SOME PRACTICAL INPUTS
November 7, 2011
Worship is at the core of our life as CFC-FFL. We worship during our personal prayer time, at our household meetings, at prayer assemblies, at conferences and at other community events. We live a lifestyle of worship.
This paper provides practical inputs on certain aspects of worship. It is a supplement to the book “Worship.” It will help us enter into the lifestyle of worship as a community.
Leader’s exhortation to worship
To start communal worship, the worship leader exhorts the people to worship. Such exhortation is not a talk or teaching, and not an extended personal sharing. Though there could be aspects of sharing or teaching, the purpose of the worship leader is simply to exhort to worship. It is to point out to the people that they are about to come before the King of kings. He helps people to focus their minds and hearts on the Lord.
One good way to exhort people is to cite a passage from the book of Psalms, and then briefly expound on the same. In the book of Psalms there are very many verses that exhort to worship.
Such exhortation to worship would normally just take a few minutes.
At certain special occasions such as conferences or anniversaries, it is allowable or perhaps even desirable for the worship leader to have an extended exhortation to worship, which then could include personal sharing and/or a mini-teaching.
Note: Emcees who call on the worship leader make the mistake of telling the people to stand. They should not do so, as the worship leader will still do his exhortation to worship, while the people remain seated.
Clapping while singing
Clapping our hands is one good expression of worship. As such it can be done at any time during the vibrant praise portion of the worship.
It has been the practice of many however to clap their hands rhythmically throughout the whole praise song. It is better if such continuous clapping is not done, for the following reasons:
1) It can get pretty tiring;
2) It keeps one from raising his hands in worship;
3) If not done in proper rhythm and beat, it can be distracting and can even spoil the song;
4) It precludes the clapping that is “proper” to certain songs.
Raising of hands
We often raise our hands at various times when we are singing our praise and worship songs. In addition to Chapter 17 on “Lifting our Hands” in the book “Worship,” here are further practical inputs.
We raise one hand or two hands. If only one, it would normally be the right hand.
When we praise, our hand is raised with palm outward toward God. When we are making our petitions or being prayed over, our palm is turned inward.
While it is acceptable to keep our hand(s) raised at all times if we want to, that would be tiring. Further, there are more proper times to raise our hand to God, depending on what phrases we are saying/singing. The most proper times are when we are addressing God, especially when we praise Him. Oftentimes, though not always, this is reflected in the song’s refrain (chorus).
Singing as praying
It has been said that singing is praying twice. Singing indeed is a very important part of worship, which is part of prayer. Many times, however, we sing the songs mindlessly, that is, not truly mindful of what we are singing, and thus what we are praying. Some might sing phrases that they would normally not pray, at least not yet at that time in their lives.
Consider the following:
* “Tell me what you want me to do Lord God, tell me what you want for my life. It’s yours, oh God, it’s yours. Do your will, have your way, be Lord God in this place, oh I want your will to be done.” (By Your Side). Ready to turn your life over completely to God?
* “Servants of the Lord, ours the upward call, to lay down our lives and to give our all. …. For to live is Christ and to die is gain …. Riches, honor, fame, gladly we despise …. Nothing in this world shall possess our hearts” (To Know You and to Make You Loved). Ready to renounce the things of this world?
* “We will serve through tribulation, we will follow to the cross” (Once No People). Ready to embrace the cross of Christ?
* “My glory in your cross of shame and suffering …. My glory in your deep humiliation” (Redeeming Love). Ready for affliction and persecution?
* “Jesus I believe in you and I will go to the ends of the earth” (To the Ends of the Earth). Ready to be a missionary to a far-off place?
* “Should it be my last drop of blood I will shed it for you. My God I will live and die for you.” (Song of a Servant). Ready to be a martyr?
Be careful. God might just grant your prayer.
So what is one to do? Continue to sing such songs, but be mindful of what you are saying (praying) and in your heart confess to God your inadequacy and even reluctance, while affirming that you want to follow Him and have His will done in your life. By His grace, despite our human weakness and sinfulness, God will move us on to deeper faith and greater holiness.
Singing (praying) in tongues
Tongues is a manifestation of charismatic worship. Check out Chapter 18 on “Praying in Tongues” in the book “Worship.”
Tongues enables the congregation to enter more deeply into the presence and worship of God. As such, it should not just be a mechanical part of the worship (after the worship song). It should become a heartfelt response to God’s presence and the awe we are experiencing. The music ministry should continue strumming guitars and making a joyful but solemn noise as long as there are those still singing in tongues. In fact, vibrant strumming can help stir up tongues even more.
Further, the time of singing in tongues, to be followed by a time of silence, is the time when people begin to sense any words that the Lord might have for them, to be shared to all in prophecy or inspired scripture reading. The time of silence is not that long, as the Lord should have spoken to people’s hearts during the singing in tongues. (Note: in certain gatherings such as conferences and anniversaries, there might not be any time given to share His words to all).
Music ministry team
Singing is very much a part of worship, and in fact enhances worship. If there is singing, then it is best if there is music and accompanying instruments. As such, we have our music ministry.
One important thing for the music team to remember is that they are there to enhance singing and thus worship, and not as performers. As such, there are some things to watch out for:
* Showmanship, while entertaining, can distract from worship, so avoid it.
* Play songs that the congregation can easily sing along with, not complicated songs with intricate blending or variations in tone and pitch.
* Play songs that the congregation knows, so they can actively participate; new songs of course can be taught.
* The volume of music ministry instruments and singers should not be so loud as to drown out the voices of the congregation.
* While a full band can be helpful to worship, it is not necessary (though oftentimes desirable); one guitarist or organist can suffice.
The Praisefest is usually done at special events, such as conferences, anniversaries and the like. It normally caps the event, concluding it on a high point.
The Praisefest should not turn out to be a songfest, that is, just having so many songs in succession, with an occasional prayer said in between songs. There have been events where there were 10 or even more songs sung during the so-called Praisefest. That is too much. Five songs or so will suffice.
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