By Mark Roach
I remember when I started as the Music/Media Director for Morning Star Church almost 16 years ago. I was 24 years old. I don’t know if I’d classify myself as succinctly as ‘young and stupid’ but that probably comes pretty close. One of the reasons, looking back, that I would say that is that I resisted the idea of meeting regularly with and gathering wisdom—and friendship—from those in my area doing the same thing I was doing. As I looked around, I thought I was pretty capable and didn’t think I needed wise guides who were further along than I—or even people in the trenches I had just jumped into for that matter. It wasn’t that I didn’t like other people. It wasn’t even really that I thought I was better than everyone else. I just didn’t see the value of a tribe.
Now, as I turn 40 and look back at almost 16 years of ministry—the joy, the pain, the reward, the sacrifice—I see the immense value of a tribe.
We all know that community is important, but sometimes we lie to ourselves by believing that community can exist exclusively within the confines of our ministry. After all, the ministry is reaching out, there are constantly new people entering our community. Still, I submit to you that community outside your context is incredibly important, too.
For several years I’ve been attending a small, intimate conference in Nashville, TN that really emphasizes the tribe—the word itself and the concept of it. Since then, I’ve worked to foster relationships between like-minded creatives here in our area as well. It’s been fascinating to hear the ideas others have. It’s been a privilege to be able to pray for them and their ministries. I lead at a larger church than many in our area, and I’ve had the blessing of being able to resource other worship leaders in a pinch with gear, stage props, ideas, musicians, my time, etc. And when life and/or ministry gets rough—or I just find myself facing a conflict, question or situation that I just can’t or don’t necessarily want to tackle alone—these are the people who I know I can turn to. I get the way they’re wired, and they get me. These are people that will pray for me on a moment’s notice. People that have had to have difficult conversations with volunteers, have struggled with their Pastors, fielded complaints from the congregation, and sacrificed time with their families for the sake of ministry just like me.
This part is important: it really doesn’t matter if they sing well, direct well, make records, write songs, prefer hymns, serve communion weekly or even agree with me about politics for that matter! They. Are. In. Ministry. And a creative ministry at that. That’s an enormous common denominator and if you plan to have any sort of longevity in ministry, you need them and they need you.
So my point is short and sweet. Lock arms with like-minded people doing what you do at other churches in your area. Pray for them. Pray with them. Love them. Help them. Serve them. Give them an opportunity and a reason to do the same for you. If there’s one thing I’ve learned about ministry, it’s this: If it’s worth your time, your energy, your passion, your sacrifice...it’s worth a tribe.