This past year has reshaped our idea of what church looks like, and it has, for better or worse, reshaped the way we worship together corporately.
At the onset of church closures and the pandemic, we encouraged everyone to tune in to whatever online outlet available, and to keep worship going in their homes as much as possible. As churches began to reopen, with limited capacities and restrictions, we switched to a virtual worship experience. While all of those options were utilized, there was a deconstructing of our overall experience regardless of which option was adopted.
As a worship leader, I found the online experience difficult as our equipment wasn’t necessarily conducive to translating high quality sound online. As we tried whatever we felt like we were supposed to, I found that personally a shift was happening that was both uncomfortable and exciting.
I’m going to write from heart here, so please understand that I’m not saying this is the ONLY right way to worship, and it isn’t at all a template for other churches or individuals to follow, it’s simply what I feel the Holy Spirit is leading me and our team here at HVCC into.
During the height of the pandemic, the constant barrage of media reports, and then the racial tensions that ensued, I found my soul so very troubled and often found myself battling anxiety and even depression as we navigated an ever changing and very stressful global climate. During my time with the Lord He directed me to worship Him, to listen to worship music and let it permeate not just my spirit but the environment of our home as well. Around this same time a collective of worship artists/musicians began to collaborate under the name of Maverick City Music. I felt so drawn to this spontaneous and Spirit led expression of worship. I felt that the styling of all the songs they wrote and the narrative of them both gave glory and honor to the Lord, while also leaving room for the Holy Spirit to move. Some of the songs we’ve done in the past required a definitive technical talent with ending/beginning execution perfected. What I enjoyed and continue to enjoy about this “new” expression of music is the ability they leave to flow with the moving of the Holy Spirit which is and has always been my hearts desire. As I worshipped privately in my home, on my runs/walks, in my car.. I found that the overflow of that worship was a peaceful spirit, and a quieting of my nerves. I was reminded again of the power of our worship to the Creator no matter the circumstances. I’ve been very public about how leading worship was never my desire. A fear of public perception coupled with a history of panic attacks and anxiety has never been a great combination, however, as God often does, He leads us where we least expect Him to take us. I often have teased that I would love to lead worship from a side room where I can’t see anyone and no one can see me… and I’m still totally down for that! However, I also recognize the call of God and I know that for whatever reason He’s placed me here for this season. I am so blessed with an amazing team that supports and is willing to go with my imperfect piano abilities, my abrupt changes in the flow of the music, and my ability to primarily put everything in the key of C. They’ve shown up dedicated and ready regardless. We lost some members of the team as our church reshaped and rebuilt following the closures, as so many other churches have as well. Daniel Mitchell on the guitar/audio/lighting has been so consistent and faithful.. I’ll never be able to express my gratitude. Kim Sheldon and her daughter Abigail recently rejoined the team as vocalists and their joyful spirits are like a balm after a very long dry season. My daughter Stacey, up until her move to Texas a month ago, played, sang, filled in and did whatever was asked while also battling health issues and raising her beautiful babes. They are all amazing. I know however, that God is calling more to join or rejoin the HVCC Creative Team through worship.
Now for the point of this- where are we going? Buckle up because we are for sure GOING somewhere.
Where we are NOT going is backward. No more performance driven, perfected bridge and chorus sequences. We are going into a lingering in the Presence of God. We are pressing into allowing Holy Spirit to dictate our worship, and we are making space for Him to stir up gifts in His people. We will do our best to cultivate our gifts and talents to present our very best to God, but we will not be limited by technical execution, our goal is to be open to whatever Holy Spirit wants to do in us personally, as a team, corporately, and beyond. We will not limit Holy Spirit to move within a certain style of music. He is proven to move equally powerfully through hymns, choruses, new music, lyrically, instrumentally, and ultimately, I believe He will even anoint us to write and sing out new songs that He places in our spirits. We will open our mouths and allow the sound He places to come out. We will put our hands to keys, strings, or percussion and allow Him to pull out the song from those instruments that He most desires to hear. We will not even be limited by music and sound equipment. We will be open to whatever expression of worship, as long as it is biblically proven, He so desires to receive.
This is not new or unprecedented. Moves of God in the past have their own sound and worship and expression of praise.. our desire is to just be open to whatever He wants. It will mean that there may be moments where it’s uncomfortable for some more accustomed to more liturgical or rigid methodologies of worship. It may mean that we linger in the Presence of God sometimes and that afternoon or other plans take a backseat to Him.
Ultimately it all means that we acknowledge, believe, and know that God is stirring up a new thing in HVCC and He is calling all of us- leaders, laypersons, seekers, and seasoned saints alike – to partner with Him as He ignites revival. Worship is our weapon and praise is our privilege. What an amazing God and what a profound season we get to live in.