creativeminI am a member of the 48days.net community, (and you should be to). In my Creative Ministry Group, we’ve been having a discussion on getting more people involved in the life of the church and in worship. Someone made a great comment about excellence. I didn’t agree with all that he said but some points were excellent. This was my response.

I have to confess something and I don’t to be argumentative here, but I cringe every single time I hear the word excellence, especially in the context of church, ministry, etc. I know this is not a popular position but it is the one I take. I have a few reasons for this. The first is simple, it smacks of the kind of elitism that excludes so many in the art field. Unless you’re a virtuoso, there’s no place for you. The problem is who defines excellence? There are many works of art in some of the greatest museums in the world that I frankly find to be less than stellar (and that’s me being really nice), yet some of the powers that be have deemed these works genius and so they hang in the finest of museums. In the same way, Bob Dylan’s singing voice would not allow him to get a solo in any high school choir and yet people the world over pay millions to hear him sing, because he has something to say. I believe excellence is bringing the very best you have to the project at hand. People who do this continually will improve. In the parable of the talents, the master parcels the talents to His servants each according to his ability and commends the faithful for working to the best of their ability.

I believe this is the key. I know what you may be thinking what about the church soloist who can’t carry a tune in a bucket? I get that, and I do believe that leadership needs to be attentive to helping people to find their way to their best gifting. I also think there is such a thing as appropriate exhibition, creating venues for people of varying ability levels, but I disagree profusely that it’s in excellence that we give God public glory. I remember one day I was worshipping in a small church setting standing next to a young man with Down Syndrome. He was lifting his voice to the Lord with power and passion that I have heard from few people. Was he a good singer? No, he would have been labeled terrible by most anyone who would have listened to voice alone, but that didn’t stop the tears that came to my eyes as I witnessed real authentic worship. The point is I think we have to be careful about insisting on excellence as defined by the world.

My own ministry is another example. I’m a speed painter and then I use those paintings to share the Gospel. My sweet spot for the average painting is about six minutes (for a two foot by four foot painting). Is that six minute painting the best painting I can do? No. It’s the best painting I can do in six minutes and while they may never hang in the Louvre, they hang in many churches as a reminder of truth God used me to bring to the congregation. Sometimes excellence is doing the best we can with what we have.

We have that a lot of places and sometimes sincerity is missing. My philosophy has always been “everybody gets to play.” From there it is up to me as a leader to mold and direct and help a person be the very best that God has for them to be.

As such, I agree with this statement wholeheartedly. “And it’s in our sweat and dedication to our gifts that we give him glory in private.” Sacrifices were always to be the best we have. The reason for that is simple. It’s the best anyone can bring.

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