The Ways We Minister : Music ministry takes spiritual risks


In June 2004, Glen Soderholm made an unusual career move. He left a good job with an organization he loved for a pioneering freelance position with few guarantees.
After 13 years as the minister at St. David's, Campbellville-Nassagaweya, Ont., Soderholm resigned from his position and founded Moveable Feast Resources to help the wider church address what he sees as its key challenge for the future: the pursuit of excellence in worship.
As a singer and song-writer with three albums to his name, Soderholm has garnered kudos for his skill at weaving rich theological strands into music that is at once poetic and simple. His most recent offering, Rest (2004), explores the theme of a sabbath refuge from sadness and fatigue.
Soderholm's artistry always tends towards worship. Rooted in scripture and often honed to a pastoral point, his songs serve something larger than one man's imagination. The gift of music he so clearly possesses led Soderholm to grasp a new opportunity to meet emerging needs in the Presbyterian Church in Canada and beyond. Moveable Feast Resources is the result.
"It's about much more than simply music," explains Soderholm. "We start with the most fundamental questions when we're called in. We want to affirm and encourage what churches are doing. Then we ask how they understand who they are as the church of Christ and what their mission is. We have to get into identity issues and people's most basic understanding of who God is before we can talk about how that could send their worship in some new directions."
Moveable Feast casts a wide net. The most time is currently spent on a concert ministry in churches and elsewhere, as well as working with individual congregations to bring their worship into clearer focus. This latter project has taken off in the last six months with word spreading rapidly about the services that Soderholm offers. He has already run the gamut, from consulting with worship committees, teams, ministers and organists, to running seminars which the whole church attends. Retreat speaking, mentoring, spiritual direction, and song-writing workshops are also part of the mandate.
"There's a lot of openness to thinking creatively about worship. But people, ministers especially, are confused by all the possibilities. It's hard to figure out what's a fad and what has lasting value," said Soderholm. "All the flashy promotion around ways to market your church has been called by some, nothing less than 'ecclesiastical pornography.' I'd like to enable people to bypass the trash and help them to discover the new wineskins that suit them in amongst all the excitement and frenetic change going on these days.
"The Triune God of grace provides the response through Jesus Christ and so relieves us of a terrible burden," urges Soderholm, growing animated. "That's where we find rest. We don't have to do it ourselves; it has been done and we get to participate in it and enjoy it. A lot of our worship is in our head, it's abstract. There can be a better balance — that's worship as rest, play and work. Generally, we check four-fifths of our humanity at the door when we come to church, but there may be a different and broader way of experiencing worship. We'll have to take some risks along the way."
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