In many church services, we place a large emphasis on worship, making sure the set list is coherent and flows, practicing the music, getting transitions down right, and so on. Worship music can seem like “the” way to worship when it comes to the spiritual practice of connecting with and giving reverence and praise to God.
As the worship director of Southeastern University it is part of my job to oversee the worship music that happens in four chapel services each week. Our student-led teams lead amazing, life transformational worship. Overseeing worship at the university is more than just what happens during our chapel services. I have to continually be mindful to teach students what true, holistic worship to God is.
Some people really connect with God through modern worship music experiences, some people do not, and that’s a good thing!
I’ll never forget something my theology professor explained to me my senior year at Biola University. He opened my mind to the idea of what he called “God’s good pleasure.” Citing Phillipians 2:13, “For it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure,” he would say “Have you ever felt it? Have you ever felt God being pleased with you as you take part in one of your favorite pastimes?”. It is through this passage we begin to understand that God takes pleasure in His creation working in the gifts, abilities, and activities that He has given us. God is a good father, wanting to give us good gifts. When we truly enjoy something in Jesus’ name, God is being worshipped. This is “God’s good pleasure.”
Lately, as I’ve been getting into running half-marathons, I have found myself connecting to God during my runs more than I have been in my daily bible reading. Is this ok? Does this really count as worshipping and connecting with the creator? It may just be that. . .
What you may have once thought as a distraction from God, may be a avenue to connect with Him.
Some athletes might feel closer to God on the field than they ever would in a church service. Some musicians might find God more in their musical performance than they ever will in the third song of a worship set. Some Christians connect with God more through reading and learning than they do from hearing a sermon. I have things that I am passionate about, things that make me feel alive and in the will of God, that do not regularly show up on your standard list of Christian spiritual practices. We cannot forget that He is the creator of all things. Our life passions have been given to us by God for God. Worship him with your craft, your hobby, your discipline. God is taking pleasure in it whether you know it or not. By being mindful of God and prayerful in our crafts, hobbies, and disciplines, we might find that God is ready to meet with us in new and unexpected ways.
However, this does not mean that we give up on things like prayer, singing songs to God, reading our Bible, meeting with our community at church and being pastored, or so on. It means that God is ready to meet with us in more ways than we may have ever thought!
You may or may not relate to modern church worship music, but it’s good for you to participate. You may feel like, for a time, that your Bible readings and devotions have lost the luster and connection to God they might have once had. Yet, that does not mean we should not pursue God in these ways! St. John of the Cross’ poem, “Dark Night of the Soul”, reminds us that in the times where our prayer, reading, and worship seem to not connect with God, God is there and calling us to mature in our ways of worship, to grow with God even when we can’t “feel” it.
You know what is “chicken noodle soup” for my soul? Singing worship songs when I don’t feel like it. I’m in every chapel service at Southeastern. It is part of my job. Singing worship can get really old, really fast. However, there is something so powerful about speaking or singing not only to God but to our flesh! Make a habit of letting your spirit speak to your flesh. We need to worship God with our minds, with our voices, and in the day to day activities that he has given us to enjoy with Him. Worship, true worship, calls us to,
worship God when you feel like it and worship God in everything we do (even when we do not feel like it).