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Reform Magazine | December 7, 2023

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Commitment-Phobe: Trial by fire

Commitment-Phobe: Trial by fire

A worship leading trial by fire

I survived my trial by fire as a worship leader. When I realised that there was no one to play instruments, I thought I was going to have to lead a whole service a capella. Eventually I found a young, local missionary girl from Brazil who comes to our church and was available to play guitar − but I could have done without the three hours of frantic calls and texts.

On the day, as always, we had other obstacles to deal with. There was no one to run or even turn on the software that projects the words of hymns and liturgy. Our volunteer service leader was trying to log on right up until two minutes before the service started. It made him so flustered that he forgot to open the service with a prayer, just said hello and handed over to me to lead worship. We all survived, and had some fun along the way. But it got me thinking about what serving in church seems to mean.

If I am the manager of a team, when I go away on holiday do I expect them to get on with things because they are all competent? Do I do a handover? Do I make myself available, remotely, to help out? Or do I just take my time off? In theory, a holiday is a holiday, so there should be no contact with work and no working yourself to the bone beforehand to ‘allow’ yourself the time off. Why then, when things go wrong in church, do I feel that my vicar does not have this right?

I am a volunteer. Currently, in my church, anyone who is not the vicar, cleaner or administrator is a volunteer. We are trying to recruit a new worship leader and a youth pastor. We have a children’s work intern (who seems to work harder than anyone, for not a penny). We have many Sunday school and youth volunteers, as well as volunteers for home visits and for weekly gatherings with our elders. But in a place where volunteering is so necessary, I am constantly frustrated by the lack of communication and simple handover information. What is the password for the worship software and why has no one ever written it down? How do you set up the sound levels correctly if your sound person doesn’t turn up? Why do you have to scroll through seven versions of confession and absolution liturgy on the worship software without finding the right one, when you have never done this before and are in a panic? When a volunteer is opening the church, why aren’t they given a set of keys beforehand?…

Commitment-Phobe is a Christian


This is an extract from an article that was published in the June 2018 edition of  Reform

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