the issue of "covering" - Printable Version

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the issue of "covering" - HelenaZF - 10-12-2006

Covering is a word used to describe being under authority. Accountable to a spiritual leader, like a pastor, and also protected by that "covering" or spiritual authority.

Do you have it? Do you think you need it? Do you feel God is your covering and you don't need any other? Do you have it in your personal life but not your ministry? Both? Neither? What does it mean to you?

Thought it would be interesting to compare some notes on this issue.

It seems Dean and I searched for years for an appropriate covering situation for our ministry, ZionFire. We had it in various positions under various leadership and sometimes none, so we have some basis for comparison. We would be glad to share our experiences and resulting conclusions about it with anyone interested.

the issue of "covering" - flaglady - 10-13-2006

Never heard the term before but I instantly knew what it meant. Funny that!

I yearn for such a thing - to me it would mean guidance, approval and encouragement from the leadership - very important issues if you want to walk in obedience to the leadership, which I do - oh so much.

It causes doubt and insecurity to threaten one's walk with God. You know that what you have you're receiving from God yet you get no confirmation from the leadership - what does this say to you? You begin to doubt that you are hearing is true, that your heart is in the right place, that you have truly subjugated your will tyo the Father. You pull back on your expressions and end up doing half a job on your worship.

I had an experience a last year when I had a victory by praising God through a nasty experience when my car was stolen by thieves who came into my house whilst I was asleep on the sofa. God placed it in my heart to keep praising and worshipping the moment it happened and victory was mine so quickly it made my head spin!

So naturally I wanted to share my testimony with the church. To get the impact of what had happened it was, of course, necessary to describe the events preceding. I sent my testimony to the Pastor in an email and th4e following Sunday asked if I was to be given time to share.

"Yes" I was told, "but you can leave out all that stuff about having the car stolen. Just say you had a lovely day praising God!" I was so flabberghasted! I tried to do as I was told but, of course, there was very little point to the testimony and it rather fell flat.

A similar thing happened when I was doing the workshop at the WearAlive festival last June. I spent almost two months planning the talk specifically with a mixed audience in mind but minutes before I was due to start the organiser came to me and ordered me not to mention anything about Spiritual warfare because there would be a lot of unsaved people present and she didn't want them to be frightened away!

Yes, covering = teaching, counsel, guidance, instruction, confirmation, support, encouragement, affirmation, verification to say the least!

the issue of "covering" - Dave - 10-13-2006

Important point, Helena.

I would say it definitely is needed. Many very serious problems (not just in dance ministry) have resulted from people not having any effective covering. (A group of "yes men" who always agree completely with you is not in that category).

Personally, I am accountable to the leadership of my local church, but I wouldn't really regard them as covering my dance ministry. Instead, I am in relationships of mutually accountability with a number of other dance leaders. I'm also a long-standing CDF member (and committee member) and I regard that as a covering.

There are undoubtedly difficulties in getting covering for dance ministry activities that are not a local church group.

the issue of "covering" - HelenaZF - 10-13-2006

FL, I can hardly believe that pastor only let you share part of that testimony. Very puzzling.

<QUOTE author="Flaglady">
Flaglady Wrote:I yearn for such a thing - to me it would mean guidance, approval and encouragement from the leadership -....

I would just add to that list "protection". Both in the spiritual sense and the natural course of things. How wonderful to have leadership that understands your calling and the scope of it, makes a place for it, and also prays for and shares wisdom with you. And then steps in when the attacks come (because they always do.) To me, that is the ideal.

I think many people are in your situation, Dave. They are firmly established in a church fellowship somewhere, but the church might have little to say about or may not even understand the ministry that they are called to do outside that particular body.

I agree with Dave, in that personal covering and ministry covering can actually be two different things. It's something we've struggled with over the years as we've tried to keep ZionFire in right relationship in the kingdom. It would seem logical that if you are covered and accountable to a spiritual authority on an individual basis that it could transfer to your ministry, but it is not necessarily so. Especially when your ministry starts to include others and takes you to events and places beyond the scope of your leadership. This seems to be a situation where we are tempted to form "boards"...however, in our experience, that is not always the wisest way to pursue covering.

