Meeting a (Musical) Need in the Church
Posted by Laura Rendall | Published August 15, 2016
Tom and Kelsie Olsen recently joined Yuma church as part of a strategic move initiated by their church cluster's leadership team. One of the first things that Tom noticed when they got there was the lack of quality music. Yuma Church’s music time mainly consisted of singing to worship videos on YouTube, and without live music, it felt like something was missing. Tom had played the guitar in high school, but hadn't picked it up much in recent years. He knew, though, that if he applied himself, he could get the skill back. In that moment he saw a need in his church that he had the ability to fill and he decided to fill it.
It would have been easy for Tom to give re-learning the guitar a mediocre effort and to be content with just being “good enough.” But instead he has thrown himself into it. Every week he practices hard, thinks critically about what he can do to improve, and calculates how he can best use his skill to build up his church. Curtis Spence, a leader at Yuma Church, explains, "Tom could have just said 'I’ll pick up this guitar because it would help to have someone playing music' But he is really running with it, in that he wants us to see our church grow because of it.”
When asked why he has poured so much effort into to using his skill, Tom explained that he has been focusing on Romans 12:3-8: "The main idea in that passage is that whatever role you are doing, do it the best you can. Each ability is something God has given you, so you should use all of it and not step it down at all. If I’m going to fill this music void at Yuma, I want to do it as well as I can and make it as good as it can be." He also sees developing his ability as a process, and isn't concerned about being perfect right away. “I know that my guitar playing is at a certain point and that I still have a ways to go in fully developing my skill. But I’m not afraid to bring it to church now even if sometimes it's going to crash terribly.”
Tom's use of his musical abilities has also served to demonstrate how his church can continually grow and develop in their faith and service to one another. "When Yuma Church first started two years ago we felt like we were in stabilizing mode,” Curtis says. “We just needed to get people to a basic level of establishment.” The potential problem he perceived, though, was that once people got to that basic level their development would stop, and they might be content to stay at that basic level. “One of the biggest things that will help us to not plateau is if each of us seeks to discover and use our gifts to their fullest extent in a way that keeps our church moving forward.” Tom’s use of his musical abilities illustrates that trajectory of growth: "The way Tom has taken off with pursuing his musical ability has served as an encouragement to the rest of our church to be thinking of how we might apply our gifts with the same strength," Curtis says.
Tom has been an excellent example to Yuma Church of someone wholeheartedly striving to use a specific gift set. Tom saw a hole in his church that he had the unique gifting to fill, and decided to fill it the very best that he could.
"If Tom continues to contribute all his abilities with this same passion he has contributed his musical skill, not only will God continue to use him, but he will be able to have satisfaction in life that cannot be met any other way,” Curtis says. “He will feel himself really fit within the church because he will be doing the good works that God made him specifically to do. And that’s something that is true for all of us."