Learning to Love and Lead Jesus-Saturated Worship
One of the things I’ve always appreciated about our family of churches is the worship. And by worship, I’m not just talking about singing a few songs in a meeting. I’m talking about sons and daughters of God reveling in the glorious wonder and grace of our Savior Jesus Christ!
At Christ Church (Corvallis, OR), we feel God is leading us to invest in this area by helping to train and equip people in leading Jesus-saturated worship. So in the fall of 2018, we hosted Captivated, our first regional worship training conference here in the Northwest. Yes, that means lots of coffee, flannel, down jackets, and all the other stereotypes you might expect. But it also included compelling biblical teaching on the glory of God and the heart of a worshipper—what you might call the why of worship—as well as practical workshops for things like vocals, guitar, worship leading, songwriting, etc.—what you might call the how of worship.
Here are a few highlights from Captivated 2018.
The Substance of Worship
When Jesus was asked a question about the proper forms of worship, he famously responded, “True worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth.” (John 4:23) Worship is not primarily about a particular place, a popular song, or a style of music. Jesus-saturated worship is founded upon truth—for he is the truth—and the tangible presence of his Spirit in us, giving us both access to him and great delight in him.
The difficulty comes when we have one without the other. You probably don’t have to think too hard to picture both extremes. You’ve likely experienced them at some point. On the one side there is truth-only worship. You know, lots of lyrics and difficult to remember melodies. And while truth is absolutely critical, worship is not simply telling God about Himself, but rather, delighting in the truth of who he is and all that he has done. On the other side there is emotionally-centered worship. The danger on this side is having lots of passion but very little substance.
However, genuine worship does not settle for an either-or approach. Jesus-saturated worship is both theologically rich and emotionally responsive. It celebrates profound truths, such as receiving the Spirit of adoption as God’s children. Wow! We should ponder this truth and all of its amazing implications.
But this truth also causes us to cry out in jubilation, “Father, we love you!” (Romans 8:15) It is precisely this truth that stirs us to a deep emotional response of affection. A reading through Psalm 119 will give us a great picture of this. It is dripping with God’s word and truth, yet defined by great delight. It is weighty and deep, yet it causes the heart to soar with joy and burst out in worship. Give it a read and see for yourself.
This is the substance of worship: God in His glory, stirring a genuine response of joy and delight that transcends the forms we may employ. He is the object of our worship. Everything else — songs, music, and the like — are simply vehicles we use to help us see him.
The Craft of Worship
The psalmist encourages us to, “Sing to him a new song; play skillfully on the strings, with loud shouts.” (Psalm 33:3) While playing skillfully will never bring about genuine worship on its own, it is an area we shouldn’t neglect or simply leave to the professionals.
In our current cultural landscape, there is an abundance of incredibly talented musicians and worship teams. First of all, this is a huge blessing! Learn from them and use their songs. However, there is danger falling into comparison and not developing your own gifts simply because there is someone more talented or there are better songs out there already. Ephesians 4:7 says, “Grace was given to each one of us according to the measure of Christ’s gift.” So the goal of playing skillfully for the Lord is not about getting on par with others, but being faithful to develop the grace that God has given us to play, sing, write songs, etc.
This is the motivation behind having practical hands-on workshops to train and grow. There are talented musicians and great worship leaders in our churches who may not have been discovered or developed yet. You may be one of them! Let us strive to recognize and grow in the grace that God has given us.
The Future of Captivated
The vision for Captivated is to paint a picture of the grace and beauty of Jesus Christ in such a way that an invitation to worship would be found quite irresistible. We hope to encourage, challenge, and equip worshipers to grow in the grace that God has given them. It was truly a blessing to partner together with the Confluence churches in the northwest, and we look forward to seeing the ways this conference might expand in the future.