We wrapped up another incredible year of Fine Arts at Trevecca University in Nashville, TN. Let me point out something you may already know, students are amazing! Yes, our students are amazing, but also, your students are amazing! Sometimes they get an unfair judgment about being lazy, uncaring, selfish, etc. What I saw this weekend was passion, drive, work ethic, love and grace. Lots and lots of grace!
Over the past few years our ministry has developed. We now have a Fine Arts Director, Middle School Pastor, at least 12 Small Group Leaders, and an incredible Wednesday night team. Needless to say, this wasn’t always the case. Doing ministry alone is challenging and wonderful all at the same time. I think you may understand the side of challenging, but let me explain the side of wonderful. I pray you do not judge me for what I am about to share next. When it is only you, you get all the praise. All the accolades come your way. Everyone looks to you for solutions, programs, and even problems can have a strange way of making you feel important. The struggle of wanting to grow and develop fights against the idea of being the face of everything. I had a godly man prophecy ‘double’ over my wife and I four to five years ago. I remember being excited, expecting growth and potentially more pats on the back. I would never say this out loud, and even in my thoughts I tried to push them away. Yet, they lingered. Our students asked what we thought that meant, and honestly we only thought growth. Our youth group will double. We will be somebodies. God has finally seen all of our sweat and tears we have poured into this program and He is going to honor us! (Have I made you dislike me yet?!)
What I didn’t know, is that God was changing our hearts. I knew how I should be, but to actually be okay with that is another. Our pastor preached a powerful sermon about using our hands, feet and mouth correctly for God. He concluded with the thought that none of it matters if our heart is not right behind the scenes. The shift for me came suddenly (a fun Bible word that we should see more of in our context of life) when I read a post from a fellow TYM (Tennessee Youth Ministries) youth pastor.
“If you want double you must be willing to take half the credit.” This was in reference to Elisha. He had double the ministry of Elijah and double the blessing, but really gets half the screen time. We reference Elijah as the great one, yet Elisha did so much more.
Suddenly, I knew that this is the ‘double’ that was prayed over us. It struck something deep inside my heart. Since then I have prayed and conversed with my pastor about starting a middle school ministry because we are losing 6th graders. We have done the same over our ministry called The Foundry, for graduated students called to ministry. We split our Sunday School (Small Groups) into four classes with three teachers to each. Fine Arts is another area that has the potential for growth and discipleship and should be utilized to the full. We saw a glimpse of the fulfillment at Fine Arts this year. This could not happen by myself. We would see burn-out. We would see programs fade or become competition based. God sent us Domenic Andolina from Pennsylvania. He was teaching in Frayser, TN when I met him, with a desire to use the arts to worship God.
One of our students sent out a random, half-joking tweet after Nationals a few years back. “Any Fine Arts coaches want to move to Memphis?!” Domenic responded, and I felt prompted to take a risk. I didn’t know him but loved his heart. I also knew, I can’t do this alone. We are better together. (Side note: this is not a paid position. Sometimes payment is more than money, and we surely can’t limit what God can do because we can’t provide a salary. Don’t sell yourself, your ministry, or God short!) We have seen incredible fruit from all of these ministries and the best is yet to come. Youth ministry does not happen without willing parents, willing leaders, willing students, and pastors willing to let go. I can truly stand here today and say that I am so proud of everyone else who was rewarded and honored this weekend. This is how it should be. We are better together than we can ever be alone. Let God stretch you.
If you are curious about the heart behind our Fine Arts program, here is a short paragraph posted by Domenic Andolina in regards to participating in Fine Arts this year. This is our heart:
Dear OSC Fine Arts Participants,
We have worked very hard the last 4 months.
We have left practices STOKED and we have left practices frustrated.
We have cried and laughed and loved.
Only one thing matters this coming weekend.
I’ll give you a hint: it’s not in winning, placing, beating another church, or giving a perfect performance.
We only have one goal: worship God.
How do we do this?
By encouraging others when we see a stellar performance.
By opening doors for others.
By carrying a heavy load someone else has.
We will be running around, making sure we make the performances we want to see.
But please, remember this: we are to worship God this coming weekend.
This is all that matters.
We are ready to give an answer to the hope that is within us.
We are ready to love.
Let’s show Nashville what God is doing in Memphis.
#901 #ready #OSCFineArts19