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Swindoll: Good ministerial relationships vital for church’s worship

FORT WORTH, Texas (BP)–Honest and supportive relationships between worship leaders are necessary for a church to reflect God’s plan for worship, Bible teacher Chuck Swindoll said at the 2004 Church Music Workshop at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas, Feb. 17-19.

Swindoll, who serves as senior pastor at Stonebriar Community Church in Frisco, Texas, is widely known for his radio ministry, “Insight for Living,” and his many books. At the Church Music Workshop he and Bruce Stevenson, executive pastor of worship and music at Stonebriar, talked about how pastors and staff can work together.

“Relationships are the foundation,” Swindoll said. “Just beyond the relationship with Christ is the [importance of] relationship with one another. “… We don’t tolerate lingering offenses or difficulties among individuals,” he said. “If there is such, I’m not aware of it, and as soon as I’m aware of it, we talk it through. If we can’t, somebody has got to go.

“We embrace worship as a major reason we are on the planet,” Swindoll said, “and Sunday provides us with the opportunity to do it corporately.”

Stevenson outlined five pillars of worship: education, balance, excellence, creativity and character. Education, he noted, is a vital element of worship because it ensures continuity between the history of the church and future generations.

Swindoll and Stevenson both emphasized several tims the importance of balance in worship. Acknowledging that many churches face dissension between members about worship styles, Swindoll put the issue in perspective. “We have centuries of history, which is one of the treasures of the church,” he said. “It just fries me to think that everything is now about 1990 on. How dumb can you get? Nothing I preach is from 1990, but now it’s all about 2004.”

Stevenson said that incorporating the great hymns of the faith and modern Christian music into worship services helps keep things interesting.

“Chuck has often told me that people come up to him and say, ‘I didn’t like what you did this Sunday morning,’ and his response is, ‘Well, come back next week because it will be different,’” Stevenson said. “We will seek to use every means that we can to bring the Word of God to life and to bring worship to life as well.”

If someone consistently and uncharitably complains about the church’s worship style, it may be in the church’s and that person’s best interest for him or her to worship elsewhere, Swindoll said. At the very least, worship leaders should not let a vocal minority shape how they plan worship services.

“You cannot let a carping critic or two shape your philosophy,” Swindoll said. “We are not here to give you what you want; we are here to provide what you need.”

Stevenson offered his own conviction about putting music style preference ahead of true worship: “I think we, as worship leaders, will to some degree stand judged because of the way we have divided churches based solely on musical preference.”

Swindoll said the lack of creativity he sees in many modern services is unworthy of the God we serve.

“Many churches have become business meetings with music and words thrown in, and that angers me,” Swindoll said. “God gets the leftovers.”

Swindoll encouraged the workshop participants to pursue authenticity in worship because it reflects one of God’s attributes and is exactly what people need.

“Bruce never makes me smile, or forces it, or dumb stuff like that. That is all manipulative stuff,” Swindoll said. “Some folks do not come to smile. Their hearts are broken. Their husband left last week or their kid walked out, or they found out she is pregnant or the boy is on drugs. They didn’t come to play games -– they came to meet with God.”

Swindoll said his relationship with Stevenson makes possible the implementation of a worship style which reaches out to everyone in the congregation.

“Whenever I disagree with him, I tell him. Whenever I think we may have gotten a little too extreme, I tell him. When I think we need to lighten up on something, I say it, and he is just as free to say to me whatever he needs to say,” Swindoll said. “It is all about that relationship. If you are sitting on pins and needles, you cannot talk like that. You cannot even think like that.”
(BP) photo posted in the BP Photo Library at https://www.bpnews.net. Photo title: SWINDOLL’S COUNSEL.

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  • Samuel Smith