The River vs. The Songlist

A clear distinction can be made between the structured worship service and the spontaneous one. Structured services are often very robotic feeling. They remind me of a church I visited when I was young in which the whole congregation sang a few hymns together in the same monotone voice accompanied by a loud pipe organ. Now that may work for some but for me it seemed too serious and systematic; it lacked a sense of freedom or feeling.

Conversely, spontaneous worship services are lively, free and full of energy. Many times in spontaneous services the congregation is at liberty to respond in whichever way the Spirit is leading them. You might see people dancing or clapping or kneeling or crying. It’s a place of freedom, a place in which many different personalities can come together and approach God in different ways.

When we come together to worship God, not everybody is always going to be on the same page. Some may be happy and others sad, some may be doing really well while others may be struggling. But I think that’s a key characteristic of worship: it’s a place to let go and to express thanksgiving and praise to God regardless of what you’re experiencing in your life. We lift our eyes off our problems and praise His name.

We may all have different life circumstances when we come together but we need to realize that we’re coming together as the Bride of Christ. I think there is power in setting our present circumstances aside to unite as one and fix our eyes on Jesus. Thankfully as believers we all have the same Holy Spirit and He is able to guide us as the body of Christ so that we are of one heart and mind. When the whole community of believers comes together to worship, the Bride is singing to Jesus.

I think the congregation is just as responsible for the flow of a worship service as the worship team. It’s like a large group of friends going white water rafting. Everyone needs to help out in order to make it down the river. We might be in different positions in the raft but we all need each other. Thankfully, the Holy Spirit is our guide and is faithful to lead and help us.

Whether we’re members of the worship team or the congregation we need to realize the importance of what we’re doing when we worship together. We are giving praise to the one true living God, thanking Him and singing to Him because He is worthy. We wouldn’t exist if he hadn’t spoken us into being.

I believe that “the ultimate worship experience” is neither by might nor by power or amazing voices or awesome guitar licks or energetic drumbeats et cetera; it is by His Spirit. Through humility, God will use those aforementioned things in us to bring glory to Himself.

When Jesus gave up His life He tore the temple curtain and eliminated all the rituals, procedures and requirements needed in order to approach Him. The new covenant of grace and truth affords us the permission to come freely and boldly before His throne of grace; our worship ought to be the same.


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