John* came up to Pam one Sunday after church and shared how much he liked music and wondered if he would participate in our worship. Pam being one of our volunteer worship leaders, said sure, why don’t you come up on Saturday morning when we have our rehearsal, I’ll give you some music, you can sit by the piano or in the front row and sing along. Once I hear you sing and figure out where you are maybe you can participate. John, showed up Saturday, eager to sing. It was apparent that he didn’t have much musical training. I was volunteering to lead that week, and also leading the rehearsal. You would think that having this type of individual join a rehearsal would completely mess everything up. Actually in another church, or situation and even earlier in my time at St. Paul’s, it would have been quite the challenge.
This kind of thing isn’t new to Pam, who has taken on new developing musicians like lost kittens at times. I certainly don’t have the knack for either attracting or helping people in this situation. Honestly, it gets in the way of me running a rehearsal. This week, as I led the rehearsal, I watched with interest in how Pam was interacting with John. Other people have come to mind, such as James* who came to sing and participated in our worship, sometimes taking part by doing a reading rather than singing. Mike*, came and sang as well, and as with the others, didn’t have as much training and needed to develop more as a musician.
As I have watched Pam, I began to think about Saturday morning rehearsals as a place for mentoring. It certainly didn’t help with efficiency of time and quality of music, however it “smelled like Jesus” (to take a phrase from author and radio host Steve Brown). I might have thought that these folks would be better served through individual voice or music lessons, but bringing them to practice created an all together different dynamic. As these individuals came and went through our congregation, I realized that in God’s eyes taking the time to help someone learn to sing, was just as important as providing quality music for service. The rest of the worship team began to see that people were also important. They learned by seeing Pam’s example.
By providing a way for a singer to come to practice and try to sing with us, even when they might not even sing on a sunday, they were able to see the gospel in action. Who merits the grace and favor of God? Not me! None of us. This thing called church and worship music isn’t about my performance anyway. I say that all the time. Could it be that the father is just as happy with their singing as mine?
In taking time to love people who are interested in music but may not have the ability now or maybe ever, still is an approach to people that acknowledges their being created in the image of God. They have have value no matter their skill. Taking time for them both musically and personally Pam is modeling what our ministry, WDA, calls Life Coaching. “Meeting people where they are, helping them take the next step”®
I learned something these past few years watching my colleague take time to love someone practically during our rehearsals and sometimes even in our services. “Come on over next to me on the piano and sing.” What a great example to me and to others of the gospel at work.
Thanks Pam for teaching me how to love and showing me a practical way to bring others into community!
*John, James, Mike are fictitious names for actual people. There are probably many more!