Can My Ministry Flourish In an Arminian Environment Even Though I Hold to Reformed Theology?
The following is an edited transcript of the audio.
Can my ministry flourish in an Arminian environment even though I hold to Reformed theology?
I don't want to encourage a pastor, whether a worship pastor or senior pastor or associate pastor, to act in a knee-jerk way about being out of sync with his church. It may have happened because he came into the church unaware of where they were. It may have happened because his theology changed after he got there.
There are different reasons why you might wind up in this situation. And once you do, what I want to say first is, Don't assume it can't happen. Don't assume flourishing can't happen. And by "flourishing" I mean that over time the people would grow with you into greater truth about the sovereignty of God. And it can happen in ways that are not dramatic.
In other words, a Reformed position mainly means, God is really big, really strong, really powerful, really knowledgeable, really wise, really great, really weighty, and he is going to be big in this service, and we're going to make a big deal out of God here. There are a lot of born-again Arminian people who like that. It's because they don't see the implications of their theology.
And if you get a congregation liking that over time—"God is great, and we're going to celebrate his magnificence and his power and his sovereignty" (just leave it undefined for the time being. Everybody believes in the sovereignty of God, one way or the other)—what happens is that when your heart begins to get shaped around a massive, big, glorious view of God, then when you get to specifics in Romans 8 and 9 or Ephesians 2, about election and whatnot, your heart is more ready for it.
So the flourishing could be that you're taking people where you know you want them to go, just because God is magnificent. And your Reformed orientation makes you keenly aware of that. Their Arminian orientation doesn't naturally make them as aware of that. And you're going to take them there. And when the whole spirit of the place changes, then the theology might grow. And that's what I mean by flourishing.
Now that might not happen, because as you begin to go there you might encounter opposition. People might say, "I'm tired of this God-centered worship. We need more horizontal, playful stuff. There needs to be some slapstick here"—though they wouldn't use those words necessarily. They want some banter. This is just too serious.
And so over time, your effort to simply make much of God in Christ would encounter opposition. And then, yes, you would probably have to find another place.
So the general point there is, Pray toward a process that is open and above board. If you are a worship leader, then you should be totally candid with your senior pastor or the pastoral team and say, "Here's where I am. Do you want me here? If you don't want me here, I should go." If they say, "We want you here, just don't push your peripheral distinctives," then you may respond, "Well, we'll make a go of it, and I'll try to design services that I think honor God. And you'll have to tell me in the long run whether you think I'm pushing my distinctives."