Wednesday, July 01, 2009
Getting away this week from the regular-ness of my life and work has been personally and professionally much needed and greatly valued.
Being at Ridgecrest is a rich tradition of the strange combination of heritage and sentimentality. There are people here who have been coming to this place every year for 40 or more years. I'm not sure what I think of that - I guess if it has helped them deepen their ministry, and encouraged them to "stay the course", then I supposed that's a good thing. If on the other hand, it has become a place for purely reminiscing, then I am not so sure we can afford to sit around for too long pondering the "good ole' days!"
It has been interesting to see how this place has evolved through the years. (The last time I was here for this particular week was 15 years ago.) I applaud LifeWay for working hard to continue to be a ministry resource and equipping center for churches all over America - that is no easy task these days.
I am also noticing how tough it is to be in ministry these days. Everyone here is dealing with the stuff of life, and how to minister to people who seem to be hurting more now than ever before (not sure that that is necessarily true, but it seems so), while trying to lead ministries with not nearly enough resources, attempting to manage/balance their ministry and family - all the while dealing with pastors who are being told by every person with a book deal, website, and a conference how they are supposed to grow their church - often times at the expense of some wonderful men and women who merely want to help people worship God more genuinely and effectively. Many of these folks are dealing with churches who have made the questionable decision to "market" worship services based on a style of music.
These are indeed difficult days for many, many local church Music & Worship Ministries.
I can't help but think about this tunnel that we drove through to get to the mountains. So often, we think of a tunnel in terms of "well - just remember, there's a light at the end of the tunnel" or my favorite even more stupid line - "there's a light at the end of the tunnel and it's a freight train!"
I choose to look at this tunnel in a different way - someone, somewhere, at sometime determined that the only or best way for someone to get from point A to point B with a mountain in the way was to "tunnel" through or under that mountain. No easy task, and probably the person or people who thought that up were severely criticized and questioned. But, they persevered, and as a result, we have a nice, smooth ride "through/under" that mountain on our way to a glorious destination like Ridgecrest.
So, for myself and my new friends I am making here this week, I encourage us all to look at wherever we are in the tunnel of our ministry - not so much that there is light at the end as much as what is it that God wants us to learn from where we are right now.