What a great start to the 2014/2015 season of our Divisional Music & Arts Ensembles! Over the September 12-13 weekend, more than 150 Sr and Jr Soldiers from around the Texas Division descended upon Camp Hoblitzelle to take part in one of our 5 divisional bands and 2 creative arts ensembles. In addition to our youth groups (Contact, CAST, Texas Brass, Lonestar Brass, Bluebonnet Brass and Beginner Brass) we were pleased to add the Texas Divisional Band back into the mix, bringing 37 of our adult musicians and leaders together to play some great music!
So you may ask yourself...Why do we do this? Why take the time get a group from your corps ready, pack up, hop on a bus and head to camp to spend a perfectly good weekend sitting in rehearsals, when I'm sure there are plenty of other things to do? As the Divisional Music & Arts Director, I feel it's my job to ask these questions (and maybe you're thinking I don't ask them enough!). And the answer I keep coming back to can be summed up in two words....Mission and Fellowship.
A few years back, I heard a speaker at our Territorial Youth Workers Conference speak about this. I'm a little ashamed to say that I forget who the speaker was, but I clearly remember his message. He talked about how our jobs as leaders in any church capacity is to create opportunities where mission and fellowship come together. This really struck a chord with me as it relates to our programs. We tend to be pretty good at both of these, but rarely do they come together. I think we've all seen both sides of this coin. How often have you been so occupied with the programs of your corps that you feel like you're busy from the time you walk in the door until the time you leave, and you realize you've barely had a chance to say hi to people? Or the other side, have you ever been part of a group at the corps (Sunday School Class, weekly fellowship group, maybe even your music groups) where it never seems to go beyond the superficial "hang-put" phase? If we look closely, we realize that mission without fellowship produces burn-out while fellowship minus the mission produces boredom.
I believe that these monthly gatherings at camp are so very beneficial to those who take part. What a great way to stay connected to others throughout the Texas Division who are engaged in the same ministries you are. But beyond being a good opportunity to hang out, there is a dual sided mission as well. It is my job to ensure that these groups aren't just rehearsing for themselves. There are places in Texas and the world who need to hear the message of Christ, and we have a special opportunity to bring that message in our unique way. (by the way, there are some exciting possibilities in the works). But we also have a mission to disciple and encourage those within the group.
Hebrews 10:24-25 says this: And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another - and all the more as you see the Day approaching.
My hope and prayer is that you take this scripture to heart as we continue to gather together (next on October 4!), and also that you take this encouragement back to your corps. These groups do not exist to give you a break from your corps! Quite the opposite. My hope is that your involvement would inspire you, as you grow, to examine your corps life and seek how God can bring deeper meaning to all you do. It is then you will see the fruit!
I hope to see you all again in October, excited to share in this special fellowship and ready to get involved in the mission. Congratulations if you've read this far into my ramblings....you win the prize!
See you next month!