Wednesday, May 16, 2007
In September of '06 I had the chance to take a good bit of my worship team from Temple, TX to the Enter Conference at New Life Church in Colorado Springs. This was an incredible experience on so many levels. The community that a team builds on a trip like this is invaluable, in addition to the training we received at the conference. There were some very practical sessions such as Rehearsing a Praise Band, Audio/Visual Techniques, Song Writing, Choir Leadership, etc. Even more valuable was to spend time in worship with 800-900 other worship team members from all over the country. I had never experienced worship with so many people being so focused and worshipful as this. It was as if everyone was truly there for a common purpose: to worship God and build a unity of spirit with other believers. The song kept coming to my mind; I Will Never be the Same Again, and I am not. This conference experience was truly a spiritual marker in my life and I am changed as a result.
Now, to worship the Lord so genuinely has its rewards, and when we ventured out to the Garden of The God (my title; it really is called the Garden of the Gods - but I know who really made it!) and experienced the glory and majesty of God's creation, it was even more sweet. It turns out that the time I spent hiking around in His creation, I found myself genuinely worshiping Him there, too. It was all so BEAUTIFUL! I told some of my team members that when God created Colorado, He was just showing off. In Romans 1:20, the Lord declares:
For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.
Well, I'll tell you this; I experienced the Lord in worship and I've experienced Him in is creation during that great week, and I need no excuse. He is more real to me now than ever before, and that is partially because of this experience that I had with my team in Colorado. If I was to recommend one conference for Worship Leaders and their teams, this is the one! Please check out the conference website here, and find a way to get there in 2007!
Tuesday, May 15, 2007
We had the opportunity to take a trip to the Saddleback Church in California(you, know, Rick Warren!) to attend a worship conference at the church back in the summer of 2005. The conference was amazing, but we also combined the trip into our family vacation and got to visit Disneyland, the beach, the aquarium, and other fun places. It was an amzing trip. Please check out the pics at www.peytonsincalifornia.blogspot.com. It was a great time!
Sunday, May 13, 2007
Deep worship that reaches the unchurched
by Rick Warren
At Saddleback we believe worship services can be deep, meaningful, and accessible to the unchurched. Your church members shouldn’t have to choose between whole-heartedly worshiping God and having a place where they can bring their unbelieving friends to have the Gospel presented to them.
When we speak of worship, we are talking about something only believers can do. Worship is from believers to God. We magnify God’s name in worship by expressing our love and commitment to him. And unbelievers simply cannot do this.
Here is the simple definition of worship that we operate on at Saddleback:
"Worship is expressing our love to God for who he is, what he’s said, and what he’s doing."
We believe there are many appropriate ways to express our love to God: by praying, singing, obeying, trusting, giving, testifying, listening and responding to his Word, thanking, and many other expressions.
God - not man - is the focus and center of our worship.
God is the consumer of worship
Although unbelievers cannot truly worship, they can watch believers worship. They can observe the joy that we feel. They can see how we value God’s Word and how we respond to it. They can hear how the Bible answers the problems and questions of life. They can notice how worship encourages, strengthens, and changes us. They can sense when God is supernaturally moving in a service, although they won’t be able to explain it.
When unbelievers watch genuine worship, it becomes a powerful witness. In Acts 2 – on the day of Pentecost – God’s presence was so evident in the disciples’ worship service that it attracted the attention of unbelievers throughout the entire city!
2007 Saddleback Church Worship Conference,
Whether you’re a worship leader, pastor, vocalist, instrumentalist, lead youth worshiper, song writer, or play any other role in developing a weekly worship service, this conference has something for you. Come, learn, experience, participate!
Acts 2:6 says, "... a crowd came together.” We know it was a big crowd because 3,000 people were saved that day.
Why were those 3,000 people converted? Because they felt God’s presence and they understood the message.
I believe both of these elements are essential for worship to be a witness.
God’s presence must be sensed in the service. More people are won to Christ by feeling God’s presence than by all of our apologetic arguments combined.
Few people, if any, are converted to Christ on purely intellectual grounds. It is the sense of God’s presence that melts hearts and explodes mental barriers. Worship without this yields few evangelistic results.
I believe there is an intimate connection between worship and evangelism.
In the first place, the goal of evangelism is to produce worshipers of God. The Bible tells us that "the Father seeks worshipers” (John 4:23). When we recruit worshipers, that’s called evangelism.
On the other hand, worship provides the motivation for evangelism. It produces a desire in us to tell others about Christ. The result of Isaiah’s powerful worship experience (Isaiah 6:1-8) was Isaiah saying, "Here am I, send me!” True worship causes us to witness.
Few people, if any, are converted to Christ on purely intellectual grounds. It is the sense of God’s presence that melts hearts and explodes mental barriers.”
In genuine worship God’s presence is felt, God’s pardon is offered, God’s purposes are revealed, and God’s power is displayed. That sounds to me like an ideal context for evangelism! I’ve noticed that when unbelievers watch believers relate to God in an intelligent, sincere manner it creates a desire to know God, too.
Worship with sensitivity
Because genuine worship can have such a profound impact on unbelievers, we need to be very mindful of their fears, hang-ups, and needs when they are present in our worship services.
This is the principle Paul taught in 1 Corinthians 14:23: Paul commanded that tongues be limited in public worship.
His reasoning? Speaking in tongues seems like foolishness to unbelievers. Paul didn’t say tongues were foolish but only that they appear foolish to unbelievers.
"So if the whole church comes together and everyone speaks in tongues, and some who do not understand or some unbelievers come in, will they not say that you are out of your mind?” (1 Cor. 14:23 NIV)
I believe there is a larger principle behind this advice to the Corinthian church. The point Paul is making is that we must be willing to adjust our worship practices when unbelievers are present. God tells us to be sensitive to the hang-ups of unbelievers in our services! Making our worship services accessible to the unchurched is a biblical command. I didn’t think up this concept – Paul did!
Making worship understandable
Making a service “comfortable” for the unchurched doesn’t mean changing your theology; it means changing the environment of the service – such as changing the way you greet visitors, the style of music you use, the Bible translation you preach from, and the kind of announcements you make in the service.
The message is not always comfortable. In fact, sometimes God’s truth is very uncomfortable! Still we must teach “the whole counsel of God.” Being accessible to the unchurched does not limit what you say but it will affect how you say it.
We must make both the worship and the message understandable.
At Pentecost, the Holy Spirit miraculously translated the message into words each person understood. The crowd of unbelievers said, “We hear them telling in our own languages about the great things God has done!” (Acts 2:11 NCV)
This caused them to be converted. Even though God’s presence was evident in the service, they wouldn’t have known what to do if they hadn’t been able to understand the message.
The unchurched are not asking for a watered-down message. The unchurched expect to hear the Bible when they come to church. They just want to hear how it relates to their lives. They can handle a clear, biblical message when it is delivered in terms they understand and in a tone that shows you respect and care about them. They are looking for solutions, not a scolding.
A clear message coupled with genuine worship will not only attract unbelievers, it will open their hearts to the power of the Gospel. As they feel God’s presence and understand the message they will walk away changed.
Until next week,