In the book Worship Essentials, I talk about a value that is present in a community of believers that have a “come and sacrifice” view of worship instead of a “come and see,” experience. Let me explain:
A “Come and See” experience in worship is focused on the platform – the music and visuals are finely produced, the choices made around singers, players, lighting, set design, and more are all intended to present the worship in the very best way possible, no matter what. I would agree that we should do everything we can do to make sure we do our very best in how lead worship.
A “Come and Sacrifice” experience focuses on the engagement of the congregation. They aspire for excellence, but only as a means to an end – and that end is a community of believers responding to the revelation of God with corporate worship and commitment. These worshippers come and give their sacrifice of praise at church instead of merely observing the worship of the leaders.
In an effort to control the quality of the “come and see” worship experience, I’m afraid we may have lost something. And, that something is the power of the spoken word. When is the last time you heard someone testify to God’s goodness and provision at church?
Yes, there are dangers with testimonies in worship. A person could take too much time – they could ramble or share something confusing or worse, un-biblical. It is scary to a leader when an unplanned moment of testimony happens at church, especially if the person sharing has a track record. But, does that mean we should never allow those moments in worship?
Last Sunday, I was reminded how powerful testimony can be. As the choir was gathering in the choir room for the second service, our worship pastor called on someone to share something that God had done in her heart in the earlier service. She shared the story of how God used the lyric we were singing to help her release a heavy burden she had carried for many years. While she shared, I was struck again at how powerful testimony can be in worship.
Why is the personal testimony so powerful? Because in sharing it, the person is telling the rest of the church that God is loving and faithful. That his word is right, that his promises are true. After she had shared, people lined up to say how much the testimony meant to them. I would venture to guess that the testimony shared in choir was the worship highlight of the day for a bunch of people. I know it was for me.
Give it some thought. See if there is a way you can get the saints sharing again. It just might be a catalyst for a move of God among your people.
And then, everyone would have something they could talk about at church.
Mike Harland is the Director of LifeWay Worship. When he’s not directing 30+ employees, you’ll find him leading worship at various churches around the country, writing/arranging worship songs and/or, writing his next book. In his spare time, he loves playing basketball and spending time with his family. Mike can be found on Twitter @MikeHarlandLW and on facebook.com/Mike.Harland.37.