Here’s some suggestions for the kind of questions we can ask whether we’re worship leading or service leading. So much of navigating the presence of God is about pausing enough to keep checking in with Jesus and asking what He’s doing. This isn’t a process or formula – it’s just the beginning of recognising some of the opportunities to enquire of God amidst our gatherings.
The big picture
It’s important to see the time of worship in a service as not just the time of sung worship – there’s a period of crossover as we approach worship and as we move on – acknowledging that is really important for navigating through, and is a prompt to ask God what He’s doing at each junction.
There’s a beautiful dynamic that happens as we enter into worship that is pretty much always appropriate – to worship because of who he is and all he’s done – this is our ebenezer, our our stone of remembrance. Psalm 100 – We enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise. We are thankful when someone does something for us, and that’s our context. What God does for us are signposts to who he is; Jehovah Rapha – God our healer – Jehovah Jireh – God will provide – here’s a cool one, Jehovah Mekoddishkem – The God who sanctifies us! What He does helps us to build our theology – that’s why testimony is so important, it points to who God is. And so we praise. We declare, ‘This is our God’ – and we declare it from reality, not repetition; as a response to real life, not religion.
Identity and inheritance
When we see God for who He is, we then see who we are in Him. This interplay between his identity and our identity is a huge framework for worship – we can expect it to happen, and this gives us a chance to be specific and ask God what He’s doing and saying. In this context there can be a powerful release of inheritance. Just as the lost son returned home to a Father who virtually fell over himself to reinstate this rebellious boy as a son, not a servant – and place a ring on his finger, restoring the inheritance he thought he had squandered. Look for this dynamic in worship – it is naturally going to happen and sometimes people just need a little permission to embrace it.
During worship there’s a place we want to get to – It could be a moment in a song, a time of spontaneous singing (Tehillah), it could be silence. It’s the moment when anything can happen – where you can feel the weight of His presence – the Kabod (weight / glory / honour) I think it’s the moment where we cross over the threshold of just singing songs, and actually step into the mystery and awe of His presence.
We can ask Him for keys as we enter that place – That could be a song, a word, a scripture, an action – There may also be keys released for us as we move on, but most importantly, these things are really a bi-product of the main thing – Simply worshipping for the privilege of spending time with God and honouring Him.
Shall we pitch a tent?
It’s important to ask whether or not to pause / selah in that moment. Give time to God. Don’t rush away. Equally, don’t get stuck – sometimes, when we sense something special is happening, we focus on ourselves and not on God and worry that we might break it! Bring it back to Him and ask Him what He is doing in that moment. Don’t just try to pitch a tent for the sake of it, when God may be moving us forward or deeper.
If nothing else…
What’s the one place you want to get to? It may be a song, or a moment of a song. Be jealous for that. Cut other stuff out of the set to make time for it. Communicate well with service leaders your intensions – Often at the same time you’re arriving at the moment, God is speaking all over the room. People can be coming up to the service leader with words to share and if you’ve got a slow building song like ‘We will not be shaken’ and find that the service leader comes up just before the big build it lets all the air out of the arrangement. Problem is, unless you’ve communicated well, it’s going to be hard for them to know that was a bad time. Help everyone to arrive well, and facilitate the place of His presence by partnering with the service leader.
Don’t forget the one thing – unless God moves you away from it, ascertain what this time was about, and make sure people know it. Giving context to a time of worship makes it easier for a service leader to navigate the crossover. It’s another opportunity to ask God what he’s been doing and if it’s cool to move on.