Every musician knows this story: The director passes out a new piece. The musicians assemble their instruments. The baton goes up, the band breathes together, and -- chaos ensues.
The musicians look around at each other in confusion, and the "noise" that's happening where the music should be comes to a screeching halt.
The reason why music is so awesome (or at least, one of the many reasons) is because it's an inherently team-based art form. If the musicians don't know where they're going -- or if even one of them doesn't follow the director -- the music is doomed.
I've been thinking a lot about teams lately. As part of our weekly staff meetings at Riviera Baptist Church, we've been reading a book by Patrick Lencioni entitled "The Five Dysfunctions of a Team." This book uses a "leadership fable" to reveal some of the common fundamental problems of less-than-successful teams.
The book was written with businesses in mind, and yet my brain (as it does) went immediately to music. But many of the team problems that musicians and corporations experience are the same ones that we face as a church family.
In I Corinthians 12, Paul talks about the diversity of spiritual gifts that are present in the church body. Some people have the gift of wisdom, others healing, others prophecy, and so on. But even though we are all gifted differently, we are all "the body of Christ, and each one is a part of it" (I Cor. 12:27).
This is a lot like the classical orchestra. Some people play violin, others play trombone, and still others play oboe -- like me! Even though they all belong to different families of instruments, together, they all make up the ensemble. And while they might sound good by themselves, in order to perform a symphony, they must all play together -- in tone, in tune, and in time -- or else the music simply won't work.
But even when everything comes together as it should, the product doesn't always come out perfect the first time, even for professionals. Good teamwork requires practice: time, effort, and understanding.
Paul explains this with an extended metaphor in chapter 12. He says that the church body is a lot like a physical body. If the eye were to say to the hand, "I don't need you," there would be some serious dysfunctions. In the orchestra, if the flutes don't know where the clarinets take over the melody, the concert will be flawed and the performance won't mesh. And finally, if the church isn't all working together for a unified goal, while also understanding where their fellow members are heading, it is nearly impossible to fully take advantage of the opportunities God has provided for His kingdom.
We can apply this principle of teamwork to the practical use of spiritual gifts within a church. Some of us work great in children's ministries. Others enjoy interceding as prayer warriors for their church family members. But if we don't all work together for the corporate goal of glorifying God and edifying others, then we aren't living up to our full potential as a church.
And sometimes, even when individuals are working in the ministries that complement their spiritual gifts, we still need to practice as a team to make the most of it. Professional musical ensembles rehearse together for a reason, and it's not to simply see where they sit on the stage -- they have to listen to each other and learn their parts in context so that they can give the best possible performance.
Do you know what your God-given spiritual gifts are? Perhaps it's time to take a closer look at how God is working in your life. Read more of I Corinthians, talk to your church family members, pray for guidance, and take some gift assessments to take stock of yourself.
God has designed you uniquely for the ministry He has planned for you (Jeremiah 29:11). All you need to do is go out and grab it! Because no one on this side of glory knows what beautiful symphony He might be planning for you and our church in 2017.
But one thing I do know is this: We can't do it without YOU!
Musically and faithfully yours,
Worship & Media Director
Riviera Baptist Church