Note: Based on a devotional I wrote for my church choir, which is posted on Grace Notes
Last week I introduced you to Soulprint by Mark Batterson. I’m going to continue sharing some insights I’ve gleamed from his book today. Last week we specifically looked at what I called “Undignified Worship”, so let’s pickup where we left off…
I asked the following question: “Why are we so afraid to demonstrate our love, praise, and worship of God in physical actions?” and I also asked what it means to look desperate for Christ (remember the song we sang this morning?) This morning at my church we sange Breathe, which contains as it’s chorus, “And I, I’m desperate for you.” I found it ironic that as I stood up on the stage this morning and looked over the congregation there were a good number of people who actually did not sing that particular song (many who do normally sing), yet the song was one of the louder songs that was sung this morning by the congregation – even though fewer people sang! Now there are many reasons people won’t sing, including not knowing the song, and I’m not judging their choice to sing or not sing as right or wrong or good or bad. What I want to focus on is the physical posture people took as they sang (or didn’t sing) this song. There were people in the congregation with their hands up, others had their hands out in front of them with palms up, some were sitting, some had their eyes closed, and some just stared and looked forward.
While I can’t judge people’s hearts and attitudes in regards to the words they sang, I can ask the question, “Does your physical posture reflect the words you are saying (singing)?” And for some the answer will be “No”, and for some (but not all) of those whose answer is “No” the reason is fear.
Remember the reference last week to 2 Sam 6:22 when David was caught dancing in the street in response to the return of the Ark of the Covenant? Some people didn’t really appreciate how he demonstrated his excitement regarding what God had done for Israel – they even ridiculed him for it. Batterson writes,
“When you get excited about God, don’t expect everybody to get excited about your excitement. Why? Your intensity confronts their passivity. When you completely yield yourself to God, it convicts the unconsecrated by disrupting their spiritual status quo…After all, it’s much easier to criticize others than it is to change ourselves.”
Here’s the point… I have noticed a marked – and I mean a marked – transformation in my church choir over the past several months. We’ve spent a lot of time looking at what it means to worship individually and as a choir, moving towards becoming a worship leading choir instead of a performing choir (some of the devotionals I’ve written for the choir can be found by clicking here or here). They are beginning to truly worship during the service, at least when I can see see them (only the Call to Worship and choir anthem, since the rest of the time they are behind me as I lead my congregation). The looks on their faces as they sing communicates more about the message of Jesus than any words in any song I choose. When they look up (instead of down), when they smile (instead of frown), they communicate a love and passion for Jesus that goes beyond the words you say.
As choirs model worship for their congregations people will follow, and the same is true for worship leaders. Don’t be afraid to smile, get excited, or even raise a hand now and again. Put down the music/hymnal and don’t worry about singing in parts – just look up and sing the words. Let the congregation see a choir of worshiping musicians and not just a choir of performing musicians – for there is a huge difference. This whole worship thing starts with us.
Don’t be afraid to allow your posture to reflect your heart – even if it might seem a little uncomfortable at first. And don’t be discouraged if you don’t feel like people are following you. Remember whom you worship and sing for – and it’s not the congregation.
Here’s what I believe: as the choir leads in authentic, engaging, physically responsive worship, others will follow. And God will smile.