My wife is a great cook. Throughout our marriage I have watched her prepare (and joyfully partaken in) literally hundreds of unique dishes. She is more of an artist in the kitchen. Each time it is a little different. Recently we had some children over to make pancakes. My wife patiently helped them find each of the ingredients; they had a grand time cracking eggs, stirring flour, getting the ingredients ready, in anticipation of the delicious breakfast to come. For me, worship is a little like cooking.
As I have had the privilege to minister in worship with the Eagles’ Wings team in nations around the world (from churches of 25 to stadiums of 25,000) I have tasted a lot of different flavors of worship, but have seen some common themes that seems to be ingredients that move worship from just singing songs, to a life-changing encounter with the Creator King.
- Lift Up – What are we focused on when we worship? Is it the great sound, the amazing skill, the flashing lights? If we only focus on the externals, we can inadvertently lead people into “spectator mode.” As leaders, we have the opportunity to model a “God-first” approach, inviting people to interact with the Living God. Beginning with prayer to God, not just about God, and reading portions of Scripture throughout the time can realign people’s focus on Who this is really all about.
- Listen Up – Developing sensitivity to the voice of the Spirit and being able to respond to what He is doing in the midst of His people is so important. One of the best ways to do this is to make space – to literally “wait on the Lord.” This can mean a pause before worship begins, or it can be in the midst of worship where we don’t just go through our list of songs, but make space for our hearts to linger in a moment and truly listen.
- Train Up – I don’t know if we realize it, but every time we worship it is just a rehearsal. It’s just a warm-up for the eternal worship service we’re going to be engaged in for all time. We shouldn’t be afraid to train people in worship. If you feel the need for an instrumental interlude, tell the people. “Folks, we are going to take a moment and wait on the Lord. Don’t be distracted; just focus your hearts on Him.” You will be helping them grow in their worship life personally as well as corporately.
- Link Up – Another thing worship provides is the opportunity to love and encourage one another. Paul admonishes the Ephesians that they should encourage one another in “psalms, hymns and spiritual songs,” (Eph. 5:19). As leaders there are times when we should facilitate this interaction. Maybe it’s breaking into prayer clusters of 2-3 people and speaking a 30-second blessing over one another, or it could be declaring God’s word that you are singing over one another. There is something powerful released when worship becomes about “we” not “me.”
Just like my wife’s artistry in our Saturday morning pancake adventure, the Holy Spirit knows how to take our simple offering and make something amazing out of it. As we enter the Presence of God each time in worship, perhaps we should think of ourselves more as kids in the kitchen. We have been invited to bring the ingredients and follow His direction, but ultimately the end result is something only He can make happen. As we smell the aroma of heaven rising, we can only say, “Oh taste and see that the Lord is good,” (Psalm 34:8).