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A Song Louder Than Singing

Bigstuf Live - Daytona 2010 - crowd shot from behind.jpg

I was listening to a conversation recently between a few youth pastors describing, “what we want for these kids.”
A lot of emphasis was placed on certain things and it got me thinking.
Especially when the question went to me.

But first a little explanation…

I have the privilege of singing, writing songs and leading worship for a living.
A lot of our travels (our = me & my band) consist of leading students, middle school through college, around the country.
We do concerts some, but many of the events are over a weekend, Fri night – Sun morning, with anywhere from 4 to 5 sessions.

A “session” can be made up of a variety of things… from current and edgy ways to engage an audience…. to things that are… eh… we’ll just say… less then current and far from the edge :)

And within each session there is the singing/worship part.
This is the time slotted for leading songs.  Not singing at people but inviting them to sing along.
These type of events are not staged like a concert necessarily, but can definitely have all the high energy moments and excitement that can come with a concert.

But typically it’s the band’s role to encourage those people attending to feel the freedom to sing.
And sing loud.
Boldly responding to who He is, what He has done for them and wants to do through them.

However…

Singing is not worship.
Worship is not singing.

Singing can be a part of worship, but our goal isn’t to motivate people to JUST sing loud.

And our aim isn’t to confuse them into thinking that singing loud equals “better” worship.

I say this because at times, a lot of emphasis is put on the volume level and visible response during worship.

Ever heard or said these kind of things? (guilty as charged)
     “How did you feel that went, did it feel like they were worshipping?” 
     “Wow! they were really going for it”
     “They weren’t really getting into the worship today”
     “That was incredible worship!”
     “These kids don’t know how to worship” etc…  

Even typing that out draws immediate attention to the point I’m about to make… I could just end here.
We say this stuff, but what is the real measure for a person “getting it” and worshipping?!?
Can we follow them around during the week to see how they are living?

The stuff we can measure in the moment, can be tempting to equate as more effective or powerful.
However, the REAL goal is to focus a session in a way that inspires a LIFE of worship.

Fill up a room with thousands of the best singers, singing every word, filled with emotion, hands lifted, dancing around and all you may have is an American Idol audition in the end.

Truth is, you can do all the above and STILL get it all wrong.
Because in the end, worship is more then songs.

I read this once and it stuck with me, “When your life matches the lyrics, you are truly worshipping”
As if to say, singing words on screens doesn’t equal worship.

For example:  Does my wife know I love her cause I buy her a valentine’s day card once a year?   Of course not.

Similarly, just because we go through the motions on the given day (Sunday) to sing to God, we can be tempted to think that was enough and God is happy with us.
Sounds silly to think, but our actions sometimes would suggest we think it’s true.

The definitions of worship are endless here and I won’t even attempt to quote John Piper…
okay maybe just one quote:

“God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him”

It’s more about a life expressing joy and gratefulness, satisfied in Him and burning brightly for others to see.
The hope in every event we do, is that people will make this connection and trust in God for what He desires for them.

Which leads us to THE question.

“What does God desire for them?”

The answer is… we don’t know for sure… at least not everything for every person.
But there are several things His word makes clear that we can use to encourage their direction:
   – Love God with all you got… heart, soul, strength and mind (Luke 10:27)
   – God can be trusted (Prov. 3:5-6)
   – His love far out-weighs anything you’ve ever done wrong (Romans 8:35-39)
   – Your life is not your own, so You can loosen your grip & surrender it (1 Corin. 6:19-20)
   – Your worship will never be greater then when you’re loving & serving others (John 13:35)

To be clear, I love building set lists that have a flow to them, building from song to song, submissive to the Holy Spirit’s moving,while allowing moments to reflect and engage with God.

It’s incredible the stories that have surfaced over the years during these moments.
But the desire is again, not to create a supercharged emotional experience that begins and ends in that moment alone.

I count it a HUGE privilege and joy to do what I do.  I’m always humbled how God lets me do this at all.
But in the end, it’s so much more then pep-rallies and getting people to sing loud.

We carry the hope of the Savior of the world and He wants a relationship with us!!
That’s what HE wants… and so that’s what we want for those we are leading.

A song louder then singing.

All eyes on Jesus.  Engaging with Him and letting the Holy Spirit do what only He can.

That they would put ALL their trust in Him, not willing to settle for what the world offers, but desiring to experience the life HE made them for… that’s our hope and that’s something worth singing about!