By Eli Bayless
This last Sunday, January 29th was officially my last Sunday as the worship pastor at Riverlawn Christian Church. I could not be more grateful and excited for my time as Worship Pastor and for this next season that God has led me to with our Youth Ministry, but on Sunday I really began reflecting over my time as the Worship Pastor here and I wanted to share my thoughts.
When I began volunteering leading worship to fill in the vacancy left in the worship leader spot I had little to no experience leading from that sort of position. I had been a part of worship ministries my whole life, but never as the one “in charge” of the whole deal. In the moment, this gave me every reason to second guess whether or not this was even a job that I would be able to do. No experience, no degrees, no guitar, things were not off to an amazing start. As I look back now (almost 3 years later) I see that my inexperience is what motivated me on a journey of growing in my faith and my understanding of worship as I learned what it really meant to be a worship Pastor.
I found numerous mentors along the way, people to look up to, tips and tricks to learn from, but at the end of it, the thought that I can’t escape is “what did you learn?” What is it that made the difference, what is it that has made the worship ministry at Riverlawn so thriving and vibrant. I’ve thought over this question for a little while now and I think to sum it up into one key word it would be, “communion.”
I want to clarify that I don’t mean bread and juice. I don’t even mean that part of our Sunday services. Isn’t it funny how in our Christian circles we use a word over and over again until we forget what it really means? Anyway, here is how Websters dictionary defines communion.
com´mu´nion: 1. an act or instance of sharing, or 2. Intimate fellowship or rapport.
So when I say communion, what I mean is that in our worship both corporately and privately, we have grown to more deeply understand that the purpose of it all and the engine that motivates every different type of our worship, should be sharing in an intimate fellowship with God. As I’ve tried to learn what it takes to be an effective worship pastor I feel that this is the most valuable lesson I have come to know and the one I hope and pray I was able to pass on to all of the people I was able to meet and minister to.
I believe wholeheartedly, the single greatest component to our worship as a congregation is communion.
Communion with one another and most importantly communion with Christ. In fact I would say that any attempt at worshipful communion with one another under any pretense BUT the finished work of Christ would be idolatrous at best. If when we gather, or when we find ourselves alone with the Lord, we begin always by quieting our hearts and asking the Holy Spirit to keep fellowship with the Father, through the work of Jesus at the center of our focus, our worship of God will never cease to grow and flourish and radiate the Glory of God. After all communion with God doesn’t take place because of anything you or I have accomplished, certainly nothing that I was able to muster in my time as worship pastor. True “sharing in an intimate fellowship with the God of the universe” takes place only because of the central and singular focus of the finished work of Christ.
So in reflecting on my time as worship pastor at Riverlawn, I want to thank all of you for helping me to learn this lesson time and time again. That our true worship takes place only because of the new and perfect way made for us by Jesus. A way that leads to sincere worship through countless acts of sharing in an intimate fellowship with our glorious creator God.
I love you church.