Occasionally I have the opportunity to lead worship at our church here in Port au Prince. The church is called Port au Prince Fellowship – we have Sunday services in English – the congregation is made up of Haitian nationals, missionary families, and other humanitarian workers and business people.
It is an honor and a privilege to lead God’s people in acts of worship and service to Him. I am always grateful and humbled by the opportunity, and I find it very fulfilling. (I realize that music isn’t everyone’s gift or preferred way of getting close to God - and sometimes I’m uncomfortable with the way we’ve decided to make it the primary and sometimes only method of worship within the church – but I digress.)
I’ve seen other ‘worship-type’ people (to use John McHoul language) blogging about their ‘set-lists’ from Sunday services and find it to be very interesting and educational. I doubt the same is true of everyone reading this so I’ll leave it out.
One thing I often notice when looking at the worship list from other churches is how short they are. We’re usually in the nine to ten song category, which is apparently a lot. Not that there is any proper length of service rules or anything like that – but in my opinion when a body of believers gathers together for the purpose of worshiping our Creator and Savior there should be some serious time spent in the act of worship.
A lot of this is due to the cultural differences between the US and Haiti and the different viewpoints on time. Sometimes those differences drive us nuts but in this case I think the ‘hot-climate culture’ way of ignoring time-frames and schedules may be a good thing…at least for me and my love for worshiping through music. I have to confess to checking my watch on Sunday mornings in the past and squirming in my seat if the service was running over because I needed to get home for the game or to the restaurant before the rush or whatever.
When I was in Texas recently I drove past the famous ‘drive-through’ church that offers a 30-minute worship service. In-and-out church for those on the go. I’ve read and heard that there are good things going on there – and that’s great – but I don’t think it is for me. For me, the music and worship part of the service is equally as important as the message or sermon. It is when I am often able to truly commune with God and experience worship in spirit and truth…and I like that to last as long as possible.
(Note: the pastor of the 30 minute church has totally legit reasons that I’ll post in the comments later – I don’t mean to criticize them specifically – rather I think we should look at our attitude towards church services and what it means to really worship.)
Many times in our church we truly experience the presence of the Holy Spirit and an anointing on the gathering of believers. This last Sunday there were prayers voiced before the service that we would experience some of heaven on earth that day and I believe it happened. It was awesome to be a part of it. I wish it could have gone on for hours longer, because I didn’t want to leave that place – sensing the power and presence of God while worshiping Him and putting our spiritual selves out there above and before the physical. That sense of heaven on earth depends on us and our condition and reaction to God’s presence more than what building we’re in or how long our service is or how many songs we do or who we’re worshiping with. We’re called to be worshippers and bring the Kingdom to wherever we are.
It dawned on me later in the day that I don’t think we are supposed to leave ‘that place’ at all. Our lives are not our own – we have been purchased at a very high price and saved from paying the penalties of our sin – we don’t deserve a bit of it but through God’s grace and Christ’s sacrifice our debts are paid. What other response could there be but to live a life full of worship, praise, and thanksgiving?
I know I am preaching to the choir to a certain extent, but in this case I think our choir has grown too silent and distracted to remember that we are a choir called out to magnificent purposes: to use our lives to praise the Creator, to bring His Kingdom here on earth as it is in heaven, to be the salt and light of the earth, and to join with the angels in singing God’s praises.
Whoa, still preaching I guess. Enough of that – time to worship Him – in whatever way connects your soul to His – whether it be singing or playing or writing or reading or jumping or running or meditating or dancing or painting or driving or anything – He’s made us all differently and it’s okay that we all have our different ways of worshiping and connecting to Him…He already knows that so let loose and be a worshiper.
I’m really done. Now go – you’ve stayed your hour.