Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Sign On the Dotted Line?

This post originally appeared as my response to a blog topic posted by my friend Lakita Humber (Paneh Praise Dance & Mime Ministry) as part of Dance Ministry Ethics week:

TOPIC: Contracted Ministry

Here is the original link if you want to check out the original post and several responses:

I have several areas that I would like to address, according to the Word of God:

1- In all your getting, get understanding (Proverbs 4:7).

Why a “contract?” Isn’t the purpose of a contract to have legal recourse?

Contract: In law, a contract is a binding legal agreement that is enforceable in a court of law. That is to say, a contract is an exchange of promises for the breach of which the law will provide a remedy. (Source: Wikipedia)

We understand the importance of having an agreement (understanding) in writing, but formulating a contract can become an area of contention. We may want to justify dance ministry as our occupation, but at this point, we need to determine if preaching and dancing the Gospel is a “job” to us or a commission from the Lord.

Proverbs 25:8
Do not go hastily to court; For what will you do in the end, When your neighbor has put you to shame?

James 2:6
But you have dishonored the poor man. Do not the rich oppress you and drag you into the courts?

Matthew 5:40
If anyone wants to sue you and take away your tunic, let him have your cloak also.

1 Corinthians 6:1
[Do Not Sue the Brethren] Dare any of you, having a matter against another, go to law before the unrighteous, and not before the saints?

***Personally, I receive a letter of invitation to know what to expect. Usually, these items are provided, but if not, I move on and it is forgiven; however, I may hesitate to deal with that ministry in the future.

2- What exactly are we charging for?

Are we charging for the Gospel? Are we charging for our time? Are we charging for our experience? We should be led by the Word and by the Lord. Let’s look at Paul’s take on this:

1 Corinthians 9:18
What is my reward then? That when I preach the gospel, I may present the gospel of Christ without charge, that I may not abuse my authority in the gospel.

2 Corinthians 11:7

Did I commit sin in humbling myself that you might be exalted, because I preached the gospel of God to you free of charge?

What context are we being asked to come in? Could Paul have charged? Certainly, but to keep himself pure (cannot serve God and mammon), he opted not to. How many of us have seen ministries corrupted by the love of money?

I too travel frequently and am blessed to receive accommodations, travel and love offerings. I am also blessed when I do not receive travel, lodging, or finances. The reward will be awaiting me in eternity. I am not suffering lack and rejoice in the many testimonies of the people who the Lord sends me to serve.

I believe that the difference is being aware of the circumstances up front. I personally do not ever want money to be a factor in my acceptance of an assignment. There are conferences that I have attended in which I have paid for the entire trip and received no money. Personally, the Lord has not instructed me to charge for ministry, but gave me a way to return with additional income through a vendor table for dance ministry goods. If I feel that a conference host is taking advantage of instructors, it is my choice whether or not I will continue to participate.


Some may say, “This is what I do full time.”

***Food for thought: If we are not making enough money doing ministry, then should we look for a job (or business) to support our living expenses?

We should all be in full-time ministry as a life calling. Agreed, if we labor in the Gospel, we should live from it. The issue is that many of us have not reached the point where we are solely laboring in the Word to meet our financial needs. (Yes, I do “this” full-time, but the Lord opened the door for me to be able to do this exclusively— in His timing).

***More Food for Thought: Are we expecting our needs to be met or our wants too?

For example, I am blessed to run a praise dance company and I pay my technique instructor to show up on time twice per week and teach a progressive modern dance curriculum. She is not paid to show up and dance with us at ministry outings. She is not paid to attend Word classes. I am asking her to dedicate her time on a regular basis and be available to cover for me when I am out of town. But guess what the blessing is? She allows me to pay her whatever the Lord placed on my heart. Because I consulted Him, she is paid standard scale for dance instructors. (I also believe that by the same measure we sow, we reap. When we take care of people, God will take care of us).

It is up to us to treat one another well. Should we make demands for our service? Have we reached a level where we must be comfortable and happy to minister the Word of God? (WOW- How did Paul do it from jail?) Again, let the Word and the Holy Spirit guide. A few parting Scriptures for thought:

1 Timothy 5:17
[Honor the Elders] Let the elders who rule well be counted worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in the word and doctrine.

1 Thessalonians 2:8-9

“So, affectionately longing for you, we were well pleased to impart to you not only the gospel of God, but also our own lives, because you had become dear to us. For you remember, brethren, our labor and toil; for laboring night and day, that we might not be a burden to any of you, we preached to you the gospel of God.”

Acts 20:34-35
“Yes, you yourselves know that these hands have provided for my necessities, and for those who were with me. I have shown you in every way, by laboring like this, that you must support the weak. And remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’”

1 Corinthians 9:13-15
“Do you not know that those who minister the holy things eat of the things of the temple, and those who serve at the altar partake of the offerings of the altar? Even so the Lord has commanded that those who preach the gospel should live from the gospel. But I have used none of these things, nor have I written these things that it should be done so to me; for it would be better for me to die than that anyone should make my boasting void.”

