Ministry and All That Jazz

Pastor Dave's Newsletter Article for June, 2012

This past month the people of Saint Peter were treated to a wonderful evening of music. It was “Swingtime in the Rockies” with Dez Rubano and Friends, including Saint Peter members Dez Rubano (band leader, vocals and percussion) and Dave McGaw (sax and flute). The event took place at the new Lone Tree Arts Center, where Saint Peter member Lisa Peterson is the Executive Director. Dez assembled an eight-piece band for the show; to a one of them, very fine musicians.

I have always been in awe of Jazz musicians. I love their ability to improvise on a tune. It appears to be absolutely effortless. They’ll start out with a familiar melody, and then travel far and wide through the course of a solo, until they return to the core melody just in the nick of time, at the very end.

What gives them the capacity to do this, is that they are grounded in the fundamentals. Their familiarity with chord progressions and scales and the standard playlist of jazz favorites is such that they no longer have to think consciously about what they do. They are able to play, as we say, “from the heart.” Someone once told me that it takes approximately 10,000 hours of practice (that’s about five years at forty hours a week) to achieve that level of excellence. The point is: their grounding in the basics of jazz frees them up to be bold and creative during the course of a song.

We Christians could learn a thing or two from good jazz musicians.

What if we were equally grounded in the basics of our faith? For instance: here at Saint Peter, what if we knew the fundamental values of our congregation so well, that we no longer had to think consciously about how to involve them in the ministry we share? What if we just did it “from the heart?”

I would like to move us in that direction, and to that end I am going to spend the next half year or so working to deepen our understanding of and our commitment to the fundamental values of our congregation. In this column, and in the time that I spend with you, we will reflect on the stated purpose of this congregation, and how we are trying to go about ministry.

Themes for the coming months will include:

  • We are welcomed into God’s Love; and sent into God’s world.
  • We are a mission driven congregation.
  • We committed to “Permission Giving” in all that we do.
  • Our supporters are involved on a “Gifts Based” basis.
  • We are prayer-centered.
  • Our lives revolve around discipleship.

I look forward to sharing with you what I have discovered about these fundamental commitments of our congregation. I hope you will work at giving them a place at the center of your living. And I know that as you do, it will free you up to be bold and creative for Christ.

God’s peace to you all,

David J. Risendal, Pastor