It has been a year and a half since I began ministering here in New Jersey. Hard to believe it has been that long. Hard to believe it has only been that long.
When I interviewed for the position, I was told that part of my duties under the worship half of my job description would be to transition the church from organ-led traditional worship to a blended style of worship that includes organ/traditional music and other instrument/contemporary worship. (Caveat: I don’t think that an organ necessitates traditional or can’t be contemporary, but it certainly is not done in my current context, and I can’t exactly imagine “Blessed Be Your Name” from an organ.) I had made significant headway in that area at the previous congregation I served, so I was not intimidated by such a task. Taking a cue from an adjunct professor from seminary, I declared my intention to not introduce change until I had observed the church for a year.
The year was up last August, and, on cue, I began introducing new songs. At a board meeting in December, the discussion about the pace of change came up, and the general consensus was that things were not happening fast enough. The impression was that the congregation wanted more, more, more. So I revved things up quite a bit and started introducing more new music.
So this month, at another board meeting, the general consensus was that I am going to fast. Too much new. Too quickly. And I just find that ironic.
Generally, I like to introduce a song and sing it three weeks in a row, and then continue for a few additional weeks with familiar songs before introducing the next new song. I thought that is what I was doing. And I said so at the board meeting. I wanted further instruction on where the middle road was between the “not enough” of December and the “too much” of February. This morning I went back through all of the orders of service since August and reviewed what we have sung when, and how often. Turns out I haven’t been doing such a good job with my intended approach for introducing new songs. That’s what I get for being high and mighty and thinking that I know best automatically.
Nothing like a kick in the pants to get you back to where you need to be. Or should I say, get me back to where I need to be?
Fortunately, the church really does want the change. I’m thankful for a community that is willing to walk along the path together, and even follow someone who stumbles along, such as me.