Ezra 3:11…and they sang responsively, praising and giving thanks to the Lord, “For he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever toward Israel.” And all the people responded with a great shout when they praised the Lord, because the foundation of the house of the Lord was laid.
I pastor a wonderful, gifted and the often over used word but actually true in this case, “anointed” worship team. They are skilled in their craft. They know how to lead the congregation into worship. It’s authentic. It’s not hyped up. They lead by example, often by entering into worship rather than just singing or leading worship songs.
A couple of weeks ago, we had an amazing worship service. It’s not like our other Sunday services don’t have good worship, because they most often do, but there was a moment during our service where it felt like the heavens were opening up. It was one of those times where we were so in sync with God that nothing else really mattered. This one Sunday, I got the sense that we were supposed to do something different with worship. The set was incredible, but I had a song on my heart that I wanted us to sing as a congregation. I pulled the pastor card out and asked them to do a song that wasn’t well known to our team, not practiced beforehand and to do it without the music in front of them, strictly done from a far and distant world of hymnals years ago. I asked our worship band to lead us in “Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus.”
Our worship center is an older building designed for a capella worship. The worship leader and band started leading the song, but it was the congregation that became the worship leader. Everyone got to sing.
The glory of God filled our sanctuary.
There is something so beautiful about corporate worship. And this is what is being spoken of in Ezra. He had the incredible task of rebuilding the Temple in Jerusalem while they were in exile. God instructed them to put it together brick by brick, and then they were to follow it with praise. After the construction was completed, they all lifted their voices to God and proclaimed God’s goodness.
Singing songs on Sundays is so vital to our spiritual walk with God. Songs help to center us in God’s presence, and when it’s done in community, it is incredible.
I love congregational singing. It’s a gift from God, and it is always directed towards God. The gifts he gives us are for our edification, of course, but they’re always meant to be given back to him.
David Ruis, the great Vineyard worship leader and now director of Vineyard Canada, wrote in The Worship God is Seeking, “As we seek to cultivate the worship that God seeks, theology (knowledge of God and his ways) is essential. Our worship needs to be anchored to the unalterable and eternal truths of who he is and the impact of his advancing kingdom on the earth.”
Worship is about re-centering yourself in the presence of God. It isn’t an escape; it’s a foretaste of what’s to come when we are eternally with God.
Everyone gets to sing!
Often times, I will have sit-downs with worship leaders and the question will be asked, “Why aren’t people singing?” They will lament, “Sometimes, I feel like I’m up on the platform and looking across the valley of dry bones. Oh, can these dry bones live?” I normally respond, “Yes! They came to worship. It’s our privilege to create spaces where those dry bones come alive again with the presence of God.” Deep in our souls, we long to sing together. The church body is made for corporate worship. Let us not only allow, but also lead the church to sing to God, but also to sing with one another. That’s what happened on that Sunday morning, as we left the instruments and sang. God’s presence filled our dry bones with his Spirit.
So, put down the drum rods, turn down the amps, forget the lead breaks and let the congregation become the worship band.
Take a listen of what happened with the congregation became the worship band.
Everyone got to sing!