The second phase (of worship) is the engagement, which is the electrifying dynamic of connection to God and to each other. Expressions of love, adoration, praise, jubilation, intercession, petition – all of the dynamics of prayer are interlocked with worship – come forth from one’s heart. In the engagement phase we praise God for who he is through music as well as prayer. An individual may have moments like these in his or her private worship at home, but when the church comes together the manifest presence of God is magnified and multiplied. John Wimber
Our Theme: ON WORSHIP.
To Wimber, who was a musician at heart, it just wasn’t good enough to sit in a pew, listen to a piece of worship music, and not engage with it. That’s why it was so painful for him to visit a church and find the leadership team using worship as some form of entertainment or as a warm-up for the pastor’s sermon.
Thank goodness this doesn’t happen everywhere, but during my days working with Promise Keepers, I visited a church where it was customary for the lead pastor to use the worship time to review his sermon notes, making any last-minute changes before stepping up to the podium. When I asked someone about that, the answer was that the senior pastor enjoyed using the presence of God that comes during worship as the perfect time to get his final thoughts together on what God wanted him to share. Now, at first glance, that sounded like a reasonable answer, but then I remembered what Wimber used to say about engagement in worship:
Engagement = the electrifying dynamic of connection to God and to each other.
Let’s be gut-honest here. Worship is not a tool to get us somewhere. Worship is not a mechanism to get God to do something for us. Nor should worship be used as an avenue of entertainment, designed to woo a crowd!
As I see it, worship is for and about God. And not us. Period! It’s his time, not ours. So when it’s time to worship, isn’t it our responsibility as followers of Jesus to forget about ourselves, our egos, our stuff, and engage with him?
I kind of think that Wimber got this engagement in worship thing primarily because he was a musician at heart. Musicians, you see, believe that music, along with all of the creative arts, begs us to be engaged. And when it’s worship music, how much more are we called to stop what we’re doing, yield our wills and minds to him, and jump feet first into the presence of God?
No spectators please! Just willing participants ready to engage with the Holy God of the Universe.
Oh yeah, I know. The excuses abound. I use ‘em at times myself…
- “I just don’t like the song the band is playing.”
- “I just can’t get myself into it today.”
- “The worship leader is singing a bit flat.”
- “My mind is caught up in my countless troubles.”
- “I just had an argument with my spouse on the way to church. ”
- “Blah. Blah. Blah.”
Countless reasons to not engage, but only one reason we must: he’s God. We’re not!
Louis Armstrong was a great jazz musician. One night, while visiting New York City, some of Armstrong’s friends decided to take him to the opera. Being a black jazz trumpeter from New Orleans, opera was not something Armstrong had been exposed to over the years. After the first act, one of his friends asked him what he thought of the opera thus far. He leaned back in his seat, rolled his eyes, and said, “Well, I’ll tell ya, my friend…opera is not my thing, but lookin’ at those musicians on the stage and seein’ how much they’re enjoyin’ it, I just gotta believe that just because I ain’t receivin’, don’t mean those cats ain’t sendin’!”
As I see it, worship is going on night-and-day in God’s presence. For him, there are no commercial breaks, bathroom breaks, or breaks at all. Worship is happening 24-7, 365, forever and ever, amen. The only question that we are faced with is whether or not you and I will actively choose to engage with that worship, or will we allow lesser things to pull us away?
So the next time you or I find ourselves sitting in a church service or small group and someone is up there on the stage doing their very best to lead you and me into worship, I suggest that we do like Louie Armstrong. Go right back into the second act, choosing intentionally to engage with Jesus, the lover of our souls!
Father, my prayer is that I will never be so cold-hearted or flat-footed that I fail to answer the call to fully engage: mind, soul, spirit, and body into worship the very next opportunity I get! You are worthy of my praise whether I feel like worshipping or not. Holy Spirit, give me the precious gift of holy engagement in worship. For your name’s sake. Amen!
QUESTIONS FOR YOU TO PONDER
- How have I become dull or disinterested when it comes to corporate worship?
- Have I allowed an ‘oh-hum’ attitude to overtake me or, worse yet, do I use worship for other purposes? If so, what needs to change on my inside so that I can restore my intentional acts of engagement in worship?
So, what is God speaking to you today as you ponder the Wisdom of Wimber?
Between Easter 2016 and the end of August, we are sharing with you a blog series we call The Wisdom of Wimber: As I See It. In order to keep all 64 blog sessions organized, we suggest you bookmark our Wisdom of Wimber page for ease of use. Might we also suggest that you order a copy or two of our book by the same title! It’s available in both paperback and e-book formats…and will soon be available in Spanish! Click here for more info. ENJOY!
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