Your accessibility is your ministry.
Through circumstance, employment and opportunity I’ve been in proximity with people far more talented than me for the majority of my professional career. I’ve had access behind the curtain, to VIP seating, executive lounges and the musician’s hideaway aka “The Green Room”.
For those reading who may not be familiar with performance culture, the Green Room is a designated lounge for performers to prepare or relax when they are not performing. In church culture it’s where the band (and sometimes pastoral staff) hang, eat and relax between services or even during church services. Most Green Rooms aren’t actually green. The room got its name from novice or “green” understudy actors who would use the room to prepare in the event that the leading actor they were understudying couldn’t perform.
In worship ministry, specifically at larger churches, it has become normalized for Green Rooms to become a place of retreat, a refuge for those carrying out the “up-front” ministry on stage. From this, a culture of inaccessibility for the “performers” in the church has become increasingly common.
Your accessibility is your ministry.
I am not sure when or why it became acceptable for church leaders and performers to be inaccessible. Whereas I understand and appreciate a place for a team to prepare and pray together, the ministry of our Lord, Jesus Christ was marked not only by his accessibility, but by his intentional gravitation toward the outcasts of society, to those who were marginalized and on the fringe. Those were the people Jesus was seeking to be with before and after He was preaching. If Jesus walked into our churches today, I think we’d be more likely to find Him in the lobby than in the Green Room.
Here’s three reasons why I’m ditching the green room for the lobby and why you should too:
- People are the ministry. Green rooms are largely used as retreat rooms for performers to play on their phones or hang with those they know on the team. God hasn’t called us to cliques or comfortable couches. Your accessibility is your ministry. Our ability to build relationships offstage with a congregation in a way that is genuine, honest and candid tears down the (idolatrous) walls that well-meaning people will build between themselves and those on-stage. When we are accessible to those we lead, we level the ground, put a nail in the coffin of celebrity culture and build trust that can’t necessarily be built from a platform. The greatest worship leading you will ever do won’t be on-stage with a hand on an instrument but off-stage with a hand on a shoulder.
- Your Off-Stage Engagement is Your Greatest Witness. People want to know if you are the real deal. They see you singing about Jesus, but they want to know if the truth of what you sing is manifest in your behavior. Your accessibility is your ministry and how you behave off-stage with guests, the disabled, the elderly, the socially-awkward are all opportunities to sacrifice your time (and sometimes your preferences, let’s be real) to bear witness to the love, acceptance and grace of Jesus Christ. That ain’t happening in the Green Room. Moreover, when you’re not serving on-stage, your timeliness to church, participation in worship and engagement during the sermon also reveal the integrity of your ministry. While it’s convenient to kick-back and watch the sermon from a comfortable couch in a secluded Green Room, your church needs the witness of your Bible open, pen to paper and active engagement alongside them. You’re a leader. Leaders do what they’re asking others to do — and some.
- Privilege Breeds Entitlement. Green Rooms are typically smaller rooms and by virtue of their function, exclusive. For those of us serving on-stage in visible roles we have to take extra caution to keep our hearts and minds pure. Pride, ego and self-indulging behavior prey on performers in the church. The Green Room can become a manifestation of privilege that communicates that those on-stage are different than those in the congregation. Reject that lie with every fibre of your being. It’s a snare. Celebrity culture feeds off privilege and privilege breeds entitlement. War it off by intentionally exposing yourself to normalcy and the Word of God. Romans 12:3 is a great verse for any Worship Leader to memorize, “Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you.”
Next Sunday go wander the lobby before the service, offer to hold a door open and greet people as they enter. Learn the names of those you lead, their spouses and kids. Your accessibility is your ministry.
Worship Leaders: Ditch the Green Room for the Lobby.