Messy Faith,  Personal and Spiritual Ramblings,  Recovering Perfectionist

There are no “entry-level positions” with God

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This post is part 22 in a blog series that I have entitled “the wilderness between legalism and grace,” in which I share how I came to realize that I had an incorrect view of God and self and how I became free of the system of legalism whereby I was trying to earn God’s favor. You can view all of the posts in the series here on the series landing page.


We joined the church early in 2012. We were new members, but eager to get involved.

I immediately joined the choir, and shortly thereafter I let the music director know that I was available to serve in other capacities in the music ministry. Special music, offertories, and accompanying.

Several weeks, if not a few months, went by.

This wasn’t a big church with hundreds of people in already in place and positions filled. It was a very small congregation and there was definitely room to get involved, and I was willing, but no one had approached me since I had offered to serve.

Finally, I got a bit impatient and again went to the music director letting him know that I desired to serve in music capacities.

He said something along these lines, paraphrased, except for the section in quotations:

I remember you coming to me before, we just want to give it a little bit more time. “Choir is more of an entry-level position,” but we try to be very careful about who goes up behind the pulpit to sing specials and such…to make sure their life lines up with what the church teaches.

there are no "entry-level positions" with God {the wilderness between #legalism and #grace part 22}

I was honestly shocked. I had heard about “protecting the integrity of the pulpit” before in other congregations, but never before had I heard the term “entry level position” in terms to serving in the church.

This did several things to my psyche:

1. It made me feel like I was on probation – like my every move was being watched to see if I was “good enough” to serve. Being a member of the congregation wasn’t good enough. While I was in church I felt like I had feign super-spiritual posture and attention in the services. I wondered if skipping church services would knock me out of the running. I was worried anytime I ran out to the store in pants, nervous that I might bump into someone who would report me. And I was sure glad that I hadn’t added anyone from my new church to my Facebook page! Sheesh that might REALLY keep me from serving.

2. It made me feel like my value as a “faithful” member of the choir was now diminished, or less important. I mean it’s just an “entry-level position.” A bottom-of-the-totem-pole person. A grunt worker. A private. Someone who hasn’t “worked their way up the ladder yet.” It sort of took the heart right out of the little bit I was doing in the church to serve.

Eventually, I “passed,” and the music director came back and asked me to sing and play, after an audition, of course. He never used the word, but I had to sing and play something for him before I was given the “green light” to serve in that capacity. There was also a phone call where he reaffirmed that I make sure my life outside of church matched what the church taught.

This whole situation stood in stark contrast to something that I had experienced a few months prior at PWOC. At my very first PWOC kickoff meeting in the fall of 2011, they mentioned positions where they needed help – music team being one of them. I approached the contact-person after the session and told her I was interested. Her response? “Show up Tuesday at 10am here in the chapel – that’s when we practice!”

Just a few months later I was filling in as a substitute worship leader for the entire installation. The following semester when the current leader had to move away, I took over in her place.

there are no "entry-level positions" with God {the wilderness between #legalism and #grace part 22}

There were no background checks, no trial periods, no waiting-and-seeing.

I was willing to serve and they put me to work, no questions asked. 

I know that church is different from a worship-and-Bible-study-group. I know there are issues like church membership to deal with. I believe that pastors have the right (if not even the responsibility) to not let every person that walks through the door up on stage to perform who-knows-what without those people demonstrating a relationship with Christ. (I believe that this is one of the functions of church membership.)

But should protecting our pulpits be more important than letting our own people serve? Should we assign levels to certain positions of service in the church, making some more honorable (or more worthy of protection) than another? Should we put our people under a microscope before we give them a chance to get involved?

I don’t seeing trial periods or “entry level positions” in the Bible. I’m sorry, I just don’t.

I see a harlot being used to save some spies and getting a chance to be in the lineage of Christ.

I see Jesus calling uncouth, naked fishermen and tax collectors and saying “follow me.” I see Jesus putting them to work, immediately – healing, preaching, and working for Christ.

I see a murderer and church persecutor becoming one of the greatest missionaries (and pen-author of half of the New Testament) – called by Jesus himself.

Had Rahab, Matthew, Peter or Paul been in that Kentucky church today, I doubt they would have been given a chance to ever get behind that pulpit.

What ever happened to “Everyone is equal at the foot of the cross”?

I believe that every person who is willing to serve God should be given an equal chance and equal honor. The choir member, the pastor, the nursery worker, the janitor, the sound guy, the soloist, the Sunday school teacher:

All equal-level positions in God’s eyes.

Remember this?

But now there are many members, yet but one body.

And the eye cannot say unto the hand, “I have no need of thee”; nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.”

Nay, much more those members of the body which seem to be more feeble are necessary.

And those members of the body which we think to be less honorable, upon these we bestow more abundant honor; and our uncomely parts have more abundant comeliness.

For our comely parts have no need, but God hath tempered the body together, having given more abundant honor to that part which lacked,

that there should be no schism in the body, but that the members should have the same care one for another.

Legalistic “Fundamental” Christianity gets so obsessed with this pristine perfect picture of what a “good Christian” should look like. They are “beautiful people,” feeling like they are entitled to more honor because they are “closer to God” or “living more holy.” They guard their pulpits so that only the best of the best can dare stand behind to bring truth or encouragement to the body.

And we wonder why more people aren’t comfortable in church… 

Christians, pastors, music leaders: this shouldn’t be.

Let’s start caring more for our people than our pristinely protected pulpits. Because there are no “entry-level” positions in God’s eyes. There are no ladders to climb to make us more important than another Christian. We are all depraved sinners who need God’s grace. The only goodness you have doesn’t come from you, it comes from the righteousness of God that’s been imparted to you.

That should make you feel humbled, not entitled. 

And that should make you want to extend the grace you’ve been given to others, instead of looking down on them, waiting for them to measure up to your precious “standards.”

Discussion time! Have you ever heard the phrase “entry-level” used to describe a position of service in the church? Do you think that there is too much focus on “protecting the pulpit” and not enough focus on reaching people? Have you ever been told you weren’t “good enough” to serve in a certain capacity? I’d love to hear your thoughts! 


To view all the posts in this blog series, visit the landing page.

Next post, part 23: “Sitting on the premises” – sometimes, it’s okay not to serve


  • Larissa

    I think it’s a tricky thing – the balance of allowing everyone to serve but not letting an person who walks in one week to do anything in the church. For things like children’s ministry, I’m all for getting to know a person better before allowing them to help (purely for the safety of children, because sadly there is too much abuse around). I think there needs to be a time of getting to know someone before allowing them to preach (I think pastors have a big responsibilty about who they let teach their congregation, since the Bible traces that those who teach will be subjected to a higher level of responsibility). But all that being said, I’m not a fan of the term “entry level positions”… I don’t know what the correct balance is, but it’s somewhere between “entry level positions” and “all positions available straight away”..

    • Aprille

      Very well said – there definitely is a balance. This is why I think church membership is a good thing. I don’t mind having to be an official member of the congregation to serve in areas like music or nursery, because that way at least the church knows that my faith aligns with what the church teaches enough to attach myself to the congregation. But having to go through an even longer waiting period after I’m already a member to do certain things? I don’t see basis for that in the Bible.

      Nursery and children’s ministries are a little bit different in my opinion because of the prevalence of sexual abuse. I don’t mind at all having to fill out a background check for that because it helps to keep our children (and mine) safer. I think that’s smart – sad that it has to be this way – but, it is what it is. That’s not a matter of being “good enough” to serve God, that’s a matter of making sure you that we don’t have sexual predators posing as good Christians in order to get their hands on our kids, and I think that’s different than what I’m addressing in this post.

      Thanks for bringing that up though – I’m glad to have that disclaimer even in the comments. 🙂

      • Larissa

        Good point about church membership. I’ve never attended a church that had an official membership “status” (for lack of a better word). You’re right, if you’ve proved your beliefs through membership, asking for more doesn’t seem right at all.

        And I didn’t think you were addressing the child safety issue, it was just one example that popped into my head 🙂

  • tonycutty

    Ehhh… I bet you thought like ‘here we go again’ and had to prove once more who you were before being allowed to use your God given ministry. I’m in a similar position right now and it’s really disconcerting, isn’t it?

  • Sarah

    I have always had to pray for our Music Minister because it is a hard balance that is judged one-sided here. You mentioned in contrast to the offending pastor that your other church invited you right in to participate… but they invited you right in to a GROUP and not a solo. Once you participated for a few months, they knew they could trust you with it.
    Be careful, sister. If I had to view what this Pastor said as “entry-level,” I know exactly what he means. Participating in a group is one thing, but turning the pulpit or the preaching or the message in song over to one person just can’t be wisely done without some vetting. My sister attended a church that had someone get up and ramble about politics for 10 minutes, destroying the worship time. She wasn’t vetted – just “let me have my way” and they did and the church suffered for it.
    And I have a friend who demands that “I MUST BE ALLOWED TO DO WHAT I WANT OR YOU’RE A BAD CHURCH” in the service but has a reputation for sin. We are helping her through things, but sometimes a church needs to get to know you before handing you the main microphone to have you exaust your thoughts for all to see.
    Your attitude reflects a demanding “I need my way or the church isn’t loving me” idea and I just know that’s now how God wants you participating in His church.
    Pray for our pastors! They are judged. They are monitored. Their every word is graded and rehashed and blogged about and condemned. And they are not perfect. Give them a break and participate graciously, not with a chip on your shoulder.
    God bless – I’m sure you can grow through this.

  • Misa

    It is interesting how, for you, church = God.

    It is interesting that you are still in that church.

    It is interesting how the question that you didn’t ask (yourself, in the first place) is:
    – Should I stay in this church ?
    – Should I be a part of this religion ?
    – Should I be a part of any religion ?
    – Does this church really have some (secret) (invisible) connection with God ?
    – …
    – …
    – lol

    • Aprille

      No. Church does not equal God. Church is one way that I facilitate connection with God and edification through interaction with other believers and corporate worship.

  • Rachel Kitelinger

    Yes. In my old IFB Church, I can remember the choir director’s wife letting me know that I had risen to the level of “Sunday Morning Special music” as opposed to those who could only sing in groups or on Sunday evening. I remember being flattered, but also feeling something in my spirit that said this wasn’t right. My husband and I also left the IFB after 40 plus years and much struggle with man-made guilt. That yoke of legalistic bondage is tough to leave behind.

  • Jessie

    hi Aprille! just thanking you for all the dedication you’ve put into writing this blog series. it’s been a joy to read! I’m coming out of legalism, not IFB, but in general…legalistic tendencies and mindsets can be hard to break. Anyway, the church can help people by not having these “testing grounds” for trial periods of service. I began on a worship team, so excited to play piano and be apart of the church, and they explained that they’d see how the first 2 months go. I was practicing as much as they asked me to, but they asked if there’s anyway I could increase practice after a few rehearsals (I guess I wasn’t ‘as good’ as they wanted). I told them, no I was working fulltime and going to school, sorry but that’s the best I can offer. They said sorry it’s not going to work out if you can’t fulfill more practice time. So, that’s the hardest part of “entry-level” thinking – it doesn’t work…unless it’s in THEIR favor, which usually makes you exhausted and strungout.

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