June 30, 2014

By Pam Ekey

Open yourselves to the possibility of the difference you can make in worship if you focus a little more, if you improve a little more, Bishop Robert Schnase told those who assembled for the clergy session Friday afternoon.
    
Those who are in a professional ministry role struggle to experience grace in worship as they are involved in leading the details of worship. Too much focus on attending to God can lead to unfocused, poor quality worship. But too much focus on the mechanics of worship can lead to methodical, uninspired worship. 
    
There is reluctance on the part of ministers and worship leaders to receive feedback from their congregation or from their peers, he said. That reluctance is rooted in a reluctance to admit there is room to improve the skill and craft of worship leadership. “I admire those who go out of their way to improve,” he said.
    
Schnase recalled when he was new to ministry he sought out a pastor, Janice Huie (now Bishop Huie), and spent three days delivering sermons and receiving feedback from her in order to improve his preaching skills. 
    
“I realized that every single week has a Sunday and every single Sunday has a worship service and every single service has a sermon, and I realized I had to become good at this,” said. It is our responsibility as clergy to provide meaningful worship every Sunday.
    
He asked clergy to discuss four questions: What is your earliest memory of worship? What is your earliest experience or memory of being asked to lead worship? What worship service has had the greatest impact on your life? And what learning experience has had the greatest positive impact on your leadership of worship or preaching?
    
The theme of this Annual Conference is Loving God in return, practicing passionate worship. He encouraged clergy to see the gift they have been given in preaching and worship leadership, and see how it can be used to deepen the faith of others. “If you get stuck preaching the next sermon, take a moment and realize the extraordinary impact your words have on other peoples’ lives. Your words can lift people to heaven,” he said.