Thinking inside the boxes

One week I received several boxes via FedEx and UPS. The items came in boxes of various sizes, shapes and wrappings. Going through boxes padded with “shipping peanuts,” air-filled plastic rolls and shredded-paper fluff, my thoughts turned to how the box theme might relate to today’s church scene.

By Bob Burroughs

Every church has multiple boxes.

There is the Worship Box. This box is very large, for it must accommodate a wide variety of people. The Worship Box often has “dividers” that are called such names as “Traditional,” “Blended,” “Contemporary,” “Southern Gospel” and “Classical” dividers, and always the “Way Outside the Box” divider.

Like other boxes, some of these worship dividers are quite full of fluff. One or a very small number of personalities usually drives the concept of this box, with the strongest personality/position/leader having the most perceived influence.

There is the Youth Ministry Box. This box destined for junior and senior high young people is led by youth leaders who are in touch with today’s youth, and hopefully a good staff of parent supporters who are also in touch and in tune with the concepts of a great youth ministry.

A church doesn’t have to be large to have a great youth ministry. They just must have committed and dedicated leadership whose goal is to make this happen. It can be done, if those involved are committed to providing a quality program.

There is the Senior Adult Box. In most churches this is also a very large box, and in it, we will find a wide age range of church people from 50-55 up to 100-plus.

This is a difficult box. The leader will have the younger seniors who want to go, do, be, work and lead. Then there are the older seniors, who think they have done their part, want to relax in the Lord, wish to often hear “job well done” and are content to eat a good meal at the weekly senior outing and sit to visit with friends.

Today’s younger generation desires to hear from seniors because they have wisdom, experience and know how to get the job done. This box needs great leadership to be able to keep these seniors involved, working, doing, teaching and just being available.

Those in the Young Adult Box will range in age from about 20 to late 40s. This group is usually the largest in any church program.

The people in this box are learning to be and some already are the leaders, movers, shakers and dreamers of tomorrow. The future of most churches falls into the people in this box.

Outstanding staff leadership is absolutely essential. These people, for the most part, wish to move forward, dream and have their dreams succeed. When they are held back by lack of leadership and vision or find themselves tradition-bound, this box may eventually lose its energy, vitality and interest.

Then, there is the Music Box. The people in this box are usually the most visual, up-front and more obvious than all the other boxes.

Music is vitally important to all the other boxes, for music is the foundation of most things that happen in today’s church.

The music that is learned and presented weekly – be it through the singing of the great hymns, music presented by the choirs, instrumentalists, keyboardists, praise teams, solos, hand-bell ensembles or vocal ensembles – will not be everyone’s cup of tea, and their criticism of the music is often loud and obvious.

Yet the vast majority do enjoy what is prepared and offered as a gift to God and a bonding of fellowship. But as you already suspect, the “silent majority” when things become difficult with the music ministry is just that: silent. The vocal few usually make their feelings known without hesitation.

Recently, I heard the comment, which I consider in very poor taste: “When Satan fell from heaven, he landed in the choir loft.” That sentence makes a false blanket statement that covers the entire music ministry of all churches. Certainly, there are programs in every church that could be characterized by this statement, but only the choir gets the blame.

There are thousands of examples in Scripture that proclaim the glory of music to worship God. Music has always been, and will always be, a vital part of the worship experience – God ordained, blessed and expected. It was with music that a multitude of angels announced the birth of the Lord Jesus.

What other kinds of boxes are in your church?

OPINION: Views expressed in Baptist News Global columns and commentaries are solely those of the authors.