God Doesn’t Demand 100% Agreement From You

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.)

100-percent

100%? That’s a lot!

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.

***

Advertisements
This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

27 Responses to God Doesn’t Demand 100% Agreement From You

  1. I read the policy. Wow. That’s quite a list. And quite an emphasis on conformity. The insistence on agreement seems to be part and parcel of that.

    The church has posted an apology with a prominent banner on their website. Sort of. It leads with a statement about a false media narrative. But after reading the policy itself under “grooming and hygiene” I’m not sure how many ways there are to interpret it.

  2. This is an excellent take on the 100% agreement schtick that has been around for years. A former pastor told me that his elders only disagreed with him 2x in 28 years. This was a church with many problems behind the scenes.

  3. I wonder if they mean 100% agreement or 100% compliance, The latter is legalism; the former is mind control (which is not possible!). If I decide “OK, I will obey the rule not to wear white-soled shoes, but I absolutely do not agree with it,” am I kicked off the team for not agreeing? How can they tell? Is it better to comply even if I don’t agree, or to lie and say I agree? ARRGGH.

    As for the “no excessive weight,” that’s outright discrimination and size-ism. They go on about how you shouldn’t call attention to yourself onstage, then say “People are looking up to you, you have to make a good impression.” There seems to be way too much emphasis on appearance here.

    • Tim says:

      They leave no room for the Holy Spirit in their insistence on a certain look for the stage people. Good thing the Holy Spirit is immense and can shove those rules out of the way without breaking a sweat.

  4. 100% agreement? Sounds more like an excuse for someone, or a group of someones, to exert absolute control and then claim it is never their fault if anyone disagrees with them, which is not only *not* remotely Christlike, but highly likely to be actively abusive.

  5. Mary Anne says:

    Yep, sounds like the abuse in that congregation I was once part of–the leadership’s reasoning was “If you’re not in agreement you’re in rebellion, and we all know that ‘rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft,’ etc.” I can’t believe now that I put up with it for so long and didn’t run for the hills.

    Which is my advice to anyone in this kind of control freak situation. RUN. NOW. AWAY FROM, NOT TOWARD.

    • Tim says:

      I’d tell them, “How about instead you consider that if I’m not in agreement it might be because you’re wrong and you should start doing things differently?”

  6. FW Rez says:

    At least they didn’t provide pictures of knees to illustrate that their dress code calls for them to be covered up. Curious admonition for women (and women only) to put their make-up on before they get to church.

  7. Muff Potter says:

    You have no idea how glad I am that the Almighty tolerates my disagreements (if they even are disagreements) with him.

    • Tim says:

      You and me both, Muff. I have a ways to go before I am completely on the same page with God. Thankfully he’s helping me get there by and by.

  8. Kevin Mason says:

    My wife and I applied to be missionaries in Ecuador (my wife is Ecuadorian) with an organization that based upon our application was very eager to accept us. later they asked us to send a photo of us. After they received the photo they sent a letter stating that I must have a hair length that was to their standards and I my not have a beard; both my hair and beard were already relatively short but I guess it was not short enough, and, we could not serve in Ecuador because my wife was… (Gasp!) Ecuadorian! It was a quick decision on our part that this was not the mission organization we would used to be missionaries. Other organizations found it more important to learn about our theological training, ongoing spiritual life and our ability to speak the same language as the people we were going to serve.

    The policy at the mission organization and this church was not based upon one’s spiritual maturity and spiritual gifting but rather on worldly optics. This mission organization and this church may have had good intentions but later those good intentions solidified into legalism.

    • Tim says:

      “Other organizations found it more important to learn about our theological training, ongoing spiritual life and our ability to speak the same language as the people we were going to serve.”

      How dare those organizations be reasonable in their expectations! 😉

      I hope you have found your calling to be rich and rewarding, Kevin.

      • Kevin Mason says:

        We have been in Ecuador for the past decade, it is a lot of work and has proven to be more difficult (on many levels) than we ever imagined. But it is worth all the hassles and heartaches. Our reward will be to be eternity with people in Ecuador who were once lost but are now saved.

    • Pastor Bob says:

      Muchas Bendiciones mi hermano! Mi esposa es de Colombia, usted y su trabajo por él estará en nuestras oraciones!

  9. Heather G says:

    This topic is similar to a blog post I wrote last year when Pope Francis visited Philadelphia- about how the evangelical/charismatic church in the USA tends to want a certain type of person on the stage.

    https://allthingsareyours.wordpress.com/2015/09/29/only-attractive-people-should-lead-worship/

    • Tim says:

      “The only really notable outward thing he has going for him is in fact his warm, loving smile – a smile that emerges particularly when he is up close and interacting with people.”

      You can’t fake kindness, and that’s what people who walk into a church want to see and feel. After all, kindness is a fruit of the Spirit and leads to all sorts of good things.

  10. Pastor Bob says:

    Agreement and conformity help and are important, but his application is seriously flawed.
    Scriptural Principles YES. Doctrine – if it solidly based on scripture.
    Disagree on a point or two, ask God what to do and then make your decision.
    In one church I kept quiet on one issue that the church said was “wrong.”
    I spoke up on this once, and that was for a debate on that one topic.

    Ask God what to do and then DO IT.

  11. Ishy V says:

    I was in a church worship team that adopted a similar policy. We didn’t have it when we signed up, though — suddenly the pastor and worship leader decided it was a new policy.

    The first problem was that the worship leader was a guitar major who had played guitar since he was a tiny child. He was obsessed with sounding exactly like the CDs. I had played bass for about a year, and was decent for having played for that amount of time, but there was no possible way I could play like the pro bass players on the CD. I doubt there was anyone else he could find that would have. The others in the band had a little more experience than I did, but they couldn’t sound like the CDs either.

    The friction was constant, and he started accusing me of being rebellious, because I couldn’t physically play like he wanted. He told the pastor I was causing problems in the band, and the pastor “pulled me aside”. When I said that the only problem was that there was no way I could play to his level of expectations, the pastor told me just to stop being rebellious and do it. What if I told him (as a brand new pastor) that his preaching was not like Adrian Rogers, and he should preach just like that within a week?

    Thankfully, I graduated and left within a few months, but I doubt that guy was ever satisfied with anyone but himself in groups he led. And I’m sure they adopted similar policies for other ministries that probably didn’t lead to “anointment”.

    • Tim says:

      Ishy, one of my pet peeves is when the music at church is played by people trying to be a cover band for the original musicians on the CD or radio. I’m glad you weren’t under that type of “leadership” for long.

      • Ishy V says:

        It’s definitely a pet peeve of mine, too. An instrumentalist can be good at an instrument, but not be a musician, who can adapt music to the instruments and style of the group. And being good at something doesn’t mean you can work well with others and be a good leader.

        In fact, I suspect that a lot of these extreme authoritarians are really just very poor leaders who want to be in charge. They have to force people to obey because nobody would pay attention to them otherwise.

  12. Shy1 says:

    I read through that document and I thought there were a number of expectations of the band members that were perfectionistic and controlling. I wonder how many of the people on the team get panic attacks?

Talk to me (or don't)

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s