An Oregon church’s worship ministry guidelines took a lot of heat recently for including a position that being overweight could be a disqualification from playing and singing in the band. When the outcry against the superficiality of that rule grew loud enough the church issued an apology.*
I looked through the Worship Team Guidelines to see whether the original criticism concerning the appearance rules was fair, but I’ll let you read them and decide for yourselves. Something else I found in them was much more disturbing to me.
As a part of the worship team, we have specific guidelines that we have established for our team to work together and to be the best we can be. Please read this carefully. You must be in 100% agreement for you to flow with our team and in order for the anointing to flow through you. (Emphasis added.)
If that church thinks 100% agreement with its policies is required or the Holy Spirit can’t work through the worship team, then that church has a weak pneumatology. Our ability to serve God effectively does not depend on forcing ourselves to agree with one another 100%. It doesn’t even depend on 50% agreement. Or 10%. Or whatever.
It Depends on God
Our ability to serve God effectively depends 100% on the Spirit of Christ within us. The power he wields within us is not born of agreement, but from the joy and peace God gives us as we trust in his grace:
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. (Romans 15:13.)
Notice where your overflowing hope comes from: “the power of the Holy Spirit.” Notice where it’s not from: your ministry team’s agreement. This includes your hope that God will use your ministry team’s efforts to further his kingdom and serve his people.
Another thing to notice is the silence in the New Testament writings which could support the church’s requirement for 100% agreement. In fact, Paul, the apostle who planted more churches than anyone else in his lifetime, was gracious in the face of disagreement.
He faced something extremely dire in the Philippian church – people boasting of their own accomplishments in order to hold sway over church members. To oppose this, Paul spent most of Philippians 3 explaining his own journey and how he had not yet arrived at the ultimate goal of his life in Christ. He knew some of his readers might have a hard time coming out from under the influence of the bad teaching, and Paul dealt with those people gently.
All of us, then, who are mature should take such a view of things. And if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you. Only let us live up to what we have already attained. (Philippians 3:15-16.)
Not one word along the lines of Straighten up and fly right or you’ll never be given a ministry in any church I run! Rather, Paul considered everyone to be in this together.
A House Not Divided
Someone might point to Jesus when he said, “If a house is divided against itself, that house cannot stand.” (Mark 3:25.) The problem for those people, though, is that verse has nothing to do with agreement. Not one thing. Rather, Jesus was answering accusers who assigned his works to Satan.
And the teachers of the law who came down from Jerusalem said, “He is possessed by Beelzebul! By the prince of demons he is driving out demons.”
So Jesus called them over to him and began to speak to them in parables: “How can Satan drive out Satan? If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. If a house is divided against itself, that house cannot stand. And if Satan opposes himself and is divided, he cannot stand; his end has come.” (Mark 3:22-26.)
Nothing in this passage refers to the church at all, let alone can it be used to coerce church members to agree with all policies 100% or find themselves disqualified from church ministry entirely.
No, a church where members find a way to work together without being in 100% agreement is not a house divided. It is a body of believers that is just as capable of being blessed through the work of the Holy Spirit as the churches Paul and Priscilla and John and Lydia and so many others led in those early years under the New Covenant.
You can trust in that 100%.
*The church’s apology says the guidelines aren’t enforced by anyone. A look at the guidelines shows they were updated as recently as 2014, though, so someone looked at them and approved them within the past two years.
Update: Here are a couple of beautiful people – Nicole Paris and her father – using their amazing talents to glorify God. Wait for the Scripture reference she lays down and look it up to see what she’s getting at.