Lift Every Voice and Sing!

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There was a time in my life that I felt all I ever wanted to do in life was serve the local church by leading worship and being active in music ministry.

There was also a time in my life where I never wanted to lead again. In fact, that time wasn’t all that long ago.

I’d become tired of the “entertainment” aspect of leading worship. I was worn from have to cheerlead and excite a body of believers who claimed to know and love a God who is worthy of celebrating. Why come to church if you had no intention of raising your hands and singing a long? Why sit in the first 3 rows if you were intent on scowling and folding your arms?

It wasn’t until I began leading worship at my primarily “seeker friendly” church that my perception and understanding of corporate worship began to change.

I have an issue when believers won’t worship. (And that’s not to say that all believers worship looks or is expressed the same, either). But, I have compassion for unbelievers who still don’t know how to feel about Jesus and the church.

I have an issue when believers expect me to use my talents to stir them to an emotional pinnacle….allowing them to assume that my worship is for them and not for God. I do not however, have an issue using my gifts to allow God to sing through me to reach a person who’s questioning, hurting, or afraid.

I have an issue when believers sit on the first few rows, and refuse to participate. I find it absolutely fascinating when unbelievers or seekers sit on the first few rows and refuse to stand, or stand with their arms folded.

Last weekend our pastor felt led to do something at our church that doesn’t usually happen. He opened the altar to the masses for prayer, repentance, and worship. After a powerful message about confronting the walls in our lives that keep us from giving ourselves completely over to God….the altar and aisles were full. A father brought his family to the altar and wept with his arms around them. A woman dressed in the finest of clothes got down on her knees and wept with abandon. The same man who’d stared at me with a blank face and arms folded at the beginning of service , now had those same hands lifted and was freely singing along with me…..”I SURRENDER”.

As I sang “Here I am, down on my knees again…surrendering all, surrendering all…” it didn’t matter the “spiritual status” of anyone at the altar. It didn’t matter what attitude they’d come with, what burdens may have kept them from participating previously….we were all focused on one person, and Jesus was meeting each of us in a way we could receive.

Then I heard what seemed to be the voice of a great multitude, like the roar of many waters and like the sound of many peals of thunder, crying out, “Hallelujah! For the Lord our God the Almighty reigns. Let us rejoice and exult and give him the glory, …” Revelation 19:6-7a

I love the visual that comes to mind when I read this. Elders casting down crowns, angels flying here & there, witnesses all around….singing and proclaiming the majesty of God …every voice …one voice.

I love to worship in my private time at home. In my car. In my shower. But there is nothing like experiencing God’s presence with a room full of people who are just as excited to be in His presence and just as aware of our need for Him as I am.

I have learned that part of my job as a worship leader is not to lead people to a place or person they are not ready to know. I worship, God responds. I worship, God reveals. I worship, God draws. My only responsibility is to worship.

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