I was given the assignment recently to make some introductory comments about inspiring worship as a group of people put their heads together to navigate the results of the Natural Church Development Survey. What follows are the four compass points for me that make up inspiring worship.
INSPIRING WORSHIP IS CONNECTIVE:
It is related and applicable to my context, engaging me and all of my faculties, my left brain and my right, the logical linear me and the emotive, creative me. If healing requires that all of our senses be on board how much more so is that true for worship.Yet it is not all about me, not even about what I think I want. There is a balance between the me and the Holy Thee, for ultimately inspiring worship connects/confronts me with the glory of God. In that regard inspiring worship is always experiential; it will not leave me where I was but demands a response from me that motivates/ inspires me to take the next step in my journey of faith. Inspiring worship is the bridge that connects me to the Transcendent One and as such it engages me in the deep places of my soul.
INSPIRING WORSHIP IS TRANSCENDENT:
Inspiring worship is always about the transcendent; an experience of God, His Word present and powerfully communicating into my life. It is about the sacraments and the Shekinah reminding me that there is more to life than I can taste, touch, smell, feel, hear, or rationalize. The Transcendent brings Divine immediacy and Holy expectation together in my heart as the sanctuary for worship. Routine often becomes the enemy of the Transcendent, lowering our expectations.
INSPIRING WORSHIP IS DIRECTIVE:
Inspiring worship demands clear leadership; someone who has some sense of where we are going in the service and how to get there. It is well prepared spiritually, liturgically, and instrumentally. In our context when the leader is not directive vocally everyone becomes hesitant, if not reluctant.
INSPIRING WORSHIP IS COMMUNAL:
I worship better with you than without you. Inspiring worship always brings me from the me to the we. In the words of the Hezekiah Walker song “I need you, you need me; we’re all a part of God’s Body. Stand with me, Agree with me, We’re all a part of God’s Body ... you are important to me...” The communal aspect of worship brings me from my needs to the needs of those around me, to the needs of the world but at the same time when my hope is sagging the we/community carries me and on those days when your hope is sagging my/our communal faith will carry you. The more broken I am the more I need you to carry me to Jesus even if all the messages I sent are contrary to that. We are made for community and worship is at its zenith when experienced in community.
You’ll notice that nothing said here speaks to the “forms” of worship because if the above are present the form should not matter.