Not the me who searches for the silver lining in every dark cloud just like Jesus tells me to. OK, I made that bit up. But I am determined to find the goodness of God in each and every situation, even when at first sight it doesn’t look too promising or encouraging. Ministry provides ample opportunity to be discouraged and despondent because life doesn’t turn out the way you want it to and people usually don’t do the things you want them to! But Jesus is our Lord and I’m resolved not to display the monstrous unbelief of the disciples who said to Jesus, ‘don’t you care if we drown’ as though the Lord of compassion had changed his default setting from mercy (Mark 4:38).
Last Sunday the encouragement came. Someone who’s either not felt able or not been needed (I simply don’t know the reason) joined the band. And it worked with seamless transition. That may be overstating it. To the trained ear there may have been a perceptible shift in gears. But not to mine. It sounded fine. In fact, it was much better than that.
This is a reminder to people like me, who have responsibility for making things happen, to be prepared to look for new people. I so easily forget that I’m employed to equip the saints for the work of ministry (Ephesians 4). I can’t teach the piano. But I can encourage people to exercise their gifts (however latent) for the glory of God and the benefit of others. And the musicians can help integrate a newcomer into the band. Someone new is serving in a new way because others left. And that’s a good thing.
But it’s also a reminder for people in the congregation (the people who share the responsibility for making things happen) to seize the opportunities created when a hole appears in the rota. Opportunities to serve open up when people leave or have to step down. And so, one of the great things about planting new congregations (perhaps especially small ones) is that it provides opportunities for people to take on new responsibilities. In other, usually larger and more established congregations you might have to wait for years for a chance to open up. And even then you may feel that the level of ability required is beyond you. And you might be right. But in smaller churches like ours we train people on the job and we get people involved far sooner than they otherwise might expect! The level of expertise required to be involved at CCB is less than it might be elsewhere. For example we’ve got nearly 10 guys having a go at preaching this summer because we need them to fill the (not insubstantial) hole left by the departure of our assistant minster for pastures green. That’s terrific, isn’t it? Not Pete going. Though that’s good for Woking. I mean new people getting to handle God’s word, prayerfully prepare a sermon and apply it to the congregation they love. Some things are worth doing, even if you can only do them badly. There’s no doubt that the ‘professional’ preachers might do a better job (though that’s arguable in our situation!). But we’re committed to training people and giving them an opportunity to serve. We’re just not as fussed about absolutely everything being done faultlessly. We’re not blase about doing things well and to the glory of God. But we think that God is glorified if we do what we do to the best of our ability, operating with the constraints of our abilities and opportunities. And so, it’s terrific that our new keyboard player has stepped up to the plate. A relatively small thing perhaps, but a disproportionately encouraging thing.