WORSHIP – INSPIRATION OR PERSPIRATION

Is worship something done by inspiration or does it take perspiration?  In my estimation it is like other tensions with which we not only contend, but which we must embrace.  In other words, I believe the answer is “yes” worship is both inspiration and perspiration.  It is also my contention that worship planners and leaders must maintain a healthy balance in the preparation process and in the intended direction of the experience of gathered worship itself.  It is important for worshipers to know that while we wait upon the Lord to speak and yes, inspire, we engage mind and spirit in the praying and singing of worship (1 Cor 14:15).   In fact, remembering as we have been instructed by Christ Himself involves remembrance of His mighty acts.  This is some of the “work” (leitourgia) of worship.  As worship planners we are often thrilled by an insight that comes in a moment when we have been touched through our senses, but that does not automatically mean that whatever “floats my boat” belongs on the lips, or in the eyes of the congregation I lead.  Part of our work (perspiration) is discernment by  theological and even artistic filtering.

 

I started to write this article in response to the mounting workload that I perceive being carried by most music ministers/worship leaders, and especially the glut of technical demands that have been hoisted on the same.  I have observed over the last decade(s) that worship ministry in most settings demands much more technical prowess (video, computers, presentation software, even clicktrack formulation as well as useage, etc., etc.) and much less time spent on the art of music and its application in worship.  This trend disturbs me, especially in the realms of choral art, and congregational singing.  Either and/or both of these areas appear to be the resource pool most readily robbed when time is needed to learn a new software, shoot slick videos, and learn more new songs.  Most of these activities are done in the name of being “relevant” to culture.  Over and again we are reminded in scripture as well as in the history of the Church that this is a slippery slope.  Cultural relativism does not come without heavy baggage.  Biblical wisdom in our day surely enlightens us and warns of the centrality of self to which our culture has drifted.  As far back as Augustine he recognized that human beings are incurvatus in se which means curved in upon themselves.  Such is the very core value system of our most popular television shows like American Idol, The Voice, and many more.  Just because a contestant or two have served as worship leaders somewhere and have a shot at winning this contest should never baptize the core value system of a show’s process.  Part of our work in worship is likely reflected in Paul’s confessional with which we can and must relate in Romans 7:15, 18-19.  So, in these things the question is not whether or not we will work – at preparing to lead worship as well as work in or at our worship itself – it is more a question of what we will be working at doing.  My concern is that we have worked so hard at making worship “relevant” to culture that what we have in fact done is made culture by way of “relevancy” the object of our worship.  This is surely idolatry.

 

While worship and worship preparation includes a strong dose of work (perspiration), it is surely fueled through those glimpses of Holy Spirit inspiration.  The light we so need and desire may come via the slow steady burn of the candle seared into our spirit through regular reading (and hearing) of the Word.  This revelation of God (inspiration) may come in a flash of shekinah glory, while worshiping with God’s people, while ministering in His Name, or while simply relishing at the work of His hands in nature, time, human love, or signs He has given to point us to Himself.

 

It is healthy for us to pray for inspiration and maintain a watchful eye for its entrance, while at the same time applying perspiration to worship planning and to worship itself, and all to the glory of God Himself.  There is a reason they call it “practicing your faith.”  Let us be found faithful.

 

Explore posts in the same categories: Choir Ministry, Church Music, Congregational Singing, Leading Worship, Music Ministry, Private Worship, Singing Worship, Spiritual formation through singing, Worship Leaders, Worship Pastors, Worship Reminders, Worship theology, Worship thoughts

3 Comments on “WORSHIP – INSPIRATION OR PERSPIRATION”


  1. I always appreciate a great article or piece of writing. Thanks for the contribution.

  2. Bob Grammer Says:

    And so then, what are we to be, all things to all people in order get all people within the doors of the church, or a group of folks struggling to express adoration, thankfulness, and deep joy in as rich and meaningful a manner as we can achieve? Thank you, Paul, for your thoughtful writing and sincere ministry.


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