The Mission of Gathered Worship Ministry
The following is a training piece for members of the Gathered Worship Ministry team at Christ Community Church. Click the above player if you prefer to listen along.
I was recently reminded that a worship team needs to be more than a group of technicians or musicians performing together, they need to be a family or tribe with shared values, history, and heart.  If you have been serving with our ministry for years, you may have already developed a sense of this. Yet others have only recently joined or are about to. Such is the nature of ministry with a large church, especially in a college town. We don’t, and can’t, all share the same history. Our Gathered Worship Ministry is, at times, a collaboration of pseudo-strangers with complementary skills doing their best to accomplish the somewhat-clear goal of serving Jesus through music and technology. This isn’t a bad thing at all, but it could be more.
A joy in following Jesus is knowing we are a part of God’s broader family in Christ, but I want each team member to feel like a part of this family here at Christ Community and especially this Gathered Worship Ministry family. Some of this can only be achieved through faithful engagement together over time, but it can be helped by a shared and clarified understanding of mission.
Years ago, Christ Community determined that its specific mission, under the great commission, was to Connect people to life-defining relationships in Christ. Our three-pronged strategy in accomplishing this mission was to invite people to Gather, Connect, and Serve (emphasis mine).
From these sentences alone, you could likely begin to articulate how your role serves the church’s mission. How would you say it? What is your missional goal with the ministry? You know that you are a part of “Gather”, and you know that somehow this helps people connect to Christ. So let’s take these pieces and put them together in a ministry-specific mission statement, understanding what it means, and walking together in it. Here’s my hot take: The Gathered Worship Ministry at Christ Community Church exists to
Connect people to life-defining encounters with the presence of Christ as they gather.
See? Your suspicions are confirmed: I’m not particularly clever. I simply borrowed great ideas from other people and put them together in the same way you were about to. This statement is what I believe we should be all about. I hope to say it so frequently (mostly to myself) that it sinks down deep and we either get sick of it, write songs, or make jokes about it. After all, that’s just about the time I usually memorize something.
Let’s own it and pray it often. With this as a foundation, I believe we can be a family. Upon it, we can build our house of shared values and heart. A wise man once said, “Words matter”  and so I would like to explore each word in-depth and invite you to lean in with me. You’ve come this far, and it’s too late for me to promise brevity, but I will offer clarity in the hope of unity and prosperity. In other words: Let’s do this.
Why do we “connect people”? Because people today live in a broken world with a highly divisive, hyper-sensationalized social climate. People feel isolated and Satan loves it. Look at the book of Genesis and see how the Serpent waited to strike until he had the woman alone. It has been his tactic from the beginning. It is the gateway to all kinds of sin and temptation. What did God say from the beginning? The first “not good”? “It is not good that the man should be alone…” (Gen. 2:18). Sure He was referring to man and woman, but the concept applies more broadly. People are made for connection, and especially, connection with God. Jesus’ strength against the devil in the desert and the source of power for His earthly ministry was His connection to the Father (Matt. 4:1-11). Connection to God matters, and people matter to God (John 3:16). So we strive in our gathered worship to foster a connection to God for people. Did I mention connection and people? Did I mention repetition?
Let’s move along to “life-defining”. Okay. Does it really warrant definition if “defining” is in the phrase? Isn’t this one sort of obvious? Perhaps, but there’s an important thing to be said about worship here: What we worship will define us. What we devote ourselves to will shape our life. What we consume, we will become. People were made by the Creator for a purpose: To be image-bearers. It was God’s definition for us. We rejected this and have been searching for our identity ever since. Praise God, He made a way back through Christ. All week long, the people we serve face an onslaught of the world’s lifeless attempts at definition apart from God. In the ministry of gathering, we offer people a weekly chance at a reset – a fresh look at who they are in the light of grace – a relieving reminder that they are now children of God through Christ and no longer need to conform to the patterns of this world. How powerful. The weekly gathering with God and His people leads to a life defined by God for other people. So we work in our gathered worship to connect people to God in a life-defining way.
What makes a gathering of people life-defining in the way God intends? When those people experience an encounter with the presence of Christ. People come together all the time for all sorts of reasons. Apparently, there’s an entire nation that gathers for the Cyclones. But it’s just a bunch of people with people problems and people solutions until God walks in the room.
There is not an account in the Bible of a person or people unchanged by an encounter with the presence of God. His presence comes and proud people fall on their faces, the timid prophecy, the blind see, the dead come alive. But our fallen eyes can’t see Him and so our team’s primary job as we gather is to help people see with eyes of faith by proclaiming the presence of the living God in our midst. We must acknowledge and marvel at the incredible privilege of His presence, and especially in the name of Christ through Whom this privilege is made possible.
How do we do this? Through our preparation, our disposition, and for platform leaders, our presence. I address this more thoroughly in other resources, so I will state simply here: Our careful attention to these areas is the difference between helping and hindering the congregation. We must come to the gathering or rehearsal prepared, ready to act winsomely for the kingdom, expressing in our stage presence our awe at the presence of God as we gather.
The final component of our missional statement is no less important. We are the Gather ministry for a reason. We believe that there is something crucial to a life-defined in Christ that is uniquely fueled by the regular rhythm of gathering. A whole life of worship is indeed what we are called to as Christians, but to come full circle, the Christian is only successful through connection. Satan wants to get us alone. As Hebrews 10:25 basically says, “We gotta do this together.” Scripture also testifies in many places to the unique work of the Spirit amid God’s people as they gather. It is so much more than a human tradition, or a mindless ritual on a Sunday morning. It is the people of God coming together to meet with Him. If we do this right, we make disciples, pointing them to the Spirit who fills them for a bigger view of worship as a life-encompassing act. By God’s grace, I believe we will.
Will you pray this simple prayer with me, both now, and as a habit each week that you serve? Let’s let this launch us into the mission and the heart of worship each time we gather.
 Matthew 28:16-20
 His name is Wayne Stewart (I’m a big fan) and he said it to me on the day I married his daughter.
 Acts 9:1-9
 Acts 2:1-4
 Ibid (Hicks, p.39).
 Ibid, (Hicks, pg. 51)