|Sterling State Park, Monroe|
I've had many beautiful, touching worship experiences in my life. Sometimes it's happened when I've been alone, sometimes with a small group of people, sometimes in large group settings. The real worship thing happens, which is 100% about God and his presence. For me this never has to do with how good the worship musicians are, or even if there are worship musicians.
One example was when I was preaching in Kurnool, in central India, in an old church building on the Deccan plateau, before a thousand people. There was no worship band. I am not against worship bands. It's just that they are unnecessary for worship to happen. In this falling-apart church building in India, one man was leading the people in a worship song. It was in the Telegu dialect. The singing was repetitive, and went on for a long time. In the middle of it, it happened. God happened. And in my heart, I was worshiping. I was caught up in God's presence, 100%.
David Platt writes: “What if we take away the cool music and the cushioned chairs? What if the screens are gone and the stage is no longer decorated? What if the air conditioning is off and the comforts are removed? Would His Word still be enough for his people to come together?” (Radical)
In some churches it might not be. When all is stripped away, few would simply come.
How in the world did the early church make it, being not only without awesome media, but lacking funds for whatever the latest post-flannel-graph technology was?
The answer would be: the early church thrived because God was with them. They had God and His presence and His power and His voice and His love and His guidance and His correction and His grace and mercy, experientially.
This is stripped-down worship, the heart inside the body, the core within the container, the engine in the framework, the software mediated via the hard drive.
It's Monday morning. The sanctuary is empty. I'm at home, and it's quiet.
When the music fades,
and all is stripped away,
and I simply come.
My recent book is Praying: Reflections on 40 Years of Solitary Conversations with God.
My book Leading the Presence-Driven Church will be published this summer.