Building The Bench

Rick Muchow is the worship pastor at Saddleback in California. I don’t know much about him and the style at Saddleback is not one I am particularly fond of myself. Today however I became a fan a Rick Muchow.

He answers a question from Kelly Gabriele serving in Little River, SC that points up a very common misconception in churches that once we have our ministry teams set were done and we can just operate in our gifts:

Our Praise Team is fully stocked at this time. What do I do about other musicians and singers who might be interested? While I want to reach out to new talent that may be in our church, at the same time we have a worshipping, wonderful, dedicated team with all the players and singers we need right now. Our service is growing by leaps and bounds… we are SO blessed. I think I am afraid of looking closed minded and closed hearted toward others who might be interested in joining. And if you tell me to start a Praise Choir I’m going to run away– that really frightens me! But then again, it may be time to “build a bench”–or should I leave well enough alone?

Rick hits it out of the park. The bottom line is we are not called to operate in our gift for a season and then hand it off to someone else. As Rick so eloquently and gracefully points out according to Romans 12 when someone has a gift in the church we are to LET THEM use it. Here are his remarks in total:

Many churches would love to have this “problem.” This is a great time. You must feel very encouraged. The question here is really about stewardship.

Why is God giving us all this talent? This is a common predicament for those who find themselves in a position of great wealth. Believe it or not, there are some people who don’t want to steward great wealth. With it comes great responsibility. It takes a lot of work and effort to manage great resources of any kind.

In my position as my church’s Worship Leader, I’ve always thought of myself as the manager of God’s musical resources within this church. I take this responsibility very seriously, realizing that all these people belong to God. He created them for a purpose. There is a fine line between our perceived needs and the church’s needs. My goal is to help people fulfill their place in ministry. I am not familiar with your exact situation or season, but I would encourage you to examine your paradigm here.

Let’s look at Romans 12-1:8 (NIV.) Every believer in the church has a contribution to make in the body of Christ. Romans 12:1 says, “Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship.” This verse is about the life of worship and about using our gifts. Everyone needs to worship with their life. Part of that worship is using our gifts for the glory of God, to fulfill the Great Commission and the Great Commandment.

Verses 4-5 tell us, “Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.”

In verses 6-8, we are told 7 times to “let him.” Starting with verse 4, “We have different gifts, according to the grace given us. If a man’s gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his faith. If it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach; if it is encouraging, let him encourage; if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously; if it is leadership, let him govern diligently; if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully.”

When I try to put myself in your place, I think God would be asking me to “build the bench.”

Let’s talk about building the bench. The bench is not the place where people never play. The bench is the place where they are ready to use their gifts at a moment’s notice. The bench has great benefits. For the inexperienced player, the bench allows them to train with the rest of the team. The bench also allows the team to share the load, avoiding burnout and injury. Finally, the bench provides a sense of teamwork, community and family.

Romans 12 is an example of how God wants us to include everyone into active service. God created each of us to use our gifts for Him. As a leader, our task is to try to figure out the puzzle and make a place in which each gifted person can serve.

If your team is “full”, here are some ideas. As we teach Biblical principles of teamwork, servanthood, and family, we are reminded that there is a place for everyone to serve in the ministry of the church. We willingly let another person use their gifts even when it means we have to share opportunities and responsibilities.

Start a new service time or form a team who can help other churches which have a smaller talent pool than yours does. Increase the number of people you use at a given service, for example start an orchestra or choir. (It’s not as scary as you might think!) Try a new rotation that allows more teams to serve in your existing services, for example each team serves every other week while rehearsing every week with the whole team together. Another idea is to promote existing team members to leadership positions allowing new leadership to take on the added responsibility of expanding your team.

How many musicians do we need at the church? According to Romans 12, when someone has a gift in the church we are to LET THEM use it. It is our responsibility to create the ministry climate that allows every member to incorporate their unique contribution to the body of Christ. This approach takes more work up front but is absolutely worth the investment.

Most churches don’t have this problem and I think the reason is we are not stewarding well that which has been entrusted to us. Those people He has bought with His own blood and given gifts. If we do not steward His resources He will send them to a place where they will be stewarded well.

Thanks Rick.


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Posted by Gary

Gary Trobee is a certified coach and a seasoned leader with over 20 years’ experience mentoring, coaching, and encouraging leaders and their teams.