[dropcap]T[/dropcap]he ability to bring dynamic worship to your church is not a great mystery. It comes from meeting the challenges that lie at the core of what congregational worship is intended to be and addressing the unhealthy predispositions and expectations we bring into the worship environment. How do we do that?
While the word investment can certainly be referring to monetary commitment, investment applies to any and all aspects of bringing ourselves before the Lord in worship. In my experience, one of the greatest hindrances to full, dynamic worship is a lack of personal investment by the leadership and/or the congregation. Some people substitute the word passionate as if it is the same as investment. I don’t believe they are equal terms. Passion by definition is usually driven by emotion and so the success of “passionate worship” may be predicated on an investment of emotion alone. While emotion can certainly be a high octane fuel for worship events, emotion can be fickle and easily lead to inconsistent experiences. “I don’t feel like it” is less likely to affect the invested in the same way that it may the passionate. Investment is a broader term that encompasses a more well-rounded approach to giving of oneself in the worship of God.
What are your leaders investing into worship?
There is a fundamental difference in core values between “working toward” something and “investing in” something. It is a fact that a worker is not necessarily an investor and investors are not necessarily workers. A dynamic combination is a worker who is invested. That invested worker, when in leadership, is a force that can contribute to amazing results. An invested worker lives out his or hers personal stake in the success of any endeavor. While a worker may diligently go about their duties, an invested worker thinks nothing of going the extra mile in order to ensure that the goals and objectives of their work are not only met, but exceeded if possible. A working worship leader may see their church as their “employer” and the director of their actions. In my experience the invested worship leader sees God as their ultimate “audience” for the worship that he or she plans and therefore nothing short of the best will ever do. That invested mind set then can comes across as passion, but it is a passion not rooted in pure emotion, but in a core desire to see the work of God glorified in every way and God receiving all of the credit in every act of worship.
What is your congregation investing into worship?
So many people come to worship with receiving as the primary goal. The reality is that worship is centered on giving. Some leaders believe that high levels of participation represent an invested, giving group of worshipers. Congregational participation should not be presumed to indicate investment on the part of worshipers. I have seen highly energized congregations whose passion for worship ends as soon as the service does. Just as the working/invested leader displays a higher level of engagement, the participating/invested congregation member demonstrates a higher level of engagement in all aspects of being a worshiper. Attendance, volunteerism, relationships with and toward others and a changed attitude outside of the worship event are much better indicators of a congregation that is invested in worship. This goes beyond trying to have the maximum number of people clapping and singing or taking notes during the sermon. If we are not teaching, training, and challenging our congregations to invest their whole selves in the worship of God and allowing that worshiping relationship to change them, then once again we are leaving out one part of the whole in the relational dynamic that is dynamic congregational worship.
The worship of the church will only become dynamic when it presents more than the work of the people. Our worship must present the invested heart of the people; both leaders and congregation. Both must be equally yoked to the task of bringing not just our praises before the Lord, but returning to God all that we are thanks to God. Next time, dynamic worship is forgiving worship.
Dr. Craig Gilbert is an experienced worship leader who is passionate about all aspects of congregational worship. With a graduate degree in conducting and a “road degree” playing in bands, Craig brings a love of all musical styles to his worship planning. In his 20 years of church worship ministry Craig has served in churches of all types, sizes and worship models. He has been blessed to serve with pastors of all types as well; even a Catholic priest! Craig is the founder of the worship renewal ministry TheWorshipDoctor.com.