￼My chest vibrated in congruence with the thumping bassline, and the pounding drums. My eyes were closed, but I could still see a hint of the blue lights dancing on stage. My heart was full: I was surrounded by dear friends, and overflowing with zeal and hunger for the Lord. Worship was the first love that caught me, spoke to my spirit, and drew me into a life-long journey. Through worship, I experienced the presence of Lord so tangibly that I knew with every fiber of my being that this was real— that he was real. For me, there was no going back.
I opened my eyes long enough to see a warm, blonde-smile looking down at me from the stage. There was something behind those eyes that was different… There was a joy and assurance that captured my attention more than the melody. There was a freedom in her worship. She didn’t worship just with her words, she worshiped with her entire being: her voice, her body, her eyes, her smile, her hands, and come to find out; her entire life… It emanated from her. It spoke more to me about worship than any lyric ever could.
Since that young, 14-year-old-moment, I not only pursued the Lord fervently, but I also pursued what it looked like to lead others in worship. Thinking back on this first memory, the things that remain engrained were not the words, or the melody of the songs— it was the all encompassing sounds, beautiful lights, vibrations in my chest, and the character and lifestyle of the worshiper on stage which spoke to me the most. All of these components reflected Jesus so beautifully to me, and it beckoned me closer. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not encouraging a “production” mindset… but this does present something interesting: worship is not only contained in good songs, guitars, and and enchanting voices. It’s not just an “attraction” that draws us into the church building. Music, of course, can be a natural expression of joy, celebration, or sorrow and be used as worship… but when our definition of worship only resides in lyrics and melodies, something is off and we have lost what it really means to worship. Perhaps our entire modern interpretation of “worship” should all together be challenged! When it is first appears in the Bible, music is not even mentioned. I’m not suggesting that we ditch music all together, but do ask yourself if maybe there is something more. It could just be the introvert in me, but when I am most overwhelmed in musical worship, I stop singing: it’s almost as if my words can no longer do justice to what I know is going on in my spirit, and so I just don’t need them anymore. Since more than 70% of all communication is entirely non-verbal, this can only support the fact that t!here is more than one way to worship (and pray).
Over the years, I’ve had the pleasure of more creatively exploring this idea of “worship.” Worship is not just a moment lasting 15-30 minutes— coming before (and sometimes after) the word spoken on Sunday morning, or Wednesday evening… worship is a lifestyle of reverence, of identity, of humility, of obedience, of meekness… It’s a lifestyle where you choose to make the Lord your first priority and seek to have his perspective on all things. It’s one where you regularly listen to what He is saying, and you actually do something about it; honoring Him with your life, seeking to align your heart with His! …sometimes this includes music.
Practically speaking, I’ve been able to “push the envelope” on what it was that we, as a gathering of believers, could do in those 15-30 minutes of designated “worship” time. As you might guess— it isn’t always just songs.
I generally start by asking myself some questions: What is Jesus doing and saying? What is it that reflects Jesus? What beckons us closer into his presence? What makes us hunger to have a heart more in line with his? More like his? More than just lyrics: the Lord has given us five senses. How can we seek to engage them all?
￼Here are a few practical ideas to get your creative juices flowing outside of the box:
• Try turning the lights down low or switching up the color— anything that is welcoming, inviting and that draws people closer.
• Have pictures playing on screen of beautiful places on the Earth (or space) while worshiping with music to help you re-engage with reverence and awe of the Lord.
• Read scripture and journal about what stands out to you and why.
• Journal about the things and people you are most thankful for and blessed by.
• Write out your prayers and thoughts to and about God.
• Provide inspirational reading to get people excited, and have them write down what it is that they are thinking about.
• Try having a worship set outside, engaging with nature.
• Push the chairs aside and bring tons of pillows and fluffy blankets! Since we can worship God with our bodies as well, try laying on the floor, as a physical sign of submission.
• Have music playing softly in the back ground while encouraging people’s creativity by painting or drawing pictures! I can’t tell you how many times I asked the Lord what He was saying or doing, have drawn it, and later on it came to pass!
• Candles and incense are very easy ways to get your sense of smell involved. In the Bible, the smoke that rose up from incense was a physical representation of the prayers of the “holy ones” ascending to heaven. The sight of the smoke or flickering candle light can also engage your sight, and remind you that the Lord is there, and He hears your prayers.
• Here’s an unusual one: go to an art gallery, and let your eyes take in the beauty that is surrounding you. Let it remind you to be thankful for beauty, colors, creativity, and the creator of creativity!
• Are people interceding for breakthrough or healing? Have everyone write down their current struggle, go outside and throw it in a fire pit and burn it! Let it represent all of you uniting together and sending your collective struggles back to the fiery pits! Once, I was praying for the healing of a friend of mine who had cancer. I felt prompted to do just that: write “cancer” on a piece of paper, and go burn it. The next day she was cancer free.
By engaging in worship through physical representations like drawing, laying, smelling, seeing, or even setting things on fire, all you are doing is agreeing with what you know to be true in Heaven already (e.g. health, joy, abundance, victory) and bringing it down to Earth. It was Jesus who prayed; “On Earth as it is in Heaven,” right? You can literally bring Heaven to Earth in these ways in your worship— and satan can’t do anything to stop you. The possibilities are endless… and hopefully by letting people engage in worship with out-of-the box ideas and scenarios, they won’t keep worship confined to song, a stage, or the band.
I love music! It has always been a huge part of my life, but I challenge us all to broaden our scope on worship, get creative, and see what God does!
This post was written by Becky Rabb, a member of 3DM’s central team and leader in the local student ministry.