Reflections of an ex-usher

It only dawned upon me heavily a few days ago that I am no longer in Team Hope and have been 'removed' as a floor manager since 22 Jan, when I served my last duty as a floor manager. It was quite a funny feeling, considering that I have not wanted the change, though the change is for the better of the ministry and my own group. No, I was not removed because I have problems. I was removed because of the inherent problem in Team Hope. You see, in Team Hope, the turnover rate is quite high and people generally move on to other ministries after about 2 years of serving in Team Hope. The result is that the senior ushers have to keep on training up new ushers and people do not rise up in Team Hope.

I remember that there was one FM meeting at Soup Spoon, when the four FMs met up and we lamented that there was no one which seem to be able to rise up as FMs and we joked that we can remain as FMs forever if this carries on. However, the problem will remain and there will not be any renewal in leadership. I also remember talking to Joyce Peh about entering worship ministry. She mentioned that it is possible to be concurrently engage in more than a few service-level ministries without compromising effectiveness. At that time, that gave me the confidence to be involved in worship ministry while remaining as a FM.

So what changed over the next few months? The emergence of potential candidates to step up as FM or potential FMs certainly helps. It means that all we have to do was to train up these new leaders to take over our team. For me wise, the change in priorities for me was also one factor. It was not that I changed my priorities, but it would have been more effective for me to concentrate on my service in worship ministry and my pastoral duties, especially when Joyce wanted me to focus more on male discipleship in the unit. As it was a fact that as long as I remain in Team Hope, or as long as any of the FMs remain, people will not rise up. There was this incident last Sat. The ushers came to ask me about the floor plan for MSC. I thought to myself, 'good grief, it felt as if I had not left' but then there still remains a lot of room for these new FMs to navigate around to find their way around.

Over the past four years of serving in Team Hope, I have to admit first of all that serving as an usher helped me to learn how to worship. This is not just a patronising comment. I remember listening to a lot of young ushers, including some of the potential FMs whom we have earmarked, that the one disturbing thing they found serving as an usher is that they cannot concentrate on the PnW during service. This is one peculiar observation, because I can clearly remember my first ushering experience. It was a gender-focused service (male specific) and all the ushers are male. I remember that Cedric was the floor manager. One thing that I could never forget was the PnW time that service. The sight of hundreds of people raising their hands to worship God, I can never forget. It was this priceless sight that made me felt that ushering was worth it, cos only as an usher you can witness such sight. Ask ushers who have ushered in Nexus, Suntec Convention Centre etc. My point is that as an usher, our worship to God is that of our service and our lives, and not so much on how much we can concentrate during the PnW time.

Of course, there were times that tempted me to quit. I remember the period in mid 2007. I had to juggle between rising up as a CL and a TL in Team Hope. On top of that, I was like serving once every two weeks. Those were the days when I felt like my passion for ushering was diminishing. I dun know how I went through that period. Perhaps it was God who brought me through. That was also the period of time when I saw a lot of my uni friends leaving ushering because they were rising up as CLs. But surviving that experience has taught me one thing, that you can serve as a CL and as an usher concurrently without compromising your effectiveness, assuming you have good core teams to support. Even if you dun have, I wonder does it warrant pastoral leaders to take off their people from ushering on the pretext that they need the people to take care of their groups? There is no direct answer to this, but at least I know from my own case, and the case from my fellow FMs, that this is possible.

Rising up to be a FM has also taught me to be more flexible and adaptable as well as being resourceful. Certainly, it showed me bits and pieces on how a service is being planned and organised. It also made me an 'expert' in logistic, since I was always handling these stuff as a FM/service personnel. I remember that there were times when I was not serving, but the ushers had difficulties packing their stuff after service. And I stepped in. I thought to myself again... these fellows need to learn. Of course there are times when we have to improvise our floor plan accordingly. My team always seems to be the one serving in new venues and as such, we always experimented with different things, mainly floor plans and work out along the way on how best to seat the congregation. It was never easy but at least we are not a bit more settled at MSC and there was no need to keep on moving things around and changing things like what happened in HSR.

Then of course the question that needs to be posed to every Team Hope members is this, 'what are you bringing out from your stint in Team Hope?' Or in fact, this question applies to all the ministries we are serving.

As I end my stint in Team Hope, I told the rest who are there that I will always be available to serve at an ad hoc basis (though this is not going to happen, we all know that). The baton is now in the process of being passed and it's about time.

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