Fri, 27 Apr 2012 - 4:50 PM CST
"The sanctuary lights dim, the keyboardist has appeared out of nowhere and is now playing softly, and it's just you and Jesus, slow dancing in the pew. Your eyes are closed, your arms hang loosely in the air and you're swaying gently back and forth. Just you and the Savior, having an intimate moment." If this satirical description of worship in a guest post from the "Stuff Christians Like" blog does not make you laugh out loud, you obviously have not been worshipping correctly. Or have you?
Releasing best-selling recordings since 1998, Hillsong United certainly understands worship music. Leader Jonathon Douglass believes worship is our thank you to God. "We have a savior who loves us. It's an unconditional love that doesn't care what you have done or will do," he says. "For me, worship is a response to that incredible love, grace and mercy from God; it‘s a massive thank you to God for saving us and accepting us as we are."
Singer Sarah Kelly believes the main objective of worship is engagement with God. Originally from Sweden, Sarah has the opportunity to perform at rock concerts in Europe and brings worship into her set. "What the audience feels in this music is real, and they can trust it because they always feel the Spirit," she says. "It's a very natural thing to worship. If we create an environment of worship for people and model it, they will come."
Sarah emphasizes keeping worship fresh by worshipping through tough times. "We tend to take our backpack full of circumstances, all the yuck that we're going through, and lay it down as we walk into church. We put on this alter ego as we worship but pick up our imaginary backpack full of blah when we leave," she says. "The best kind of worship is when you worship in the center of your circumstance so you mean it when you sing, ‘How Great Is Our God.' Faith has the power to move mountains. That's the power of our worship."
Sarah also believes music is a language in its own right. "I believe music is healing," she says. "You always hear that music is the language of the heart. It will make you feel a certain way without your knowing what it's saying. It's a valid form of worship and a way of reaching people. Sometimes music and a song can break down a wall that simple words can't."
Jonathon agrees, but cautions people from getting too wrapped up in the emotions. "Music is an incredible tool created by God, for God. Music is quite emotive, which is great. We need to throw ourselves into the song with feeling because we want to give everything to God as He gave everything to us," he says. "However, worship is way more than simply emotion, and we can get confused if we're not emotional when worship music is playing. Really, we need to realize that our relationship with God can't come from whether we are ‘feeling it' or not. We serve God because He is good and He died for us. The emotion and joy are great, but you can't be led by your emotions only."
Jonathon and Sarah encourage students to journal for growth. "If you're musical and not afraid of it, write a song to God. It's so intimate," Sarah says. "I think it means so much to Jesus when we use our own words, when we don't just rely on Chris Tomlin's relationship with God to teach us how to worship, when we are teaching ourselves how to worship."