When I served college students in Abilene, Texas, I attended chapel services at Abilene Christian University on occasion. Like some other Christian schools, they hold chapel daily; unlike many Christian schools (but LIKE many of their fellow Church of Christ brethren), their worship was all a cappella. And it was phenomenal; those C of C brothers and sisters have grown up not only learning to sing without the aid of instruments, but they’ve learned to sing in parts. It’s awesome.
I’m getting the same “joy of a cappella” here at the CMU college ministry training workshop. But of course, I’m always applying everything to college ministry. So I started pondering…
For most college ministries (that aren’t from non-instrumental Christian traditions), removing the instruments would be a significant adjustment to our music. It would very much seem like removing a major, perhaps even vital, component.
So this week’s Fridea is really sort of a thinking challenge, but it might just lead to all kinds of creative ideas, an honest assessment of what really matters in your ministry, or perhaps even a sort of “fast”:
For each major “program” of your ministry, consider elements that could, might, or should be removed. (And perhaps even give it a try sometime…)
- What if you didn’t use visual aids in the message?
- What if you didn’t use any prompts for your discussion groups?
- What if you stopped advertising?
- What if worship didn’t involve music at all?
- What if your evangelism didn’t have any “tools”?
- What if the next mission trip didn’t start with planning?
- What if there were no ministry funds for the next service project?
- What if you didn’t serve food this time?
I realized that just thinking through this – or even giving it a try – could work a lot like Fasting does. Like Fasting, the point is NOT to infer that removal of good things is better, though on occasion we may realize some benefits in removing something “sacred.” But lacking something for a time (or even considering what lacking it might mean) can make us thankful. Or it might help us see good items that have become bad idols.
Whatever it does, I encourage you to take some minutes and ponder the “instruments” you might remove. What would happen? And if you get a chance to give it a try (or have done this before), let me know.
*Just to be clear, I fully recognize that Churches of Christ college ministries don’t have instruments because of ecclesiological beliefs, and I don’t mean to infer it’s any sort of capricious decision. But this difference in traditions gave me something interesting to ponder!
Written from Harding University, Searcy, Arkansas