This article is part of a series; read part 1.
The 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?
If Dynamic Worship is defined as an interactive, life changing event, then it must be connected to all of the participants in every way. We can all struggle at times to design worship services that clearly connect all of the parties involved. Who are these parties and how are they connected?
Connected to God
Believe it or not I have attended worship services where I was not sure who or what we were actually supposed to be worshiping. Non-specific language, vague suggestions, even no direct (or sometimes even indirect) references to scripture, can all muddy the water around the purpose of the worship event. All Christian symbolism may be removed from the environment making it difficult to distinguish where we are and what we are supposed to be doing. I have experienced this done intentionally according to some church leaders so as not to offend, confuse, or otherwise alienate the un-churched or nominal believer who might be in attendance. We can do it unintentionally with our words and actions. One example may be when we almost exclusively refer to God, Jesus, or the Holy Spirit by capitalized pronouns such as You in the lyrics of our songs. This is easier to do than you might think and I have more than once come to the realization that I scheduled a slate of songs for a service that never included the proper names of God for the people to sing and declare, merely capitalized pronouns. The Bible says there is power in the name of our God, which I am not convinced is the same as the capitalized pronoun referring to our God used in so many of our songs.
Our worship must proactively and regularly declare our intentions to God and connect our actions in worship to the initiating actions of God’s work in all of creation. Only by making this connection perfectly clear can we hope to establish the type of relational connection we seek by being in God’s presence at God’s invitation.
Connected to Each Other
I believe that there is a biblical mandate for worship to be God focused and at the same time connecting the gathered body of Christ together in the presence of God. Dynamic worship is relational and the relationship of the people together under the eyes and direction of God is just as important as our foundational relationship with God. We call this Vertical and Horizontal worship. Christ said that we are to love God, and likewise, love each other. Our time spent in the presence of God should reflect this commandment. In order to be dynamic, our worship must give us opportunity to learn and grow with our brothers and sisters in Christ, not in spite of them or exclusive of them. Many of us have incredible worship services of time spent focused on God with little or no recognition that we do so in unity with those around us. Dynamic worship does not just impact inside the walls of the church. It goes forth to all of creation bringing the love of God and the truth of Christ to all. If we are not learning to love our Christian brothers and sisters in worship, how can we ever expect anyone to bring that love to those who actively oppose Christ?
The next article in this series will continue to look at creating dynamic worship opportunities through invitation.
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.
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Dr. Craig Gilbert, a consultant and coach fondly known as The Worship Doctor, is the founder of Purposed Heart Ministries, a worship renewal and education program for all churches. Craig 25 years as a music and worship minister working with choirs, bands, and various artistic groups while leading and designing worship in churches of all sizes and styles. Now he spends his time helping churches across the country imagine what worship could and should be in their local context and then helps them get there!