From the Dean

News items, published articles, and reading recommendations from Dean Timothy George

Deference over Preference

Justin Wainscott is an alumnus of Beeson Divinity School and the pastor of First Baptist Church, Jackson, TN. The following post from Paul Clark, Jr., director of worship & music ministries for Tennessee Baptist Convention, was inspired by one of Justin's prayers.

Pastor Justin Wainscott of First Baptist Church in Jackson, Tennessee is a serious student of Christian worship, a fine pastoral leader for the historic Jackson congregation, and a close personal friend. Justin is an example among, and for young evangelical pastors. I know him to be a hymn writer, a liturgist, a deep theological thinker, whose approach in ministry strikes a harmonious balance between historical sensitivity and appreciation for contextual application.

At a congregational gathering and teaching time last weekend Pastor Justin prayed these words in his prayer that began the evening, asking that the Spirit would speak into the worship life of this faith community. “Lord, may we practice deference above preference as we worship You together.” That may not be word for word, but the phrase, “deference over preference” stuck with me like glue. In multiple private conversations regarding worship issues I had heard Justin make this statement previously. We had been talking about the need for that spirit to take hold in worshiping congregations. In this setting where he called upon the Lord to grant this spirit among the people that he pastors I found it to be profoundly appropriate. In prayer form I was reminded that such a spirit would only be possible through a movement of the Holy Spirit among His people. Lord, may it be so.

Romans 12 is a rich revelation of God’s intention for our worship. From the Apostle Paul’s opening plea that indicates the core act of spiritual worship, which is to offer our bodies (whole selves) as living sacrifices, to the many verses dealing with how we treat one another, the chapter instructs in actions so needed in today’s context. I highly recommend music ministry leaders and pastors to find moments to preach, teach, and devote upon this passage. Genuine application in our gathered worship of the activities instructed in this chapter of scripture could be transforming. I think it appropriate to join Pastor Wainscott in praying the prayer for deference over preference as a direct means of combating obsessive stylistic issues that so often dominate the attention of today’s church goers. My experience has been that even when these stylistic considerations seem to have been “settled” they often lurk just under the surface, ready to erupt yet again at any opportune moment. Read the rest....

Posted by Betsy Childs at 9:59 AM
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