Worship is a tremendous opportunity. For us as the WHO family on Sundays, it is the opportunity of interaction with the Father and His family that differs from our individual encounters with Him.
We have heard it said that our worship time is too long. We drag out one song for as long as 20 to 30 minutes. It seems like it’s just a jam session for the musicians. There is a disconnect between the worship team and the rest of the people in the room.
I get it. And because I do, it is very important to me that all who experience our corporate worship time understand why we do what we do. What I share below is not meant as an excuse or a defense. It is offered as an expression of purpose. When I understand the “Why?” of a thing, I appreciate it so much more. I hope it does the same for you.
- Let’s be honest, when we come to a gathering, we’re not all on the same page. If there are 200 people in a room, there are 200 different experiences, mindsets and concerns converging on one environment. Worship is the opportunity for those 200 streams to join as one. But that joining takes intention and time. To draw the human attention from individual to corporate is a worthy effort. Why? Because unity creates a divine encounter the world must take note of. A body emerges from individual cells bringing substance to mere belief. “…perfected in unity so the world may know…” The Lord is able to do greater things and be more Himself in focused, corporate unity.
- Not only are we not on the same page, we are also not all centered in Him. Jesus is to be the hub of our lives. Worship re-centers us on the Source of Life. And just as corporate unity takes intention and time, so does the unity between the human and the divine. Some already come centralized. Others come knowing they need it. Still others come thinking they are centered in Him, only to discover a growing emptiness inside as worship continues. And finally, there are those who come who have no idea about Him. Many more times than I can recount, the longer the worship context lingered, the more a longing heart was revealed from its cave.
- The worship environment is the opportunity to express the Jesus story in us. The Person we have been experiencing throughout our week is not just for us. It is for all. The original context of a 1st century Christian gathering was to share Jesus experiences. The microphone is not just for the worship leader and pastor. It is for any and all who have the Father’s Spirit burning inside of them. We are to be so hungry for Him that it does not matter who brings us the encounter we’re longing for. And yes, for us all to experience Him in you, it takes time.
- Sometimes, we as leaders aren’t where the Lord is. Yes, that’s right. More times than I want to admit, we have a plan He didn’t author. We start out in a certain direction and as His heart is revealed in worship, we change course to move with Him. So, to be frank and transparent, we miss it sometimes. And when we do, the journey takes longer. But I commit this to you: we will follow Him. And just like getting lost adds miles and time on a road trip, so does changing course in worship. But we won’t just sing songs to worship. He is our journey’s destination. And we will not be satisfied until we are home in Him.
- I think (yes, the following is my opinion) the popular, abbreviated worship setting is for human comfort and appeasement. Because we want to keep people’s attention, we sing several songs in a short period of time and then get on with the service. To me, the focus is on the wrong target. We desire the Lord’s comfort and appeasement. We worship for HIS attention. We want the fullness of Him in the room. An abbreviated worship set enables immaturity. If my mind wanders in worship, it isn’t the leader’s, team’s or song’s fault. It is mine. When I own my lack of attention on the Lord, I start to care to less about how much time has elapsed. I become enthralled with the wonder filling the screen of my heart and mind. Imagine a man telling his wife “I’ve got 25-30 minutes for you and then we’re just dragging this out.” We would completely understand her hurt and feelings of rejection. Now put the Lord in her place.
- The worship environment isn’t just about singing songs together. It is sharing with, praying for and encouraging one another. It is putting our arm around our brother, looking them in the eye and saying “I am with you”. It is to be an interactive, engaging atmosphere where multiple Spirit-led, heartfelt things are happening in a room simultaneously. A prayer for healing in one corner. Grieving with our sister in another. Intercession for the nations in one place and two laying down their offenses and reconciling in another. And then a swell of simultaneous, as-one worship of the Father of us all. All in one room, all at the same time. It can be chaotic. But from heaven’s perspective, it is beautiful unity under the orchestration of the Father’s Spirit. This again, cannot be rushed.
As our finish line in worship becomes the Person of the Lord, the clock fades to black as His brightness increases. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve looked at the clock after an engaging time with the Lord and been so surprised at how much time had passed. Time doesn’t matter to those who are in love. Engagement trumps schedule. And we have chosen loving engagement over a timely finish.
Oh how I hope all who read this hear my heart. And how I hope your desire for a real encounter in worship with your Father increases. He is life. Abundant.
I love you all deeply.