It has been such a long time since I blogged (I feel like I've said that before in another blog) and a lot has happened in my life since my last post. Let's see...I went to London for close to 2 weeks and took part in a worship leader conference by Tim Hughes. I think I have characterized that trip as both confirmational and transformational. It indeed was. I was there with 20 other worship leaders from around the globe and we had amazing teaching sessions, as well as incredible worship times together. It was confirmational because as I was there, I felt God tugging on my heart strings and whispering to me, "this is what I have for you, Justin. But, this is just the beginning..." I gained a lot of knowledge, wisdom and revelation concerning worship and where God is taking worship around the world. And, I gained amazing friends. God is taking worship to new levels. It is kind of hard to explain, but worship as a whole is going into deeper waters. I feel as if we have been in knee or waist deep water for so long now, but God is calling us deeper. Waters so deep that we can only swim. No more touching the bottom of the old way of doing worship. Don't get me wrong, I am so thankful of what worship HAS been in the past 10 years or so. Delirious came in and took us to deeper waters, then Passion, and now God is raising up worship leaders all over the world, and He is uniting us with with one goal...enountering Him. If we don't encounter Him and if we don't leave a worship setting changed, then we did not have a true encounter with the Living God! Now I am talking about the corporate gathering together where we lift up the Name of Jesus and adore Him, whether in song, meditation or contemplation. There are so many more ways to worship, laughing with friends, obeying your parents and authority, taking a walk and standing in awe of the beauty of His creation, reading Scripture, and so on and so on. But as far as corporate worship goes, where we are heading is exciting and can be a little uncomfortable to some. To start, look at what people are watching these days...reality TV shows. People enjoy tuning in every week to see what's going to happen next. They are drawn in to the unpredictable nature of these shows. In the same way, our worship services need to be "Reality TV Show Worship Services." In no way should one be able to know what is going to happen when they walk into church on a Sunday morning, or a Wednesday night. They should wondering, "what's going to happen this week?" I remember going to 7:22 many years ago, totally expecting to have loud worship and then hear Louie Giglio give his message. But as soon as I walked through the doors, there were signs up telling us to find our seat and stay silent. The whole service was silent. There was no music. There was no sermon. There was no ministry time. We sat in darkness (yes there were candles around the room) and read words on the big screens; words of Scripture mainly, but also words of instruction on what to meditate next on. It was an altogether different service, but one that I will always remember. It was the Holy Spirit that led that service as you focused on Jesus and allowed Him the time to speak into your heart. So, our worship services need to be unpredictable, because the Holy Spirit is unpredictable!
Which leads me to the next major point, the Holy Spirit is THE worship leader. I love Matt Redman's idea of lead worshippers. This takes the pressure off us mere humans and puts it all on the Holy Spirit. If you look back through the Bible, you read of different "worship leaders." You read, "a song of Moses," or a "song of David," or "Mary's song," or "Zechariah's song." These words were mentioned all the way up until Pentacost. It was here that the shift took place. From here on out, the Holy Spirit controlled the worship. He became the Worship Leader. So, as the lead worshippers (ie. Matt Redman, Chris Tomlin, Tim Hughes, Hillsong, Kevin Mann, Tate Welling, Bill Tanner, myself, etc) prepare for a worship service, we need to allow the Holy Spirit to direct the service. We need to ask Him where He wants the service to go. We need to seek His direction and ask Him what kind of response He wants in our worship. Also, we need to plan for the unpredictable. Space needs to be planned to give the Holy Spirit room to do what HE wants. He may want us to stay on one chorus for longer, or He may want us to completely go off of the set list and do a different song. Or, He may want to go into a prophetic time or He may lay a word of Scripture on our hearts that we need to turn into a song. Or, we just need to be silent and let Him speak into our lives. To some, this is scary because they have gotten used to touching bottom. Has He ever let us down? Will He leave us? Dive in. Swim. Splash around. HE IS GOOD!!!
It should be common in our worship services for people to dance. It should be common in our worship services for people to weep. It should be common in our worship services for healings to occur. It should be common in our worship services for God to call out people into their Kingdom destiny. If these aren't happening, then we need to take an inventory on the worship that is in our churches. It may be time to humble ourselves and allow the Holy Spirit to lead. I'm speaking to myself here. See, God is doing a new thing all over the world. It's time to swim people. That's just it...it's time!
So I will leave you with those points. The bar has been set. I'm both excited and anxious to see what it is going to look like when the Holy Spirit is leading our worship. Not just in the corporate setting, but in our own lives as well.
I will include a few pictures of the London retreat:
Here is me and Tim Hughes! (My new friend...he loves Ketchup)
Here is the whole group giving our rendition of "jazz hands"
And this is the mansion we stayed in...pretty sweet huh?