Notes taken during the 2020-08-19 Spiritual Deepening Session on Vocal Ministry

We began our worship sharing session with the question, “What brings you here today?”

Many spoke of how difficult it can be to discern the right time to speak, the message to give.  Also, when do we know if it is Spirit speaking or when is it me?

A few thought it would be nice to have more ministry, more people speaking while others were happy to have the time for quiet.  

During ministry, there can be a bodily expression.  There can also be inner guidelines.  One Friend shared a guideline he finds helpful which is “if in doubt don’t.  Ministry is not an intellectual exercise.”  

Meeting as a place of transformation; there is something that happens within the meeting for worship.  We addressed the question of whether we should limit ministry to thoughts which develop from the meeting, or whether we can bring to meeting something we have struggled with during the week.  Would this count as preparing to minister prior to meeting? Perhaps not, if we allow ourselves, during meeting, the time to develop something.

There was also the idea that we can develop the capacity to hear/listen to this inner voice, to trust it as a source of inspiration, and then it would become more clear when to minister.

Someone mentioned that the query read at the beginning of meeting gives us something to grapple with.

We also very much appreciated the opportunity at the rise of meeting during “afterwards” or “after words” to share anything bubbling up, but not quite ready for ministry.

Attendees appreciated the readings very much with particular mention of these:

“All true ministry springs from the reality of experience, and uses our gifts of heart and mind in its expression. But ministry is not the place for intellectual exercise. It comes through us, not from us. Although we interpret the Spirit it is that Spirit which will lead us to minister. The Spirit will decide which experiences are relevant and which will speak to the condition of the meeting. If you have to decide whether it is right to speak, consider that it isn’t. If your words are important the meeting will find them anyway.”

Conference: Exploring the fundamental elements of Quakerism, 1986

“Remember that to everyone is given a share of responsibility for the meeting for worship, whether that service be in silence or through the spoken word. Do not assume that vocal ministry is never to be your part. If the call to speak comes, do not let the sense of your own unworthiness, or the fear of being unable to find the right words, prevent you from being obedient to the leading of the Spirit. Ask wisdom of God that you may be sure of your guidance and be enabled humbly to discern and impart something of his glory and truth. Pray that your ministry may rise from the place of deep experience, and that you may be restrained from unnecessary and superficial words. Faithfulness and sincerity in speaking, even very briefly, may open the way to fuller ministry from others. Try to speak audibly and distinctly, with sensitivity to the needs of your fellow worshippers. Wait to be sure of the right moment for giving the message. Beware of making additions towards the end of a meeting when it was well left before.”

Advices, 1964

And thou, faithful babe, though thou stutter and stammer forth a few words in the dread of the Lord, they are accepted.”

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