Thursday, August 07, 2008

The Conductor

I was driving form Savannah, Georgia to Tampa Bay Florida recently in a rented car. As I began down the highway with my wife, Debbie, I cranked up the radio. I pushed the first ‘pre-select’ button and expected to find whatever local station was assigned to it. To my surprise, the car I rented was equipped with XM Radio and suddenly a whole new world of options rushed through the radio screen. After searching many of the 300 or so stations, I settled on a classical station. The cooperation of so many instruments coming together to make amazing sounds was intoxicating. As I thought about the symphony I was hearing, I began to think about the central piece of the orchestra, the conductor. The conductor’s ability to know each instrument, what it is supposed to do and when it is supposed to do it is central for a unifying sound that can be so powerful and persuasive. As my mind drifted and danced with this wonderful music I kept thinking about the conductor, and a question kept rising in my mind. The question was simply, what is the center of the church to be? Who is the conductor of the local church? How would you answer those questions? In my experience, the center or conductor of the local church is often viewed as the Pastor. The Pastor is most often the one who hears from God, crafts the vision or mission of the local church and then calls the folks committed to that local body to work towards the goal of carrying out ‘our’ vision or mission of that church. This sounds right to us. It is all that most of us have ever experienced. But I am beginning to question if this is the way it should be. What if the spiritual directors (pastors, elders etc.) weren’t the conductor but the coaches? What if the pastors and elders were not to hear from God for the people and give them the vision to carry out but rather to help each person to discover God's vision for their own personal life and then live it out? What if the spiritual directors were viewed more as teachers of the instruments that people are gifted to play. What if the spiritual directors were to equip the musicians in their instrument and give them encouragement, permission, empowerment and ideas of how to more fully explore their instruments and all that they can do? What if the pastors and elders were to prepare and serve their friends to get ready to follow the lead of the conductor as a musical piece was learned and performed? I’ll bet the music would be beautiful. There really can only be one conductor in any orchestra and it simply cannot be the spiritual director(s) or leader(s). After all that job is suited for the only one who knows all of the instruments, musicians, music and full abilities of each one and how they fit into the music of the universe. Only Jesus can be the conductor (head) of the orchestra (church). The center of the church should be Jesus Christ, the conductor who puts all of the individual parts together to make beautiful music (just to make this blog cheesy ☺). With Jesus as the conductor and not a human being, unity will actually be realized and the tones and harmony that will be produced will be something we have yet to hear. Even though each person may have a different part or role to play with different sounds, the music will be wonderful. Some will be playing the harmony and others the melody; a masterpiece will be heard all over the world So, I am thanking God for rental cars and XM radio because that experience taught me who the conductor of the symphony of souls in the church is to be – Jesus. Do you have any thoughts about who the conductor of the local church ought to be? What did Jesus mean in Matthew 16:18 when He said, "I will build my church"? Next time I’ll (briefly) discuss the role of leaders in the church.


  1. Anonymous4:19 PM

    I love how the Lord speaks to you Ed,But even better how you listen!!

  2. Thanks Nikki for your encouragement. I'm excited about all that God is doing in your life. Together, we are making a difference in our city.

  3. Anonymous1:58 PM

    Great post. I think about these things too. I tell people that pastors really don't get to pastor. They are hired to manage, but not to pastor. We spend our time trying to manage ministries, recruit leaders, develop teams. We call that pastoring. But, my gut and I think Scripture, tells me there is another way.

    Your post reminds me of how Paul saw the church as having One Head - Jesus. It would seem that in many ways we have a decapitated Christianity these days. We have forgotten how to live with our head. Kind of like Israel seeking a King because they didn't know how to live with God as their king.

    So I ask, how do we re-learn how to live with Christ as our head? Our leader? Our conductor?

    Francis Chan once said that he felt he could build a church that would be bigger than Jesus' - a church that people would leave Jesus' for to join his. I think sometimes we assume we know how to build the church. Trouble is we get what we worked so hard for. What would something look like that only Jesus could build???

  4. Jeff,
    Thanks for the comments my friend. I think part of the answer to your question is that we need to live life more simply, submissively and selflessly. I only begin to scratch the surface when I lay down my agenda's and desires to His agenda and desires for my life. It is at that point that I begin to smell what it means to die daily. Looking forward to being with you in October.

    Oh yeah, you said, "What would something look like that only Jesus could build???" My answer would be that it would be chaordic - untamable, wild and would take on all different kinds of shapes and forms that would all be highly reproductive. Blessings.