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.
Thanks for this, Jeff.
Sometimes I wonder why we do what we do each and every Sunday morning. At times it feels as though we’re just going through the motions. The first century church kept it simple: Prayer, the singing of a hymn or two, and then the gospel was preached, period.
I don’t get over zealous during worship for this reason: The fear of having it simply be a passing, emotional experience. Worship is supposed to be a lifestyle – not just something that’s scheduled for Sunday morning before the message is preached. Hate to admit this but, sometimes I’ll just stand there and look around during worship – watching those with hands raised and wonder to myself: “Are they doing that because their genuine love for the Lord is compelling them to do so – or – because that’s what they saw someone else do a long time ago and it just stuck like a habit?” I suppose it’s not my job to judge other believers………but this is the way my mind works sometimes.
Anyhow, thank you for this blog today, sir. It was much needed. I appreciate what you do – even though it’s not necessarily in our church anymore.