I'm not sure, and we can certainly discuss the ups and downs of this, that an organization like CDF (Christian Dance Fellowship) really can provide "covering" per se, as it is an association more than a spiritual oversight organization. Possibly if one had a mentor within that organization who was solidly submitted to his own spiritual authority, and there was an actual accountability factor in the relationship, it might be considered a covering....but I'm not sure about that.

the issue of "covering" - flaglady - 10-15-2006

You state the problem very well, Helena. And thanks for adding that all important item I missed from the list.

the issue of "covering" - DeanZF - 10-15-2006

On the way home from church today, Helena and I talked almost the whole way home about this discussion and its ramifications for artists and other ministries within the context of a congregation and beyond.

On the Worship Discussion List that Moe & I are part of (for how many years now, Moe??), there is a very interesting discussion about similar issues. How do I do the things I'm genuinely called of God to do when this congregation doesn't do those things, when the leadership of the church disapproves of the sort of ministry into which I'm called, or where the leadership has no vision or understanding of just what it is that God has deposited in me.

The critical question for me becomes, just what is covering, anyhow? That's a hard question to ask, and a hard concept to properly define, I think. As with so many things, it could certainly be viewed differently by different people and by different organizations. What does it mean to you?

For me, covering is more than a mere title. As visual arts ministers, we are often asked, "Who is your pastor?" or "Who is your covering?" What do those folks really want to know? They want to know if we:<LIST> </LIST>and maybe more!

Those asking want to know if we are legitimate or illegitimate children of the Kingdom, if we are productive or if we are flaky, if we are givers or if we are takers. You can put a whole bunch of different phrases in there and still have the gist, I think.

For me, this comes down to covering. We've had all sorts of covering relationships over the nearly 18 years we've been doing this. Pastors who have imposed new rules every week, pastors who have given us a totally free reign (trusted us and what we did in his space), pastors who gave titular cover but who wanted to responsibility in the relationship, pastors who loved and honored us publically and privately, some pastoral staffers who publically dishonored us and the other worship arts ministers from the pulpit! We've had those who were willing to take an active role, others who would not, those who really did understand what we do, others who liked it but did not have a clue!

I've shared on this site about the great worship team retreat that we had with a man who really, really has a firm grip on the pastoral needs (read: COVERING!) of the local worship teams, be they musical, movement, environment, sound, whatever artistic or semi-artistic expression or support of the expressive ministries. He was really good. He talked in terms of true sheep-type shepherds (STS) and related that to us people-type sheep of the worshipping arts persuasion. He got into really personal areas and related that an STS, the responsibility was to be so intimately acquainted with his charges that an STS could tell by the way a sheep walked or moved that something was wrong. He talked about the STS as one who regularly touched each sheep. Mind you, not just patted the sheepy on its head out of affection, but regularly ran his fingers through the wool down to the scalp to see if there were scabs, bugs, or growths that would affect the health and life of that sheepy. Translated to the people shepherd, that means knowing what regular behaviors and responses are, knowing strengths and weaknesses, knowing what happy looks like, what joyous looks like, what sad, wounded, injured looks like and being willing to wade in.

THAT's part of covering. Part, though, not all.

As ministers of the visual or aural arts, we want and need to be in relationship with someone who will be listening and watching what it is that we do, preferably before it's done publically! If the pastor is listening to the rehearsal and says to the music worship leader, "You know, that's a lovely song, but is that what you think we really believe??" AHA, the pastor has identified a song with questionable lyrics that got caught in the "warm-fuzzy" realm instead of in the rock solid truth realm! We've avoided feeding the other sheep baaaaaaad food! As the worship dance leader rehearses a piece for this Sunday's offertory, the pastor looking on says, "That's really powerful. It would be even better, I think, if you did it in a different place in the service." Or "Say, are you going to wear street clothes for that or a special garment? What does that garment look like and what does it say symbolically or physically to the folks?" This is covering. Helping us to be our best, to do things in line with the vision of the house, plugging in and working with the whole team rather than as independent plug-in modules that are all nice and pretty, but have no cohesive function within the congregation.

