In his best-selling book, “The Purpose Driven Life,” Rick Warren shares how Matt Redman was inspired to write the song, “The Heart of Worship.”
Mr. Warren wrote just one little paragraph about
Redman’s church in England banning all music in their worship services for a period of time. After I read that one small paragraph (on pg. 106 of Warren’s book), I wondered what it must have been like for that church. Then, yesterday I heard the song on the radio and the announcer
retold the same story. I decided I wanted to know more about a church that would ban all music in order to find its way to worship.
Redman’s church, Soul Survivor, is in Watford, England. The pastor, Mike Pilavachi, asked his congregation: “When you come through the doors on a Sunday, what are you bringing as your offering to God?”
Mr. Pilavachi was so concerned about Soul Survivor’s struggle to find meaning in its worship, especially the music used in its worship, that he did a pretty radical thing. He banned music — for a season — at Soul Survivor.
Pastor Pilavachi pointed out that Soul Survivor has lost its way in worship. He said the way to get back to the heart of worship was to strip everything away and start over. So, the sound system was soundly removed.
The band was disbanded, silencing the drums, guitars and the tambourines.
Not one note was hummed, sung, or played.
Redman relates that at first, the situation brought nothing but embarrassing and uncomfortable silence. It was not long, however, before people broke into spontaneous a cappella singing. He also noticed that the prayers of the people seemed more emotional, more heartfelt, more real somehow. It seemed as if Soul Survivor began encountering God in a fresh way.
“Before long,” Redman says, “we reintroduced the musicians and sound system, as we’d gained a new perspective that worship is all about Jesus, and he commands a response in the depths of our souls no matter what the circumstance and setting. ‘The Heart of Worship’ simply describes what occurred.”
Redman wrote “The Heart of Worship” quickly in his bedroom. He did not intend for the song to be viewed for nothing more than it was – his personal response to what he was learning about worship.
So, what does this mean for us? It’s simple, really. When the music fades and all is stripped away, how are we worshipping? What of worth are we bringing to worship? How deep within is our search for worship?
Jesus said, in John 4:23 – 24: “A time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth.”
Worship is not dependent on pianos, organs, guitars, drums, choruses, hymns, clapping hands, hands raised in unison, toe-tapping tempos, sentimental favorites, standing, sitting, video projections, hymn-books, or “all that.” All that may be present in worship, of course. But our worship should involve all that, rather than using all that to try to stimulate our worship.
Worship is personal. Worship is mysterious and wondrous, reverent and respectful, spontaneous and undignified, peaceful and powerful. Worship involves times of quiet and times of shouting, times of listening and times of confessing, times of prayer and times of praise. Worship is an expression of what we think and feel about God. Worship is what we do in honor of God’s love and mercy for us. Worship is our spirit responding to God’s spirit.
It IS time to get back to the heart of worship. It IS time to remember that worship is all about Jesus. Jesus is the Worthy Lamb that was slain for our sins (Revelation 5:12). Jesus is the author and perfecter of our faith (Hebrews 12L2). Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life (John 14:6). Jesus is God’s one and only, one-of-a-kind son (John 3:16). Jesus is our Emmanuel, our God with us (Matthew 1:23).
So, let’s worship using the words of Redman’s song: “I’m coming back to the heart of worship, and it’s all about you, Jesus.”
Worship – it’s our way to tell God the story of our faith.
Laugh Lines appears the first and third Saturday of the month. For booking information, Verna Davis may be reached at (765) 832-8078 or at Vrdwrites@cs.com.