In part 1, I AM NOT THE WORSHIP LEADER, I explained that Christ has already led you into God’s presence, so I don’t have to. In part 2, WORSHIP IS NOT ABOUT SINGING I explained that worship was about a whole life – heart, mind, soul, and strength – given over to God to proclaim and display His glory. If someone doesn’t live under this Lordship – which is Kingdom living – it doesn’t matter what they confess as some incantation: NO AMOUNT OF PASSIONATE SINGING CAN CHANGE WHAT KINGDOM YOU ARE A PART OF!
You see, true believers in Christ worship in “Spirit & Truth”, which includes ALL of ourselves, including our voices. Confessing “Jesus is Lord” is not simply admitting that you are convinced academically – in your MIND – that Jesus was somehow God, BUT that here and NOW He is your owner, ruler, master, and KING! Kingdom living – Holy living – living fully for Him – IS Worship! However, if God presence if already available through Christ, and He wants all that we are, there is only one response: draw near. And if you find yourself living the Kingdom life, readily aware of God’s nearness, you cannot HELP but SING! In that case, worship is all about Singing.
One Sunday morning not long ago I led worship for the 11 AM service at church. Oddly enough, I was no where near the stage. I had no microphone, never addressed the congregation verbally from stage, and played no instrument. I didn’t pick songs. I didn’t rehearse the band. I did absolutely nothing that would make you think that I was leading worship, but I was a worship leader, none-the-less.
In the ultimate sense Jesus is our worship leader, ushering us into the Father’s presence, but in a lesser, more immediate sense, all of us, whether on stage, in the sound booth, or standing in a pew, are called to encourage others in worshiping God.
This is probably the most clarifying voice in the Scriptures on the purpose, practice, and use of corporate singing as worship in our churches: Colossians 3:16 says, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.”
“Let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly…” Be honest – that doesn’t happen often enough. We wish that we could hear from God, and though God still speaks, we often don’t hear Him because we aren’t responding to what He’s already told us clearly in His word. Why bother speaking to someone if they show no sign of listening? Digging into the Word, and responding to what we read, is absolutely essential if we are to hear from God and do what comes next.
“… teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs…” Here is the clincher: when we sing as a body, the “teaching” and “admonishing” of “one another” is to take place, and that is only sometimes verbal. When you sing the truth about Christ, you’re not only singing to God, but to your brother or sister in Christ beside you, in front of you, behind you – and the conviction with which you sing – the passion with which you worship will teach – will admonish — those in your midst.
Ephesians 5:19 clarifies this verse, saying that we are to be, “…addressing ONE ANOTHER in psalms, hymns and spiritual songs…singing and making melody TO THE LORD with all your heart.” Take note: at the same time that Paul is calling us to address one another – those around us – in singing, he also points out that in doing that, we are making singing to the Him! It is a consistent Biblical theme that what you do for others you are doing to God.
Last Sunday I led worship not from the stage, but from within the congregation. During one song in particular, I chose to stand up and sing with everything I had, even though when I did – at first – I must have looked like a redwood tree growing out of the middle of a desert. But slowly, one by one, others began to rise to their feet – then the whole room stood to their feet to sing the powerful closing chorus. Christ made it possible for me to stand in God’s presence, the worship leader on stage was directing the band to make music that moved my heart to thankfulness for what God had done, and as a result I was a worship leader in the midst of that congregation, “teaching and admonishing”- “addressing” those around me by my own worship given to God.
Your faith, and your corporate response in particular, is not just between You and God. Don’t get me wrong: it needs to be between You and God first, and if Jesus is not already your primary worship leader – if you are not standing in Him in God’s presence as God’s adopted child – this is by no means a call for worship to be between just you and the person beside you, with God left out of the picture. But know this: almost every time the Bible says the word “you” it’s plural – like “Ya’ll”. God saves us to be part of a community, and some of the most important worship you will even take part in will be with the whole body of Christ.
That is just to say, how I respond to God is worship – worship is whatever I do that tells the world how valuable God is to me. That is far more than just singing a song on Wednesday night or Sunday morning – in fact, it is possible, I suppose, to worship God and never sing. However, we are a people who, in order to fully experience truth, need to live it – and singing is the overflow of that living.
The fact that we gather to worship in community, and part of that call is to address ‘one another’, means that in some sense each of us as Christians play the role of ‘worship leader’ to those with which we worship.
Biblical passages on our worship are almost always expressive: “stand in awe”…”I will sing praise to Your name, O Most High”…”my lips will SHOUT for JOY, when I sing praises to You”…”clap your hands, all people! Shout to God with loud songs of joy!”…”Moses quickly bowed his head towards the earth and worshiped”…”let them praise His name with dancing, making melody to Him with tambourine and lyre!” (or rather, drums and guitar!). There may be some days that you can’t keep from shouting or dancing, but some when you may be moved to want to sit in contemplation, or even fall to your knees or on your face – those are all GREAT places to be before God, but always be prepared and expectant of being moved, because God speaks through His Word and special things happen when His people come together to worship Him!
If Christ has already DONE what is necessary for you to experience God, what is holding you back? March into his throne room boldly – see if He does not meet you there by his Spirit! Do whatever you must with your body, to get your heart to respond emotionally, to what your mind has heard intellectually so your spirit can receive it fully. That is the first and greatest commandment: “Love the Lord your God with all of your heart, mind, soul, and strength”: THAT IS WORSHIP! And if you’ve been purchased by Christ, and granted access into the Father’s presence, how you can keep from singing?
Let us SING!
Shannon Lewis is “The Worship Community Guy“. Passionate about helping others respond to God, & training people who are passionate about the same, Shannon also blogs at SaintLewisMusic, where you can grab his free eBook, UNSEASONED: How to see Godly Growth in an Inexperienced Worship Team.