I bow down toward your temple in reverential awe of You!” – Psalm 5:7 HSCB
How can worship leaders enable others to fall deeply in love with God? Here are eight principles that can enable a vertical vortex of Spirit and Truth:
1. Gather God’s family. Whatever your worship tradition or style, liturgical or free, we must allow our people to re-establish their identity as God’s family, either through fellowship or liturgy. Whether with greetings and laughter, or through meditation with quiet music, we become once again a family gathered to worship our Father. Embrace the joy, love, and acceptance of being family. Cultivate and maintain that closeness throughout the worship gathering. Worship leaders can express the warmth and joy of encouragement and love in their words, tone of voice, and posture.
2. Proclaim and celebrate God’s revelation. Begin the service with a powerful proclamation that reveals who God is and what he is doing in the world. Throughout the Bible, God bursts into our mundane lives to announce his power and presence. Refuse to let your worship service get off to a “lame” start. Powerfully celebrate God’s coming to us.
3. Include the Biblical elements of worship through revelation and response. Isaiah 6 models God’s revelation and our response. Build drama and flow throughout worship by reenacting revelation and response. Then analyze carefully your weekly worship to make sure it includes each of these four Biblical elements: God gathers His family; God reminds us of his mighty acts and the gift of Christ; We respond to God’s love in Christ through praise, confession, repentance, and surrender; and God sends us out as his missionaries to our world. These four elements do not have to be compartmentalized into sections. Allow them to flow freely and be repeated as needed within the worship gathering. Create dramatic flow throughout to facilitate the powerful portrayal of the gospel.
4. Focus totally on God and the gospel throughout the service. Teach and remind worshipers constantly that God first revealed himself in love. Our response should be surrendering all we are and have, not demanding something for ourselves. Encourage your worshipers continually to sing to God and not just about God. Help them understand the necessity of engaging intentionally with God every minute during worship. Can they hear his voice speaking directly to them in the songs, the Scripture readings, prayers, sermon, and other expressions? Are they responding in confession, repentance, and surrender? Make a date with God to connect with him in every service. Analyze your worship to see if there are distractions or interruptions to the vertical vortex. Technical system checks are a must to make sure sound, video, lights, etc do not become a distraction.
5. Celebrate God transforming lives instead of promoting your church. Turn church stories into God stories. Help church members fall deeply in love with God rather than with you and your church. If they see God at work in your church, your church will be attractive without having to be attractional.
6. Promote participation. Avoid “performance mode” and “spectator-ism.” Creatively include Scripture, prayer, and testimony led by many different worship participants. Including choirs to facilitate congregational worship will get more people participating regardless of your musical style. Do reach for excellence as an extravagant gift to God, our unblemished lamb given in sacrifice.
7. Discover resources to best convey the message to a modern congregation in their cultural context. Study the demographics of your community and determine what your church members are reading and listening to in their daily lives. Poll your congregation to discover their heart languages. Then intentionally design worship in their heart language to connect them with God, his kingdom, and his mission.
8. Send them out: Place announcements and recognitions at the close of worship to avoid interrupting the focus on God. They will remember best the last thing they hear. Include no more than three announcements and be sure they apply to the whole church. Finally, commission them to be “the church” in the world, actively joining God on mission where he has placed you every day. Transform the benediction into a commissioning. Say something to this effect: “We are God’s people, let’s go live like it!” or “God has been revealed to us today; let’s respond by joining him on mission every day this week.”
We must understand that while God uses the elements of worship, he is not the elements of worship. We must not mistake our worship activity for God. No single methodology holds the key to unlocking powerful worship. Again, Christ-powered worship happens when the power of God’s spirit is present and unhindered and God’s word of truth, the gospel message, is presented in all its power. Regardless of whether our favorite form of worship is contemporary or traditional, free or liturgical, if we do not find the power of God’s spirit and truth, it will all be an empty show. — Mark Powers