Pentecost Restout 1732
  Pentecost Sunday – “Pentecost” comes from the Greek word pentekostos which translates as “fiftieth day.”  For Jews the day comes fifty days after the first Seder, and is associated with the Feast of Weeks, commemorating the giving of the Torah at Mt. Sinai.  For Christians Pentecost Sunday is observed the 7th Sunday (7-weeks – fifty days) after Easter, celebrating the day the Holy Spirit came to the church.  For comparable thoughts regarding the fifty days of Easter see a post by friend and colleague, David Manner.

Did this Sunday’s (June 8, 2014) worldwide Christian observance go unnoticed at your church?  For many evangelical churches it likely did go unnoticed and unnoted.  I am a lifelong Southern Baptist.  It has been said of we Southern Baptists that ours is an ecclesial tradition with a tradition of doing away with tradition.  Certainly, there are reasons to be given for pushing away from some practices.  I would argue, however, that celebrating major acts of God in the world by observing their anniversaries as high and holy is itself an act of worship. We could say more, but let’s save that for a more direct article for another day.  Rather, my desire here is to call to awareness the desperate need of all churches to rely afresh on the presence and power of the Holy Spirit in our worship as the sole source of life-giving, life-changing efficacy in our midst.  From the gathering of the church body to the reading and proclamation of the written Word to the response of believers and non-believers to that Word, and to the sending out of God’s people toward ministry and mission, all is dependent upon the unifying, illuminating, reconciling, and commission-empowering work of the Holy Spirit.  God convict us when we overlook our desperate need for Him in all we think, say, and do.  Biblical and historical references to the Spirit as wind, fire, water, air, and that which in fact gives and is to control our life and mind, all point us toward our desperate need of the Comforter, Convictor, Healer, Witness, Truth.

Why am I, a state convention worship music ministry leader, daring to step into this arena of discussion?  First, because surely it is only by the Spirit that we can worship the Triune God in the first place.  As I have noted previously, I fear too often in our day we attempt a unitarian rather than Trinitarian worship.  The sense of uni-directional worship contributes to my conviction of the level to which we in music ministry leadership have capitulated to consumerist-driven whims of church hoppers, church industry marketeers, and CEO-styled senior pastors seeking a corner on the church-going market, as a means of building our churches.  It concerns me that these submissions are often embraced as the means of correction to declining attendance and/or the way to evangelize, when the root of need in the church is a dependency upon the Holy Spirit, and renewed sensitivity to the Spirit’s direction.  I fear that often our tendency is to clever-up our speakers, contemporize our settings, or make our music sound like something we think outsiders want to hear, rather than to turn first to pray prayers of illumination, invocation, and intercession.  Often it seems our invention smacks of mistrust of the unseen Spirit.  Author, former pastor, and speaker, Francis Chan states:

The benchmark of success in church services has become more about attendance than the movement of the Holy Spirit.  The ‘entertainment’ model of church was largely adopted in the 1980’s and ‘90s, and while it alleviated some of our boredom for a couple of hours a week, it filled our churches with self-focused consumers rather than self-sacrificing servants attuned to the Holy Spirit.[1]

The same Francis Chan, who pastored a 4,000+ member church in California, walked away from the congregation and moved to China, expressing concerns that he had become “Christian famous,” noting that he heard his own name in his own church more frequently than he heard the name of the Holy Spirit.

Baptist theologian, Malcolm Yarnell states unequivocally, “The central meaning of Pentecost is that the Spirit has come upon the church, empowering believers for the ministry of proclamation.”  He goes on to note, “Conversion is not limited to the first disciples; conversion is the fruit of the disciples’ worldwide task of evangelism empowered by the Spirit.”[2]

Amidst gloomy reports indicating declines in church attendance in America, and even all-out departure from the faith, especially by young adults raised in evangelical environments, I am encouraged to hear some leaders calling for prayer.

            Holy Spirit, from creation’s birth,
            Giving life to all that God has made,
            Show Your power once again on earth;
            Cause Your church to hunger for Your ways.
            Let the fragrance of our prayers arise.
            Lead us on the road to sacrifice
            That in unity the face of Christ
            Will be clear for all the world to see.
                        –Holy Spirit, Living Breath of God
                        Words & Music by Keith Getty & Stuart Townend
                        ©2006 Thank You Music


[1] Francis Chan, Forgotten God: Reversing Our Tragic Neglect of the Holy Spirit, 15-16.

[2] Malcolm Yarnell, “The Person and Work of the Holy Spirit” in Theology for the Church, Daniel Akin, editor, 617.


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


  1. […] Do We Trust the Holy Spirit to Empower Our Worship? […]

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