the baby and the bathwater


Individualism
November 6, 2009, 5:22 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

We talk much about consumerism and worship in the church at the moment. And rightly so. Our churches are increasingly full of people who expect their worship served up in the same way as their coffee. It’s a demand problem. Good people expecting a certain standard of music, a certain mix of songs, a certain quality of voice.

All these things are important.

But not that important in the big scheme of things.

The main thing that will always make the worship flow, rock, lift – or whatever the ‘in’ word is at the moment – is the desire of the congregation to sing out. Take that away and we are just re-arranging deck chairs…Once our congregations stop demanding something of their worship leader and start to demand something of their own soul, then worship will change – forever. (this isn’t a disgruntled worship leader whinge though…)

But if consumerism is the greatest danger to the continuation of the passionate corporate worship IN the church, then individualism is the greatest threat to the continuation of the vibrant, creative community OF the church.

I was at a conference in our church this week, and the one main thing I came away with was a renewed commitment to being CORPORATE at every level in my leadership, ministry, work (or whatever is the in word at the moment).

Gary Best – from the vineyard in Canada – talked alot about how we all tend to call out for more of God for ourselves (as individuals) and pull back on calling out for more of God for our community (as church). At first I sort of didn’t get that. But after a while I sort of did.

I was reminded again of some of the main things that I have always tried to operate in as a worship pastor: the desire to gather lots of people into worship ministry alongside me; the desire to see new worship leaders rise up and grow in leadership themselves; the desire to share the stage I have been given with other leaders through co-leading, through co-writing, through joint recording projects. I’m not sure I do them very well, but they are at the core of the way I want to operate.

In short, the desire to retreat from individualism in ministry.

And in a season of extreme busyness and pressure as I have been through recently, I know that such things are the first to be laid aside. And this last week has reminded me of the need to keep pursuing them.

Unfortunately, individualism is as rife in the wider church today as consumerism. And it stops people growing in ministry. It’s a supply problem. Individuals control supply by controlling what is ‘creative’, by controlling what is ‘authentic’, controlling what is ‘right’ and above all, controlling what is ‘God’. It’s not normally intentional. It just kind of creeps up on us when we’re not expecting it.

And the main thing to counteract it I think is this: always point people to Jesus. If we are always pointing people towards Jesus then we will move away from individualism and move towards community.

Who are you pointing people towards?

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5 Comments so far
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When the Pilgrims brought Christianity to North America, they emphasized the importance of legitimate individual self-interests. Individual freedom brought us the free market, and that brought us prosperity, far in excess of any other place on earth. Today, Obama tells us the interests of community are more important than are the interests of individuals, and a majority of Americans voted for him. He has put American government in opposition to individual freedom, the free market and, consequently our prosperity. He is sinking America’s identity into the rest of the world where 80% of the people are struggling just to survive day to day. The rest of the world objects to America having only 5% of the world’s people, yet using 25% of the world’s wealth. They, and Obama, believe America is unfair and he is busy apologizing for us. This is described in THE CHANGING FACE OF DEMOCRATS on Amazon and http://www.claysamerica.com.

Comment by Clay Barham

Friend . . . great post and so so resonates . . .heard this echo on the east coast of Canada; came home and heard it on the west coast of Canada and now hear you blogging about it! (maybe Gary is getting around too much lol). Anyway glad I’m not alone in the struggling with this . .. thanks for the encouragement.
PS you got skype yet?

Comment by Naomi Lippett

[…] Neil says it so well and it resonates with me deeply . .. . We talk much about consumerism and worship in the church at the moment. And rightly so. Our churches are increasingly full of people who expect their worship served up in the same way as their coffee. It’s a demand problem. Good people expecting a certain standard of music, a certain mix of songs, a certain quality of voice. […]

Pingback by naomilippett.com » Blog Archive » individualism

Clay.
My (hopefully authentic) Biblical theology of community does not mean the discarding of identity or personal dreams. In fact it means the opposite. It does mean, however, that our identity and our dreams and aspirations are surrendered to Christ, and puts justice back on the agenda.

I don’t know the details you know, but I do at least have questions when countries like mine (and yours) seem to have so much when the rest of the world has so little. The problem for me is not the desire to dream, and to grow, and to succeed, but the lack of desire to combine that success with a theology of justice and hence community.

For example, in our own country we have people losing jobs and companies going bust when at the same time, bankers – albeit pioneering, successful, progressive bankers – are paying themselves billions in bonuses.

I certainly don’t deny the importance of pursuing dreams, and freedoms, and identity. I just think we should be equally intent on acting justly in the communities in which we have influence.

Thoughts?

Comment by neilbennetts

Hi Nae,
Thanks for the comments friend…..no skpe yet….

Comment by neilbennetts




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