Luke 10:3-12
“Go your way; behold, I send you out as lambs among wolves. Carry neither money bag, knapsack, nor sandals; and greet no one along the road. But whatever house you enter, first say, ‘Peace to this house.’ And if a son of peace is there, your peace will rest on it; if not, it will return to you. And remain in the same house, eating and drinking such things as they give, for the laborer is worthy of his wages. Do not go from house to house. Whatever city you enter, and they receive you, eat such things as are set before you. And heal the sick there, and say to them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.’ But whatever city you enter, and they do not receive you, go out into its streets and say, ‘The very dust of your city which clings to us we wipe off against you. Nevertheless know this, that the kingdom of God has come near you.’ But I say to you that it will be more tolerable in that Day for Sodom than for that city.

Let’s not only preach the Word, but live it!

All Scriptures quoted from the New King James Version.

His Servant,
Rekesha Pittman

Friday, October 16, 2009

Idol Eyes

When we have a voice that influences people, we must prayerfully guard what we say. People are often looking for a leader, mentor, or other inspiration to get closer to the goal. In the dance ministry realm, the need for personal leadership seems to have taken on a life of its own...

For some reason, a growing population of dancers do not feel as though their own Pastors or churches are equipped enough to provide them with needed training. In many senses, this analysis may hold some truth, but we must not allow pride to enter in. God is raising up "specialists" who are studied in the worship arts and can provide some much-needed guidance in many areas. This does not give us the right to disregard the leadership that He has already provided.

The hidden danger lies in the fact that there is a growing belief of inferiority and a need to be validated by others in movement ministry. How do I know this? I look at the growing advertisements for ministry training and licensing/ordination programs, dance competitions that seek to highlight the "best" in the praise dance genre, churches clamoring for dance ministry presence even when it is clear that the people are not ready, and the explosion of groups hosting dance conferences! Some would argue that this is a good thing, but it is not benefitting the Kingdom if the motive behind it is wrong. Thus, many sheep are being wounded and misled.

We must fix our eyes on the Lord. When we trust Him to provide us with relationships that will develop our gifts and talents, we can testify to the fruitfulness of it. What God has joined together should not be tampered with by man.

If we are not watchful, we can begin to idolize the dance ministers that we feel have "made it" in some way. This includes published authors, conference hosts and facilitators, television personalities, dance ministry leaders, marketplace ministers, and more. The danger in pursuing relationships with others based on a need for personal validation is that we can develop selfish reasons for wanting to connect with them.

If we are led by our emotions, we may discover ourselves bending over backwards to accommodate outrageous requests, develop man-pleasing habits in serving, or praising our "idols" more than we give glory to God. We cannot simply blame those who abuse the mentor-mentee relationship. As it is often said: "It takes two..."

For those of us who are in leadership, we must not allow ourselves to revel in the praise, gifts, accolades, or status that comes with having influence in ministry. Remaining humble before the Lord will compel us to point others to Him. Allowing for even a moment of "look at me," can be our downfall.

If we are called to mentor, remember that it is the image of Christ that people are being transformed into. Those called to lead must not do so with dollar signs in our eyes. On both sides of the fence, keeping Jesus as our focus will combat the idolization of creation. When we longingly look for a "savior" to lead us to life in the movement ministry, we may find ourselves with "idol eyes."

New King James Bible Version

1 Samuel 16:7
But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not look at his appearance or at his physical stature, because I have refused him. For the LORD does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.”

Zechariah 10:2
For the idols speak delusion; the diviners envision lies, and tell false dreams; they comfort in vain. Therefore the people wend their way like sheep; they are in trouble because there is no shepherd.

Isaiah 31:1
[The Folly of Not Trusting God] Woe to those who go down to Egypt for help, and rely on horses, who trust in chariots because they are many, and in horsemen because they are very strong, but who do not look to the Holy One of Israel, nor seek the LORD!

Monday, October 5, 2009

Detox... If... I...

We must admit, if we allow people and circumstances to hinder us, we will become toxic in ministry. The ministry of movement has made great strides in the areas of education, technical training, and greater inclusion in the general church assembly. With the increased opportunity that has presented itself, a very poisonous undercurrent can displace us if we are not watchful.

Opportunism is running rampant. Dancers are clamoring for status and relativity through academic accomplishments, endorsements, and busy travel schedules. While we may celebrate the strides that we have gained in these areas, we must remain humble in order to not let these elements be the driving force behind what we do.

Many have become mercenary in the pursuit of money over ministry in dance. Are people really determining what engagements they will accept based on paychecks, upscale accommodations and networking opportunities? The sad, but true answer is, "Yes." Though a servant is worthy of his wages, the great commission was never based on comfort. Ask Paul...

Am I more anointed than you because I have danced longer? Are you more qualified than me because you have a title? Is belonging to an organization the determining factor for us to be able to minister the Gospel worldwide through movement? Lord, deliver us from this yoke of bondage we have created for ourselves!

If you are in the ministry of movement (or a supporter), and sense that there must be more to this...

If you are sick and tired of the politics that have developed in the dance ministry realm...

If you are looking for a solution to the toxic state of many worship arts ministries today...

It's time to detoxify!

Enlist yourself as a patient at DANCE MINISTRY DETOX East- January 8th-9th in Arlington, VA.

Whom the Son sets free is free indeed!

January 8th - 9th
NRECA Conference Center - Arlington, VA
Host: Rekesha Pittman, Rain Rein Reign Ministries

New King James Version

Jeremiah 8:22
Is there no balm in Gilead,
Is there no physician there?
Why then is there no recovery
For the health of the daughter of my people?

Acts 8:23
For I see that you are poisoned by bitterness and bound by iniquity.