Several years ago, while on a trip out west, Lisa and I visited a church well known for their worship. We went with anticipation of a great experience.
We were impressed by the facilities including the general look and feel of the campus. The worship center had great lighting and impressive staging. The overall visual experience was well done, even before the first note was played. But none of this could distract us from the strange feel in the room. The people were milling around, subdued and almost lethargic. No sense of anticipation or expectation that God just might show up and bless His people.
Then…the music started. Immediately – the place came to life with incredible expressions of praise. The band was amazing and the atmosphere electric. Until…they stopped. And just as suddenly as it had come, it was gone. Snuffed out, things had returned to an empty manufactured feel. God taught me a lesson that day I’ll never forget.
As worship leaders – we can never lead people where we ourselves do not go. And – our private worship will be made public…never the other way around. If our worship is motivated by the song…then it’s not the worship God seeks. If we feel the spirit rise within us only when the band gets cranked or the lights begin to burn, then we’ve settled for fools gold and found another god for our idol worship.
While speaking to the woman at the well in John 4, Jesus says the true worshipers will worship in TRUTH & in SPIRIT. If we are not motivated by His truth (His Word) and filled with His Spirit (Holy Spirit), then we simply don’t understand the kind of worship God seeks. And that kind of worship is found first and foremost in a quiet and reflective time with God. Relationships are cultivated one on one…there is no substitute. Spurgeon said this about the matter of a private worship, “Why is it that some are often in the place of worship and yet they are not holy? It is because they neglect their closets. They love the wheat, but they do not grind it; they would have the corn but they will not go forth into the field to gather it; the fruit hangs on the tree but they will not pluck it; and the water flows at their feet but they’ll not stoop to drink it.”
As musicians, it’s easy to develop a deep love of the song. Sometimes we say it’s the truth in the song, but mostly if we were honest, we just love music. Music is the language we speak and the eternal language that goes to the deepest darkest crevices of our hearts. But this great gift of song can never compare nor compete with the depths of knowing and loving the truth of God and the filling of His Spirit. I grow weary of meetings with other worship leaders and hearing over and over about the latest greatest song when a zeal for God and testimony of His power is so evidently missing. Our passions must be anchored in the truth of God and the power of His presence…then the songs will take on new meaning and power. Way too often the passion for Him is missing; replaced with the business of doing worship and doing “church”.
So let’s change that. Let’s make a choice to be committed private worshipers who become powerful public worship leaders. Let’s speak of the wonders of God first and motivate others to grow in truth. Let’s journey to that place of deep longing to see a move of God. Let’s become real!
This weekend, allow a song birthed in a sacred moment with God to be the first from your lips Sunday morning. Allow it to be born deep within you, motivated by a unquenchable fire to know and follow Jesus…no matter the cost. Then and only then…when you step up to the mic, put on your guitar, your choir robe – you will sense the filling of His Spirit and the sweet unmistakeable presence of The One you have already come to know so well.