Finding Willing Hearts and True
John 4:23 NIV
… true worshipers … are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks.
1 Samuel 16:7b NIV
The LORD does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.”
Luke 6:45 NLT
A good person produces good deeds from a good heart,
and an evil person produces evil deeds from an evil heart.
Whatever is in your heart determines what you say.
Perhaps it is time to join the Father on His heart-search.
While we are looking for sopranos, altos, tenors and basses or brass, woodwind, and string players for our orchestra, or rhythm players for the worship band, the Father is looking for true worshipers. He is looking for singers and players whose hearts are for the Lord. The musical aspects of recruiting are easy to judge compared to the heart issues. How can we build a ministry that attracts true-hearted people? How can we help the people we have develop true hearts?
Finding True Hearts
Share your heart.
If we are to please the Lord, our worship and our music must come from our hearts. Ministry through the arts always has been and always will be a heart-thing. Why not recruit from your heart? The passion of your heart is one of the most powerful tools in your tool kit. Your heart will be seen in your ministry.
If someone were to ask the members of your group to describe your heart, each of them could readily answer.
- “He loves the Lord so much!”
- “She really cares about us!”
- “He is such a perfectionist!”
- “I don’t even think she knows my name.”
- “He is one of those musicians you know, temperamental and touchy.”
- “She really knows how to flow with the Spirit!”
Why are music/worship leaders so transparent? Two reasons:
- music and worship flow from the heart, and
- from the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.
The first step in recruiting “hearts willing and true” is to be one. Share your passion for the Lord, for worshiping Him, for His church, and for His lost, lost world. Those who share these concerns will be drawn to you. Artists who are moved by these things will want to do their art under your leadership.
Building True Hearts
Lead with your heart.
Along with the people who share your ministry passion will come those whose passions lie elsewhere or who hold different priorities.
- Some will have a passion for the art of music itself.
- A few will be looking for a music group as a platform for displaying their own musical gifts and skills.
- Others will just want to belong to something important.
The role of the Holy Spirit is to build in each member a true and willing heart.
When the heart of the ministry is truly reflected in the schedule and activities of the ministry, something exciting happens. The ministry actually functions as a “refiner’s fire and launderer’s soap” (Mal 3:2-4) in the Lord’s hands to purify the hearts of the singers and players.
When false or impure hearts are present in the group, they will clash with ministry rather than flow with it.
You choir, orchestra, or worship team will have “heart trouble.” When these conflicts occur, the leader has the opportunity to assist the Holy Spirit in the heart-building process. This makes us so different from the conductor of music in the community or in schools. We are in the heart business, not just the music business.
What Makes a Heart Willing and True?
If we want to be true-hearted and willing leaders, if we want to attract true and willing hearted singers and players, and if we want to join the Holy Spirit in His “heart transplant” ministry, we need to understand the true and willing heart. I will take these five characteristics in reverse order, leading to the most important.
5. We need people who have a heart for the art of music.
The music we make is important. The ways we prepare it and present it are also important. We deal in functional art, that is, art judged on how well it does the job rather than on artistic merits alone. But the aesthetics of music are still of extreme importance. Because the music is for the Lord, (see number 1) it simply must be our very best. The musical demands of the ministry need to be presented in a spiritual light as an offering from our hearts to the Lord’s heart, not just personal desires of the conductor. The excellence of the message coming from our hearts must be matched by the excellence of the music coming from our hearts.
4. We are looking for people who have a heart for the church.
One of my favorite expressions from the scriptures is “in the midst of the assembly.” (Ps 22:22-23) We make music and art with a profound sense of the congregation. When we lead them in worship, we must sing their heart-songs—the music and themes that open their hearts to the Lord. Some people attempt to love and serve the Lord Jesus while holding His church in little regard if not outright hostility or contemptible ambivalence. The people of the church are not our audience. They are our family, our brothers and sisters, fathers and mothers, elders and progeny. Our singers, players and technicians need to have a heart for the church.
3. We need people who have a heart for the world.
We have a story to tell, the most important story of all, the only story that redeems the soul from death. The people who sing and play with us need to be touched by the needs of mankind, specifically, the need of people for Jesus. We must not allow the focus of our music and art to be inward or even upward only. As worshipers of the Lord Jesus, we are captured by His heart for a lost world spiraling downward in sin and rebellion. As He did over Jerusalem, we must weep over our cities and towns as we transform our platforms into theatrical stages to show His story and as we take our music and art out of the safe confines of our sanctuaries into His streets. A passion for the world will result in extra rehearsals, extra performances, new venues of performance, and many personal sacrifices.
2. We need people with a heart for worship.
Applause is often the primary goal of the performer. The approval of people can be an addiction that controls the heart. This needy heart will pump trouble into your music/worship ministry. We need artists who are worshipers like Mary of Bethany who poured her most prized possession, an alabaster jar of expensive perfume, on Jesus. Their primary goal is the sense of His approval. This passion for worship regards rehearsals and performances as acts of worship, musical excellence as a holy thing, and private spirituality as essential as public piety.
1. We need people with a heart for Jesus.
The number one passion of the people we seek should be a devotion to Jesus.
- For some who have come into faith after a season or a lifetime of sin, a heart for the glory the Lord will be the energy of their efforts.
- For others who have grown up in church, the temptation will be to serve the system and have the system serve them.
The activities of the ministry, whether rehearsals, worship services or outreach events, will help build a passion for Jesus. He truly does capture our hearts as we break our alabaster jars and pour our devotion on Him. His approval is so much more satisfying than the applause of people. A heart for Jesus transforms artistic disciplines into discipleship processes, performances into acts of devotion, and ensembles into bands of brothers and sisters.
Avoid “Bait and Switch” Recruiting
It can happen two ways:
- we recruit strictly on the basis of talent and skill and then conduct the ministry as a spiritual enterprise, or
- we have a “spiritual” enlistment then conduct the ministry solely as a musical group.
The two sides of what we do, musical and spiritual, will each attract people. We should present the ministry to prospective members as having both these factors in proper proportion and then conduct the ministry that way. Artists will be drawn in by their love for their art and they will grow a heart for Jesus. Worshipers will join and they will grow as artists.
True and Willing Hearts Find a Home
Our ministries should be a haven for the artist and a sanctuary for the worshiper.
- Though starting at different places, one with the pursuit of music and the other with the quest for God’s presence, true and willing hearts meet in our ministries.
- As we watch artists become worshipers and worshipers become artists, we sense the Lord’s presence and His pleasure.
And from the abundance of hearts willing and true, transforming truth flows like a healing stream into a world that has been lied to and wounded.
© 2016 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved
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