A Ministry Manifesto

Visita Papa Brasil

If you only ever share one post I write, this is the one. Because this is important.

We need you.

And yes, I mean you.

You think you aren’t good enough to join the choir. You are. You say you’re tone deaf. You’re not. We’ve known a man who actually was…and he learned to sing. (Sort of.)

We are better when there are more of us. We blend better, we carry better, we are more confident, we worship God better when you are with us, even if your voice is only so-so, even if you can’t read a note of music. I thank God for each and every one of our core members, but all of us know we are better when there are more of us.

You think you don’t have time, that ministry is a drain on your time that you can’t afford. But you will receive as much as or more than you give. Christianity was never meant to be practiced in isolation. Those who give of themselves find that the community gives back many times over.

But even if you’re not called to minister through music, you are called to minister in something else. The value of lay Eucharistic ministers and lectors is self-evident, but the basic ministry is hospitality. When you come to church, whose is the first face you see? The person who can stand at the door and smile and welcome their fellow worshipers is the person who sets the tone for the day. If a hospitality minister breaks the ice for you, it empowers you to sit in community with someone you don’t know. It enables you to reach out to the person beside you in the pew and welcome them in turn.

Visita Papa Brasil

All our gifts support each other. My husband and I can’t lead our community in sung praise when we have a toddler running around, dive bombing microphone stands and yanking on cords. Two weekends a month, we sit in the assembly with all our kids, but on our choir weekends, we depend upon the people who volunteer in the nursery. They make our ministry possible.

As Catholics, we don’t talk enough about the impact we have on each other in worship. Our tradition focuses on the vertical plane, and there’s a sense that it’s sacrilegious, too touchy-feely, too “horizontal” to acknowledge that our role is important, too.

Please don’t misunderstand me. I’m not suggesting that the music or the hospitality is the point of Mass. But we must recognize that if the liturgy is the spiritual food that sustains Christian living, then the way we interact with it–both what we give and what we receive–is part of the equation.

The Contemporary Group singers

The liturgy engages the senses because we are souls enfleshed. We experience the world through our senses and through our emotions. What we put into to church matters. What we experience there matters, too. If we sit in our invisible box, pretending it’s just “me and Jesus” (or “me and the Eucharist”), pretending we have no responsibility to and nothing to receive from those around us, we’re deliberately cutting ourselves off from a source of grace.

If we want our Church community to be a force for good in the world, we actually have to be community. Faith is not lived in a vacuum. Far too many people simply show up on Sunday, expecting the Church to check off their little box and consider their obligation to Christian living fulfilled. If you want to be a real Christian, you have to give of yourself. If we’re going to spread the Gospel, we have to spread it to people.

Hospitality Ministry

We need each other. We need you. Yes, I’m talking to you, not the person in the next cubicle, not the person who has more time or more talent. None of us actually have time for ministry. We do it because we recognize that we have gifts that can serve the community–and through it, God.

So here’s my challenge. If you aren’t committed to a ministry, call up your parish today and ask where the greatest need is–and sign up!

And if you recognize your parish in this, share this post. I never say that, because it feels bigheaded, like I think my little corner of the blogosphere is the center of the universe. But in this case, I’m willing to take the risk. I’ll make it easy. See that little “share” button at the bottom? Hover over it and see all the ways you can share it.

God is the source, the center and the end point of our worship, but that doesn’t mean He has to do all the work. If we expect to build the Kingdom on earth, we have to do something about it ourselves.

Christ has no body but yours,
No hands, no feet on earth but yours,
Yours are the eyes with which he looks
Compassion on this world,
Yours are the feet with which he walks to do good,
Yours are the hands, with which he blesses all the world.
Yours are the hands, yours are the feet,
Yours are the eyes, you are his body.
Christ has no body now but yours,
No hands, no feet on earth but yours,
Yours are the eyes with which he looks
compassion on this world.
Christ has no body now on earth but yours.

–Teresa of Avila