STRENGTHENED BY THE FELLOWSHIP OF MINISTRY
The longer I serve in ministry the more convinced I am of the need for strong fellowship among ministers. I preach that need when I have opportunity to try and foster strong fellowship within a multiple-minister staff. As all Tennessee Worship Music Ministers know I preach the need for fellowship among fellow worship ministry leaders in towns, associations, in regions, and of course as part of the state fellowship. I encourage participation in larger national organizations, conferences, and opportunities as well. I suppose to the uninformed they might look on ministry groups as just a kind of professional club, or a musicians lunch bunch. Talking “shop” to some might seem a waist of time or something they would rather save for an internet chatroom or online seminar. True ministry fellowship goes much deeper. Regardless of what it might look like from the outside, lifelong friendships are developed and fostered in the relationships begun in these groups. These relationships have always played an important role in my own life and ministry, personal and vocational, which is a reason I believe in their value so strongly. In fact, I really believe the importance they have played in my life has been one of the means by which the Lord has prepared me for my present ministry role. It is not just about what I get out of the relationships, but there is rich fulfillment in contributing to and with others.
Events of this week have reminded me in potent ways how critical these relationships can be. First, there was the celebration of life service last Monday, and the close-up reminder of a close relationship between our brothers Scott Andrews and Allen Bowling, now at Jesus’ side. I was reminded by the powerful ministry of 30 brothers along with Mary McDonald as we shared music for Allen’s service and sought to express our love to Trish and that dear family. I was also reminded by the numerous calls and emails from others who simply could not arrange the trip on such short notice, but expressed prayerful support. All the way to Johnson City and back home I was reminded as well in the sharing of the journey with our carload, Wayne Causey, Richard Dickerson, and Phil Lundy. Somehow the emotional and physical burden is lightened when there is opportunity to laugh and cry together and keep one another alert for the long miles of a late night trip, punctuated by quick stops for burgers and potty breaks.
The rest of the week continued this theme for me in that I was at Union and got to spend a bit of time with students, with my dear friend, Chris Mathews and with a couple of pastors, a new bivocational music leader to be, and had lunch with a Worship Music Minister who has my same last name, Ricky Clark. At the end of a long day in the office trying to catch up on reports due and planning details I got a call from Ebbie who had been in a wreck. Before I even began to drive on my speedy journey to where the accident occurred I texted Wayne to let him know I would not be at choir rehearsal and to ask for prayer for Ebbie. Part of sharing the journey is praying for our families and family concerns. Thursday had me in Memphis to do a site visit at Kirby Woods where TLC and TMC will rehearse before convention and then Johnny Coggin and I went down so he could introduce me to the staff ministers at Memphis Union Mission where the groups will be singing Monday, November 9. Again, the joy of relationship in ministry was expressed in fellowship. After sharing fellowship at lunch and return to Kirby Woods Johnny introduced me around to his fellow staff ministers and assistants. So many signs of healthy relationships and shared kingdom focus.
In three short weeks we have opportunity to come together as Worship Music Ministers and as music ministry leaders for events surrounding the TBC SUMMIT. TMC has a concert Sunday evening in Dresden, TLC and TMC rehearse Monday at Kirby Woods and sing and serve at the Memphis Union Mission Monday evening, and sing for worship at the ANNUAL MEETING on Tuesday. For some it will seem too much to cram in to an already hectic schedule of ministry activity. I strongly encourage you to see it instead as part of your journey as a fellow minister and leader in the church and in the Kingdom. These shared times of ministering together build us as disciples in the fellowship of kingdom work, and foster relationships for the times when the call about a death, or a wreck, or a joy, or a need are made to or from your phone, or when you need to spend a day or a lunch with a brother or sister who is part of a healthy ministry staff.
‘til we see Him face to face tune our hearts to sing Your grace.’