Some time back I talked about one of the causes of worship ministry conflicts, people placing different levels of priority on performance and participation. There is actually another cause of conflicts and misunderstanding in worship ministry, and it is how we see worship ministry through the eyes of our own personal giftings.
1 Peter 4:10 (NIV) - Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.
What usually happens is that people will tend to fellowship with others with the same gifting. Teachers will enjoy hanging out with other teachers, prophets with other prophets and so on. This is how they develop themselves to be even stronger and effective in that particular area. The problems arise when they assume that they are the only ones who are right and the others are wrong. And THAT can lead to massive conflicts, strife and even people leaving the ministry.
Let's see how it works out in the following scenarios
1) Choosing songs for a worship set – If you are a teacher, you'll probably prefer songs that are Scripture set to music and those that have solid lyrical content (like hymns). If you are an evangelist, you might prefer invitation-type songs such as So You Would Come (Hillsongs). If you are more prophetically inclined, you may prefer songs that are more figurative, poetic or symbolic, such as Dance with Me by Jesus Culture.
You can already see from here how conflicts can arise. Not many people are at the level of maturity when they can see the differences how other people approach worship ministry and celebrate them.
2) And how about worship music? An evangelist will prefer what appeals to the pre-believers, exciting, performance-style music. Why? Because it is more likely to bring in the crowds for him or her to preach to. A prophet will prefer more a repetitive, droning style of music. A teacher will prefer more laid-back, unobtrusive musical accompaniment that does not distract the people from the lyrical content.
3) What if the church is spiritually dead in the area of praise and worship? A prophet will be more inclined to think finding an anointed worship leader or on-fire worship team to minister to the congregation will work. This is more like the style of Old Testament prophets; they would seek God, speak to God's people to bring them the message on God's heart, and things happen. A teacher will try to get a worship trainer or pastor to teach the congregation. A pastor will be the one who worries about whether there are groups of people within the congregation who are alienated by any changes in the worship ministry or style, because it's unacceptable to him (or her) to rejoice over the 99 sheep who remain and write off the 1 who leaves (Luke 15:3).
Of course, we know everything isn't that cut and dried in real life. Many church leaders have a mix of giftings. For example, many pastors have the teaching gifting to some degree, in fact, Paul puts it as a requirement (1 Tim 3:2). Timothy was supposed to both teach (1 Tim 4:11) and do the work of an evangelist (2 Tim 4:5).
And Peter, in Acts 2:17-18, says:
Acts 2:17-18 (NIV) – "In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams. Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days, and they will prophesy."
This suggests to me that every believer has the potential to move in the prophetic gifting in some way. By the way, Jack Deere has written a chapter on how the key people in the history of the Presbyterian denomination (such as John Knox) actually moved in the gift of prophecy. It makes an astounding read. It's in his book Surprised by the Voice of God. Do check it out, it's a very good example of how a teacher (Jack Deere) sees the gift of prophecy from a teacher's perspective.
Anyway, many people I have met slant their thinking along one particular gifting, and have the priorities that come with that gifting. So I hope that this post will help you see your own slant and understand the perspectives of those around you, so that we can understand each other better, have less conflict and work together for the glory of God!
P.S. Jack Deere's book, Surprised by The Voice of God, is a well-thought-out, Scriptural look at how God speaks to his people today. It has my highest recommendation for every believer, especially those who are seriously want to hear the voice of God in their lives and want to avoid the common mistakes. You can get it here!