A Tale of Two Churches (Part Two)
Last week, I wrote about the church that looked healthy on the outside, yet had some serious issues with what was happening in worship (If you have not read the post, please read that now)
Now, the rest of the story:
That Sunday night, we attended the opening “session” of the worship conference at the second church in the same area. It was actually a worship service involving their choir and congregation with us being a part of the congregation. I cannot begin to express to you the difference in the two churches.In my observation, this was truly a church where the glory of God dwells. The service was Spirit-filled and I believe most everyone in attendance truly encountered God. I found myself caught up in heart-felt praise and worship so much so that the “processing” side of me that looks critically at worship services and music shut down and I was transported into God’s presence. I sensed God saying to me, “This is what I want you to be about in leading worship.”
There was such a freedom of worship at that church. People felt liberty to raise their hands in worship, if they desired; yet those that didn’t feel comfortable worshipping that way, I sensed, felt fully accepted and involved. People had the freedom in worship to respond to God by going to the altar to pray whenever the desired; they didn’t have to quench the Spirit and wait for an “acceptable” time at the end of the service. The choir was truly a worship leading choir. They were one of the best choirs I have ever encountered, yet they didn’t come across at all as a performance group. You could tell by their singing and their countenance that they were there to worship and to lead others into worship. There was such a connection between the congregation and choir–the congregation seemed to be experiencing worship vicariously through the choir’s singing. Indeed, on many occasions, when the anthem was familiar, many in the congregation would rise to their feet and begin singing with the choir, or just stand there worshipping God. There was nothing “showy” about people’s worship expressions; there was simply a freedom and openness for people to respond to God as He prompts.
God confirmed in my heart those days in Texas what He wants of me as a worship leader. He clearly placed a vision for what worship is to look like in the church I served. Not a performance-based music and worship program that brings in the people to be entertained, but a passionate, whole-hearted, participatory worship service that focuses our hearts, souls, minds, and strength on the One we owe everything.
Returning from that conference, God had transformed my life, and He began to transform the worship life of the church I served.
REFLECTION: Where do you see yourself in these two stories? Are lives being transformed by God in worship at your church? Are people experiencing God’s power in worship? Do our people merely come to be spectators of the “worship” experiences we provide? Are your “up front” people seeing themselves as performers or prompters? (more on this in previous post). Where do you sense God leading you?
Spend some time seeking God’s leading in your worship life.