Spiritual Vitality: Worship — Dan Gardner
Many peoples will come and say,
“Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob. ….”
Isaiah 2 v 3 (NIV84)
I love this concept, that when we come together as the Body, there is a journey “up” to the House of God. I think one of the key concerns of keeping a spiritual vitality is to keep the ‘up’ factor in our services; there needs to be an elevation of faith, hope and love where people are moved and their current position and status is challenged.
People want to be taken somewhere. People desire to be moved. I ask this question to my team – “where do you want people to be at the end of a service: healed, whole, empowered to live a successful life, full of faith, hope in their hearts, abounding in love?”
We want people to leave a service feeling better than when they arrived!
Worship plays an integral part in creating the ‘UP’ factor. It is usually given the second most amount of time in our services and, apart from the welcome team at the door, is the first real experience people get of our church. So, what is the church experience like?
Here are two key areas, a bunch of questions we can ask that will help us to journey ‘up’ and some random thoughts along these lines..(a few of these will cross over into media/tech realms) :
What do you see on stage? Is it bright, colorful and alive or is it dark, dreary and emotional? Do you see smiling faces, energy, movement and passion or static, contemplative, internal worship? Does what you see inspire you to step out in faith and rise in worship?
What do you hear? Is it too loud or too soft? Is it appropriate for the demographics and situation (55+ services, 8am Sunday morning etc..)? Does it actually sound good? Do you hear wrong chords and bad notes? Do the words you sing lift your spirit and draw you closer to God? Are they too ‘me’ focused? Are they too reflective and passive? Are you being encouraged to rise and go deeper into the presence of God or are you being given orders and made to feel bad when you don’t fall to your knees in worship?
A few more thoughts
“Sing to him a new song; play skillfully on the strings, with loud shouts”
Psalm 33:3 (ESV)
Do we need a new song? Studies have shown that when people hear songs in the vicinity of 35 times, they become oblivious to the lyrics and what they are actually singing. I find over-sung songs can cause stagnant worship. Fresh songs can usher in a fresh move of God. What is God saying/doing in your church? Sing songs about this…
Excellence is not over-rated! Wrong chords and bad notes are a distraction! Anything that’s not adding or building the atmosphere is taking away from it. Excellence is not the end goal but it is a core value and attitude we need to have in worship. It serves several purposes:
1. Bringing Glory to God – 1 Chron 22:5 …the Temple to be built for the LORD must be a magnificent structure, famous and glorious throughout the world… He deserves our best.
2. Capturing the head before the heart – I find that people judge with their heads before they’re willing to give over their heart. Often termed the “Wow Factor” are people wow’d by the quality and excellence of the music in your church?
3. Free enough to be good / good enough to be free. Preparation is the key. As worshippers are we free enough, in terms of: physically, mentally and spiritually, to do a good job? Have we spent time in the presence of God and sought him BEFORE coming to play/sing. Have we had enough sleep? Are we good enough to be free? Are we competent enough musically and technically to not be hindered? To position ourselves to be able to lift our eyes off what we’re playing to what is happening spiritually?
So next Sunday, let’s take people on a journey ‘up’ to the house of God. Lets challenge their position, encourage them to go deeper and help them to leave full of faith, hope and love, ready to live their best life in victory.
C3 Bridgeman Downs – Music and Media