Daily Praise: How Worship As a Lifestyle Transforms Modern Praise & Worship
As a worship leader my main goal has been to prepare songs and spaces that draw people into the presence of God to experience his power and love. Sometimes this is incredibly simple, other times its like pounding up an impossibly frustrating fortified concrete wall.
Most of us have been there and it's hard to know how to respond. Do I just let it go by? Should I try to say something that will inspire praise? Did I do something wrong? This is the internal dialogue while the songs play on, but the biggest question has always been: why. Why isn't this church fully engaged in worship right now? Why aren't these people responding to the gospel in praise? Why does this feel so disengaged?
I've heard it a thousand times that people worship different, and I believe that as long as it's not an excuse for what my old pastor would call "dead-butt worship." Honestly, the main difference between a community that engages in worship and a community that does not is determined by whether or not that community embraces a lifestyle of worship.
Overflow is the source
One of the guiding principles of People Of Freedom is overflow. We describe overflow as when worship, ministry, and character come from a place of security and intimacy with Christ. Jesus demonstrated this in his ministry on earth. Because of the importance of his example and promise, we believe that anything not happening from overflow in Christ is borderline dangerous.
We learn that there wasn't a single thing Jesus did outside of overflow. Knowing the Father was what gave Jesus the wisdom for his ministry on earth.
So Jesus said to them, "Truly, truly I say to you, the Son can do nothing of his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father does, that the Son does likewise. For the Father loves the Son and shows him all that he himself is doing. And greater works than these will he show him, so that you may marvel. - John 5:19-20 ESV
In the same way, when we start to lose focus of what we see the Father doing we lose authority and our works and worship become useless.
How to respond When we lose overflow
Over and over, I teach my team at Life Compass to be open an honest about where we are at in overflow. The graceful message is that God doesn't expect us to be perfectly in the center of his heart free from distractions and at all times in peace. I mean that is the goal of the Christian, but God knows our hearts and that we can wander. So I teach the team to identify when we are and aren't centered in Christ.
This matters so much because the response is completely different. Christ accepts us in whatever state we come into worship as long as we are seeking him, humble, and willing. When we lose overflow the very best place to be is worshipping in the presence of the Holy Spirit. A beautiful image of community emerges. One where overflowing believers are able to encourage fellow believers whenever they step out of overflow.
The mature Christian will learn to be overflowing daily with the Lord, while the new believer may find themselves only coming to that well in the gathering. When the balances tip too far and believers don't meet with the Lord daily, churches can become parylized in the gathering place, often times not because they do not desire worship, but because they are unaware of what is available to them.
Communing With God
In order to keep overflow present, Christ needed to be with his Father constantly. In John 10:30 Jesus says, "I and the Father are one." Later in chapter 17 he prays, "The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one." In the same way we must learn to commune with the Lord daily.
This kind of abiding presence with the Lord is something that we just can't conjure up on a stage with a band and lights. This kind of connection to the Lord happens in a lifestyle where seeking God and hearing his voice become very personal. Instead of become frustrated or discouraged when worship doesn't seem to be connecting during our community gatherings we have to ask more honest questions. Is my heart still leading from overflow? Is my community practicing daily worship? Did we let our own agendas get in the way of worship?
I've see that nothing captures the heart of God in worship quite like a community of abiding believers. However, while many people find rejuvenation and renewal when coming into community worship, this cannot be our main source of connection to the Lord. The only way community worship remains an encouragement for other believers is when we commit to knowing God personally outside of worship gatherings.
I truly believe the best times of worship leading are when you are barely leading worship at all. I'll be the first one to defend the value of great musicality, production, and presentation in their benefit to worship, but the last person to ride my money on them. If for even a moment we allow our own strengths to define our worship then we begin asking all the wrong questions. But if we focus completely on cultivating communities of believers who understand what it means to worship daily then whatever offering of music or production we bring will be saturated in God's presence.
Co-Host of People of Freedom