The Danger of Disengagement
For the last 28 years, most of my worship experiences have been from behind an audio console or a director’s station; standing on a camera platform, or from some other technical position.
One of my primary pathways to connect with God has always been through serving the Church through technical ministry. I don’t do very well sitting in church like a “normal” person. But when I use the gifts and talents God has given me, I am fulfilled, encouraged, energized, and blessed – except for those days when I’m not.
As great as it is to serve the Lord, there’s a lurking danger to serving on the tech team, worship team, or preaching team – the danger of disengagement. Disengagement is when you are doing the tasks and going through the motions needed to make a worship service happen, but the content and heart of that service never penetrates your own heart. The very Gospel you are helping proclaim to the many, fails to impact the one – you.
The battle to fight disengagement is not a one-time event. It’s on-going, ever-changing, and must constantly be evaluated.
Surely not I Lord?
In Matthew 26, Jesus talks to his disciples at the Last Supper and tells them there is one among them that would betray Him. Verse 22 is very interesting:
Being deeply grieved, they each one began to say to Him, “Surely not I, Lord?” (NASB)
When we see a danger, we want to know if we’re in danger. “Surely not I, Lord?” Let me give you a few symptoms to help you determine if you may be disengaged.
- On your drive home after church, can you remember the key concept of the message?
- After church, can you remember the songs that were lifted up in worship? Did you have a moment where you praised God during worship?
- When you reflect on the service, do you remember the mistakes more than what went right?
- Did you, personally, talk to the Lord – even once – in the service that just finished?
- Overall, did you have joy while you served?
- Would you want your own kids to do what you did today, or would you try to protect them from experiencing what you just did?
- Overall, were you energized or drained by what you did?
- Do you have a greater desire to serve because of what you just experienced?
- How many times in a week do you talk about or think about quitting or escaping?
- Are you more cynical or less cynical than you were a year ago?
So is there a remedy or are people who serve the Lord in a church simply doomed? Maybe we are like football players who get so beat up while on the field that our careers are doomed to be brief.
Well, I believe there are some very practical things that we can do to protect ourselves from falling into a pattern of disengagement from the very experience we want our people to connect with and experience.
1. Pure Motives.
Isaiah 64:6 says all our righteous works are like filthy rags. We must never serve the Lord with a motive of trying to off-set the things we have done wrong.
2. Personal Worship.
As a servant of God, I have a responsibility to feed myself by reading and obeying God’s Word.
3. A Soft Heart.
I have to actively pursue a soft and pliable heart. If my heart is hard toward the things of God, no worship service will be able to penetrate that shell of cynicism and sarcasm.
4. Serve in Your Unique Ability.
Many times we’re serving in areas because there is a need. I learned a long time ago that running prompter is something I have the technical skill to do, but God has not given me the focus to do it well. But, directing video is exactly within my unique ability. I do it naturally, without even thinking about it. When you serve in your unique ability, you are energized, not drained by what you do. Disengagement can come simply because you are serving in the wrong capacity.
5. Don’t Serve Alone.
Ecclesiastes 4:12 says: A cord of three strands is not quickly broken. (NIV) When you place yourself on and serve with a team, you place yourself in a position to succeed longer. Rather than being a lone ranger trying to do everything, you have the resources, experience, prayers, and encouragement of several fellow servants. When we serve – not to be the hero, but instead out of gratitude – it’s easier and more enjoyable to share the load with a team.
6. Take a Week Off.
If you’re a volunteer, you should never allow yourself to be scheduled every week.
The danger of disengagement is amplified by the fact that Sunday comes every week.
The danger of disengagement is real and can devolve a passionate servant into a cynical, spiritually dead, hard-hearted hired hand that has wistful memories of shepherding the Lord’s sheep. I pray this weekend brings repentance and renewal as your ministry begins to once again reflect Romans 12:11: Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. (NIV)
Let me recommend a couple books to help you gain a deeper understanding of avoiding disengagement.
The Power of Full Engagement by Jim Loeh & Tony Schwartz
The Rest of God: Restoring Your Soul by Restoring Sabbath by Mark Buchanan