I blogged earlier this year about two acceptable definitions of worship — one being “a bowing and bending of the knee,” the other being “labor and service.” I believe that when we are adequately prepared in our labor and service, we are more able to bow the knee. Here’s what I mean:
At my home church in Pennsylvania, our worship team decided to try something a little risky, inviting all of our vocalists to join us on stage every week (five weeks straight) for one month. What is risky about that is that we’ve only had the larger vocal group sing twice this year, both involving a decent amount of planning, communication and two rehearsals each; but both occasions with energy-raising results. This new plan, however, involved NO rehearsals except for about 50 minutes on Sunday morning before Sunday School. And even more crazy was the fact that we invited those people who absolutely could NOT attend that rehearsal to walk up on stage during the service and sing anyway.
The emphasis has not been on how well the harmony sounds or making sure we cut off our words at the same time, but on leading the observing congregation in worship by our body language, our faces mirroring the words we sing and our voices lifted boldly before the Throne.
Now, my wife was one of the singers who, because of our children, was unable to attend the Sunday morning rehearsals but truly wanted to sing. The responsibility was therefore on her to learn the songs and come prepared, but even though she kept the music on repeat in the house throughout the week, there was still one song that she was less familiar with than the others. She is new to the “singing worship songs on stage” concept and was nervous about whether she’d be able to truly worship (bowing the knee so to speak), knowing that everyone was looking at her. She told me afterward that with the three songs she knew well, she was able to engage her whole heart and mind on the object of her praise while she sang, but that one song she was less familiar with, she had to disengage and focus on remembering the words, melody and when or when not to sing!
I believe what she did during that fourth song was a sort of sacrifice of praise in the sense that in order to not distract the congregation she was leading; she chose to ensure she was performing the song properly. Therefore, that could fall under the category of worship that involves labor and service. But her spirit was moved more when her worship of labor and service was matched by her worship of bowing the knee because she was well prepared!
I can say the same for songs that are new to me, when I am leading and am ill prepared, I struggle to remember the tempo, the chords, the melody, the roadmap … how in the world can the congregation view me worshiping our Savior when I’m struggling to remember how the song even goes? Unless I can fake it really well … which is something I don’t aspire to do.
For the good of our own hearts, for the good of our congregations, for the offering we’re presenting, let’s do our best to come prepared to worship, no matter what we’re preparing to offer.
Courtesy of CCM Magazine November 2011 pg. 38 written by Aaron Shust