We worship together

Lately I have been looking around online and asking other worship leaders how they plan their time of music and other aspects of their ministry as worship leaders. I want to distill the essence of what it means to worship together. It’s the together part I get hung up on. In the list of values or attributes for our worship team, this is number 2…(not listed by importance)

2. Everything we do will be to the benefit of all members of the worship experience.

Today’s worship leaders have an insane amount of cheap technology to put on concerts with. A cool new LED stage light, effect pedal, fog, cool clothes, video loops, all can be had for about a hundred bucks. You could walk into most churches and see these things making a great atmosphere that pulls you from your daily life and makes you forget your troubles. All you think about is the music and the emotion.

That is a great list of tools. The common complaint against the modern church is what they do with those tools. A lot of the time, it ends with a concert. As Christians, we need a time dedicated to abandoning our troubles and just thinking about and feeling the presence of our God. A concert setting can be a great place for that to take place! It’s a great toolbox, but in itself, it is nothing more.

For me to feel like we led a successful worshipful experience, there has to be corporate involvement. The congregation had to be involved in it, not just subject to it. I have been through both settings and i know the difference between God’s presence and cool lights. I will like music more with lights and smoke, it’s just who I am, but that won’t bring me to my knees or lift my hands or make me sing notes I could never dream to hit right. The only thing capable of that is God himself.

When I sing and look around me seeing others engage, seeming to forget there are other people around them, lifting their hands, or falling to the ground, or just the look on their faces…that is what sets me free. The spirit of God moves people through people. A room full of smoke and lights could never do that.

It’s hard to put a fine point on this concept, but this has been my shot. It’s my job, what God has called me to do, to lead his people into his presence, and every change I make will have that intent. Lights, effects, smoke, and new songs are all cool but only if they help us come together *into God’s presence.

The more we do this, the easier it is to do. So, I want it to be as easy as possible for people to do this every week, and I will use anything God provides to do it.

*(on a side note, it is us who come into the presence of God because it is us who run away. I get annoyed when leaders ask God to come…He is always there, we just need help feeling it sometimes.)

 

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1. Our worship will NEVER be performance focussed.

Step into any large church and you will see they look like they could all host a decent rock concert. Well, they can, and probably do on a weekly basis. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it can be a dangerous thing.

I’ve spent some time thinking and talking with family and friends (fellow believers) to figure out, at what point does our music/performance/style become a hindrance to the congregation? There isn’t an answer like “after 4 weeks of…” but I think I can convince you to agree with my general premise and why I’ve made my number 1 guideline hinge on this question.

Everything we do as a church should be based in scripture.

                                 Lets dive in to some scripture.

“…be filled with the Spirit, 19 speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, 20 always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

                                                             ~Ephesians 5:19-20

                                 Another variation from Colossians…

16 Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. 17 And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”

                                                             ~Colossians 3:16,17

24 God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.”

                                                             ~John 4:24

 

From these scriptures I see a congregation singing together to God for His glory in response to the effect He has on their lives and the joy in their hearts because of Him. As long as the people of God are doing that, the style or speed or lights or fog or volume are irrelevant. I haven’t read anywhere that Jesus said “thou shalt not exceedeth 85 decibels.” On the flip side, I haven’t read anywhere that he said we need big flashy lights, stages, or smoke machines…(although if you count incense…)

I am a fan of the cool technology we have today, but it is a tool, and as soon as we start trying to put on a concert, we have stopped using our hearts. We can create awe inspiring spaces and decorations and enveloping sounds but if I think “what will keep them interested? What will entertain them?” Then I have stopped asking “what will entertain God?”

Sometimes the lights and effort it takes to put on a modern concert can be a symbol of dedication in doing our best to show the world and God the lengths we are willing to go to broadcast our gratitude and our heart for Him. Sadly, we don’t take that to market most of the time.

I could write on this for hours, and maybe I should write a small book, but for you, I will cut ot the chase.

My point is, If we are worshiping with music to express what God has done to our hearts and lives then it doesn’t matter the style or tools we use. It only becomes a problem when we care more about having a good time or entertaining a crowd.

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