Dave, imagine for a minute that you have a pastor who sees what you do as valuable to the kingdom, and as a powerful tool in your local body. He recognizes that when you lead in dance, others follow. You've been asked to be part of some conference that is more than just dance, more than just worship. Pastor comes and says, "You know, I've heard about the leaders of that conference. Would you like to hear what I know?" Of course, you're going to be all ears because you know pastor has your absolute best interests in mind, right? If he warns you of something flaky in those conference leaders, but doesn't say "don't go", you're going to be on alert. If he tells you some particular emphasis that those leaders have, you're going to mentally prepare things with that emphasis in mind, right? Conversely, if those leaders call on your pastor, your covering, to find out more about who you are, he can glowingly report on you, and brag on your particulars only if he (she) knows those particulars. And for a pastor to say to a conference leader, "Yes, Dave is a great leader. He has a particular gift for getting men to participate in ways that they might not otherwise", why what a tremendous gift to the conference leaders and to the kingdom!

I have a lot more to say, but don't want to bloat this blog entry. As others comment, I'll probably add more.

What do you think??

the issue of "covering" - HelenaZF - 10-15-2006

It can be a bit scary, entering into the kind of inter-active covering relationship Dean is describing. Especially if you have been in a similar position before where you trusted someone and were abused. But it's worth the risk, because when it is working right, it is a wonderful thing to know you have someone watching out for your best interests. And that someone has spiritual authority and can pray for you with some heavenly clout. Quite a relief, actually, after having been on your own a lot.

the issue of "covering" - Jireh - 10-16-2006

Thanks for bringing up this subject. I have thought a lot about a covering for Jireh. I would love for our current Pastor to walk in this role, but I have not pursued the matter with him seriously. I need to sit down with him soon and discuss the matter.

Part of the reason I've been dragging my feet is that our church has an adult dance team. The leader of the team feels there is conflict with the Jireh. There are members of the church that participate with Jireh, but not with the church's dance team. This is a point of tension. I'm not sure that the Pastor is aware of this tension, but I am trying to avoid having a discussion about it with him. The accusations behind the issue are too rediculous for me to use my energy and time discussing it.

I also agree that CDF is more of a networking association and not a spiritual covering organization.

Peace & Blessings

the issue of "covering" - flaglady - 10-16-2006

Oh, how I would love to feel that my pastor walks in that, too! Sadly, he is so caught up with his personal vision for the church, anything I might take to him may become something of a distraction or even an irritant. Most things of this kind are filtered through his wife anyway and she never thinks of the flags as anything but my personal idiosyncracy. It makes me very sad but truth is, when I am doing my 'thing', most people are worshipping with eyes shut!

When I did the workshop and subsequent worship at the WearAlive project, both Mrs Pastor and her mother (my friend and cell-leader) were there and both said they were very emotional and felt great involvement with the worship expressed by the flags. It was only then, on the point of saying "BUT it's only what I do every Sunday!" that I realised that about their worshipping with eyes shut!

Never the less, just like all of you, I would not, could not, do less than I do and know that I know that I know, that it's to an "Audience of One" and not to the fellowship present.

Still would love to think that Mr and Mrs Pastor at the very least, had just an insight!

the issue of "covering" - DeanZF - 10-16-2006

<QUOTE author="flaglady,Oct 16 2006, 03:55 PM">
flaglady,Oct 16 2006, 03:55 PM Wrote:Still would love to think that Mr and Mrs Pastor at the very least, had just an insight!
One way to find out is to ask them! It's good if it's in a neutral place, fully under the guise of discussing your flagging in the congregation and away from there. Come with a couple of pretty focused questions and maybe a couple that are a little lighter.

Again, this thing about the best teachers for pastors are sheep is a major revelation. Again, just as the wife is the best way for a man to learn how to best love her, so a communicative sheep is the best means for a pastor to find out how that sheep wants and needs to be pastored.

If you ask the right questions, you might get some very revelatory answers, either positive or negative! :blink: