What did you expect?

“For: The Institue of Contemporary and Emerging Worship StudiesSt. Stephens UniversityEssentials Green Online Worship Theology Course with Dan Wilt.”

Why do we lead worship? I mean what are you aiming at as you lead worship? I always joke with my wife that all I want to do is make someone cry during worship.

For so long I have believed that I should be aiming to put God in front of the people using songs, scripture and pray and that little magical thing called “The Anointing” (please excuse the sarcasm). Then if God’s presence “manifests” then you have really struck the jackpot but that hardly happens, or at least in the churches I’ve worshipped or lead worship in. (maybe there is something wrong with me, but that just makes me normal doesn’t it?)

However I am starting to believe that there is more. Sure we must put God in front of the people because He is the focus of our worship, can I get an AMEN! Yes we also should pursue His manifest Presence; I live for those times when you realize that nothing else really matters. But what happens if by our worship leading we can usher in not only God’s presence but His Kingdom so that it becomes “real”, touching people’s hearts for sure but also changing circumstances, lifestyles, lives, bodies, situations etc?

So what am I talking about, all this “Kingdom” stuff. Well you know how we pray “Your Kingdom come, Your will be done”. Well imagine if our worship leading made God’s Kingdom come, not only inside the 4 walls of the church building but out in the ‘Burbs where we live, inner city, business where we work or the hospital/clinic where all the sick people are. What would that look like? How would it happen?

One thing I know is that this forces me to take His Kingdom and worship outside the 4 walls and that’s exciting. It speaks of more than just a nice times of sitting and soaking, which I absolutely love, but it means that after we are drenched in His presence we are invited to go outside and get a few people wet. It speaks of action and obedience which is so much more than just a setlist of songs.

This for me is a pretty loaded concept and something I am wrestling with so I’m really just asking a question and hopefully putting this up there on our radar screens.


7 thoughts on “What did you expect?

  1. It is a difficult one which I also struggle with in terms of how do I ask for the Spirit to be on me throughout the day. How can I constantly be drenched and also drench others?

    My understanding is that the Spirit’s purpose is to glorify Jesus, and to reveal the Truth, which is circular and the very same thing. The Truth is the glory of Jesus and the glory of Jesus is the Truth.

    Thus two things come to mind; that if we are declaring the glory of Jesus the Spirit must be on us, for the Spirit is the spirit of Truth. Not only that but by being enabled and active by and through this Truth, in the declaration and in active loving of people the Spirit comes upon us.

    You almost have to think backwards, that is worship Jesus, and ask for His Spirit to enable our hearts to truly worship him in humility and enable us to love one another (keeping his commandments). Thus it is knock-down humility, that we are unable to truly worship Jesus without the Spirit enabling us to do so, and by realising this Jesus is more glorified as we have no ground to boast in our own ability. It is a complete circle, we glorify Jesus -> Spirit enables us to the Truth of the glory of Jesus -> we glorify Jesus -> …

    Thus is then to lead worship to lead people to draw close to God so that the Spirit be given to them… yes, but for what reason, for themselves, of course in measure; but purposefully for the ability to glorify God in Jesus.

    “When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you. All that the Father has is mine; therefore I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you.” John 16:13-15

    “If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you.” John 14:15-17

    “Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him.” John 14:21

    “And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.” Acts 2:38-39


    1. Well put Mash, I often think about old Mephibosheth and the servant who would carry him to King David’s table each night so He could have supper with the King. In a sense the Holy Spirit picks us up, cripple as we are, to worship/eat at the Kings table.


  2. Amen. Just a couple weeks ago I was part of a group that was discussing this very thing, i.e. what does it mean to “lead” worship? Over the years I’ve become increasingly frustrated with the concept of worship as a glorified rock concert. This doesn’t mean that I’m against contemporary worship (necessarily), it just worries me that the medium itself opens the door to a potentially destructive emotionalism, where the end goal of worship becomes the kind of “event” or “high” that you described. I like how you brought in the concept of the Kingdom of God – that is really what this is all about, isn’t it? We’re citizens of that Kingdom, not this one. When the church gathers together to worship, we’re declaring our allegiance. We’re saying “this is who we are and what we do and Who we follow”. Then if we walk away from that declaration without living as citizens of the unseen Kingdom, there’s either something wrong with the declaration (that is, our chosen form of worship) or with us. Usually it’s the latter!

    One of the biggest reasons, in my opinion, why the emotional, performance-driven mentality of worship is so destructive, is because it encourages a kind of showmanship, which all too easily leads to arrogance and then judgment of others. The unspoken message often is “because I worship with such obvious emotion and physicality, then I am participating more deeply in this worship experience and am therefore a stronger Christian than you are”. Therefore I think you’re 100% correct in saying that the purpose of worship shouldn’t be to get people to cry to jump or raise hands or whatever (while at the same time not judging those that genuinely do), but to bring them to a deeper awareness of the Reality of God.

    Please tell Lucy I said hi. 🙂


    1. Totally agree, I think we often hide behind “excellent” performances and funky songs instead of acknowledging that there is very little real substance to our worship.


    2. I’m in agreement with all of you guys WRT performance driven worship “experiences” BUT.. 😉 (Dont get nervous guys) .. I am part of a church who takes a fair amount of critiscism because of the “style” (or vision set forth by the eldership rather) of worship which we encourage and enjoy. NOW, in the past it has been easy for me to look at what people are saying and see truth in their concerns and find substance to their argument AND THEN I can get myself into concern and contenplation over worship and whether we are on the right track or if we’ve “missed it” and all those things. BUT some wise old saint said something to me just recently which put my heart at ease over this whole thing and it hasn’t bothered me since. AND WHAT HE SAID WAS:
      We must remember that The Kingdom of God is perfect, and it’s awesome and it’s glorious, and its pure, and it is a 100% representation of who God is, but equally important to remember is that the church IS NOT the Kingdom of God – its the bride of Christ. And although God is building His church, and revealing and loosing his Kingdom amongst them – its still just the church – filled with all of us fleshy, red-blooded beautiful people.

      SO, as much as we desire to have the church reflecting as accurately as possible the Kingdom, we are still aliens for now, and subject to a degree to the fleshly nature. Thats why the bible talks about a tension – its the tension between our spirit being and our earthly embodiment. (very basically put)

      SO WHAT DOES THAT HAVE TO DO WITH WORSHIP? Often our best intentions when put into action can come out a little different to what we had hoped and longed for, right? And let’s be honest and come down from our little spiritual cloud for a moment and acknowledge our own weaknesses, and lack of maturity in certain areas, and all these things. Sometimes in worship, even true worship, a little bit of our humaness may come out, and some may be a little too emotuonal and super-spiritual, and loud, but let’s also acknowledge at the same time, that because of those things we cannot simply discount the entire worship gathering, or even the heart of the believer. In any relevant church there will be a demographic of brand new christians, growing and maturing christains, and mentors and fathers/mothers in the faith. And bits and pieces of all sorts will come out and be evident, but the worship of our King will go on. Those that need some chaping and moulding and guidance will get it, and they will continue to grow into the head which is Christ, and in time they will worship in a greater level of truth, and thats just part of discipling new and slightly skewed believers. 🙂

      There are tons of areas of church life where believers are poor/weak/pridful/mistaken in, PRAYER would be an example, but somehow we make less waves about them. But worship we are incredibly rigid about and often even judgemental of churches as a whole or specific people. (I point the finger at myself first) BUT GOD, BUT GOD, BUT GOD has been slowly shaping that earthly thinking out of me and releasing me from that stuff.

      AT THE END OF THE DAY ITS ALL ABOUT HOW GOD REVEALED WORSHIP TO US. Look at David, one of the pioneers of worship as we know it today. Man, he was extravegant, and he was skillful. I recon some of his worship exploits might have seemed pretty PRO and extreme to the onlookers.. YET God had good things to say about his efforts and his “style”.

      Some of the Hebrew translations for words used to explain old testament worship still scares and challenges even the most “charistmatic” of churches.. I encourage you to study up on it yourself and allow the word of God to shape and fashion your understanding and ultimately your approach to God through your worship.

      I hope this encourages us and causes us to rethink some of our thinks.. 🙂

      Much love. Lyle.


  3. Justin, When ever I think of the kingdom of God I am reminded that, “The kingdom of God is wherever God reigns.” If he is reigning in my heart while I am leading worship it affects my worship. I think it also affects those participating in the worship as well. I also I think that worship, at least for me the worship leader, prepares a person for prayer. The other night I lead worship to kick off a prayer meeting. I played two songs and prayed and boy did the church put legs to their worship. It was wonderful!


    1. Just to expand slightly on what you said there Bobby. As I understand it the Kindgom of God is Heaven. And yes, you are on the money, He certainly reigns in Heaven! But He not only reigns, but his RULE is in place too. Rule meaning, amongst other things, His ORDER.

      Now the way I understand it is that the Kingdom of God that we refer to is the “bringing down of Heaven” to earth while we are still here on it. Thats one of the glorious privileges which we as believers have while still here on earth.

      NOW getting back to your statement about if God is reigning in your heart then it affects your worship.. SPOT ON, but the other ingrediant, the RULE or ORDER of God needs to be there too. And when a few saints gather where the RULE and REIGN of the KING is “in them”, worship is spirit led and true. (I believe anyway).

      So often as believers we can acknowledge the REIGN of God over us – the fact that he is the KING, but his ORDER is far from us. In other words we are in sin, not obeying his commands and decrees etc etc.

      Even the demons acknowledge his REIGN, but they are outside of His ORDER – thay cannot align themsleves to him because they have pledged their allegence to another. (does that help to explain what I’m saying?)

      Let’s honour our God with ACKNOWLEDGEMENT but then also with OBEDIANCE, SUBMISSION, and SELF CONTROL and the Holy Spirit will descend and SETTLE on us and REMAIN. Because the Holy Spirit can settle and remain where there is KINGDOM RULE and REIGN. Where there is ORDER like that of where he came from – HEAVEN. 😉


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