Worship and the Search for Intimacy with God

There are so many obstacles to worship. We are confronted with an innumerable set of distractions every day. Some of them are more compelling than others, but only just so. It is so easy to allow our attention to wander and focus on the silliest of things. Anything to avoid doing what needs to be done. It doesn’t matter how hard we try there will always be something vying for our attention.
Continue reading “Worship and the Search for Intimacy with God”

Who Makes Up The Worship Team?

I have been in church my entire life. My father is a pastor and I, very rarely, if I can help it, miss being in church on a Sunday morning. Even when I am on vacation I make time to go to church wherever I am. When I was seventeen years old, I too felt a calling toward full-time vocational ministry. Let’s fast forward just short of two decades ahead and I have been working in churches and with churches in a variety of capacities my entire adult life. The one thing I had never experienced was being a “worship pastor” until recently. And, I have to say, I have definitely learned a few important truths about who really makes up the worship team.

Worship is an important aspect of the Christian community. One of the problems that arises is that we do not alway know who is on the team and who isn’t. I have shared some of my thoughts over at Worship Links. You can read the rest of my guest post at WorshipLinks.us.

Make every worship song your own

Over the last few years, I have found my understanding of what worship is changing and expanding. The main reason is that I have been leading worship more often. My learning to play the guitar started as a necessity. It then became something far more personal. It was not something that I wanted to do. It just sort of happened. It needed to be done, and I was able to lead, so I did.

What makes worship so challenging, at least, to me, is that it can be difficult to get people to worship. Part of the problem may be that most of us do not know how to worship God. We have been exposed to an entertainment culture. So, that gets transferred into the church and we come waiting on the “show” to begin.

This is a dangerous and sad state of affairs. The conversations about worship no longer revolve around content but rather have shifted to style and preferences. It really should not matter the style of music that is being used, if you are a child of God, you should be able to worship whenever God’s people have gathered for that purpose.

I am not diminishing the reality of our own preferences. However, when these preferences dictate our ability to connect with our heavenly father, we have given far too much power over our worship to something that changes from one generation to the next. I do not my worship held hostage by the style of music. I must work to keep our worship focused on the one who is worthy of worship. And I must do this independent of what style is employed my the assembly I happen to be in.

It is a true statement to say that the distance between what was expected in the Temple during the sacrificial system and today is so great. By this, I do not mean the sacrifice itself. That would be too easy to identify as a difference. I am talking about the intimacy of having to watch that sacrifice being slaughtered because of my brokenness and sin. That connection, the connection between sin and sacrifice to atone has to be reconsidered and reestablished.

Yes, we can sing about the promises and the love of God. We can sing about all the great things God has done. We can sing about heaven and the power of the Spirit. All of these things are appropriate and necessary subjects of our praise. However, the underlying reason for all of these things, the reason we can sing about these things at all is because a Lamb was slain for the sins of the world.

When we fail to ground our worship in the truth of Christ’s death and resurrection, our worship is untethered from the only mooring that gives our worship meaning.

I have basically come to the conclusion that the problem is we do not take ownership of the worship we are are supposed to be giving to God. In other words, when I join the church to worship I have been called to belong to and the worship leader is leading in a song, I have to make that song my song. I have to make the words that are being sung my words. I should be joining my voice with the voices of the rest of the church as we say to ourselves and to God that we believe what we are singing together.

Each song is communicating something. There is a point to the lyrics and the music helps to communicate that idea. Therefore, if I am going to worship I have to engage all of my faculties. My head and my heart must be joined together. The emotions and ideas that I hear and contemplate may begin in the mouth of the leader but, eventually, they must come out of my mouth too. Not just to parrot what is happening. But because I believe what is being sung is true for me too.

When I worship, those who see me doing it, those who hear me sing should be able to say that they believe that I believe what I am singing and saying. Those around us should be convinced that I mean every word of the song I am singing.

I do not always do this, but I want it to be truer of me every day.

What is “The Overview Effect?”

sunrise-over-earthI came across this video and was struck by the startling struggle that those who do not have a faith orientation have in trying to describe realities of life that are sublime and spiritual. When faith is not the ground of those realities that are non-material and yet undeniable real our language betrays us. Take the time to watch this and listen to the wonder, awe, splendor and mystery those interviewed attempt to explain and quantify. Without a faith perspective we do not have the proper framework to express those yearnings and realizations that are not because of the object observed, but because of our awakened understanding of the larger story we are participating in. This was a remarkable video, both in its beauty, but also in its ignorance.

This is my take and I am sure that many of those in the video would disagree with my assessment. Let me know if and where I’m wrong. I look forward to your thoughts!

I would recommend watching it “full screen.”