by Lyn Packer
There is a global shift that is beginning to take place in the area of worship and, to be honest, it is a much needed one. What is this shift and why do we need it? Before I go on to share about that let me share with you a part of what prompted this article.
We have spent the last two weeks teaching at the YWAM base in Perth, Australia at their School of Worship and we have been surrounded by students who are hungry to know God better and to worship him with more freedom and abandonment than ever before. Those same students understand that what happens in our life of worship will overflow out into the world, that we are blessed to be a blessing. They are hungry to take the reality of that experience out into the world and see nations transformed by the release of the presence of God. Also we have ministered in many places over the last year or so where congregations and Pastors are saying - we need God to turn up and be God in our worship. We need the glory of God in the Church.
In the middle of last century, as the charismatic movement swept through the churches of our nations, people found a new release in worship. They started to see the presence of God be released in their worship times and great things happened. Prophecy and the other gifts flowed. Then something happened and we slowly became more and more focused on professionalism and being non-offensive and people pleasing. Little by little we lost that sense of the presence of God in our services and we settled back into a form that somehow lacked power.
The church in many places is starting to wake up to the fact that 'preference' has largely replaced 'presence' in our worship times; and in many cases times of corporate worship have become defined by 'what are the latest songs' rather than 'what does God want to do'. We have recognized that there is a problem with the way we worship but too often we have sought to fix a spiritual problem with soulish solutions as we try to make our worship times more appealing. Some have dressed the musicians and singers in trendy clothes, made sure they have great light shows, loud professional sounding music and yet wonder why people still aren't connecting with God. While those things aren't bad in themselves, if they are a substitute for the presence of God I believe that they are wrong.
I read this quote by Matt Redman - from his book 'Facedown' a while ago that sounded a clear sound from heaven. "Sometimes in the church I worry that we've settled for 'goldfish–bowl' worship. We convey a tame and domesticated God, and then find ourselves stuck in the endless pursuit of the ordinary. But the call is to venture out into the ocean, to encounter the extraordinary and to explore the mighty depths of God. And though our earthly gathered worship times may never sound the depths of his glory, beware of those that don't even attempt to do so."
The thing is this - we have largely become disillusioned and heartsick. Many no longer approach worship with the expectation of hearing or experiencing God because they know that while they are promised much not always will much be delivered. But there is hope. Things cannot and will not stay the same because the Church's passion for the presence of God is being roused again. There is a groundswell of disillusionment with the way things are that is rising and we are beginning to cry out for the presence of God again in ways unseen for many years. We are crying out for the Glory of God to be seen in our midst.
I believe that the Church will, over the next few years, see a huge change in the way we worship God. We will see a return to new covenant worship, prophetic worship, and throne room worship. We will see biblical worship that is full of prophetic revelation and the manifest presence of God.
We are even now beginning to see people experience God in very real ways, entering revelatory Throne Room encounters, seeing visions, encountering angels, and being spontaneously healed as the presence of God invades the atmosphere. These things are happening in our meetings, and those of others we know, here in NZ now.
Yet history teaches us a sad reality - that not everyone will embrace what God is doing; but I believe that more and more Churches will accept and want what God is doing as they see the reality of His presence and power at work.
David Swan in his book 'The Power of Prophetic Worship' says "This generation of worshippers is destined to usher in the glory of God in a greater dimension. As the worship of the saints grows purer, more intense and is sustained longer, the manifestation and experience of God's glory and power will increase in intensity."
What wonderful days are ahead of us as we see the Glory of God manifested in our midst as He truly comes to inhabit or be enthroned on the praises of His people. Sick bodies will be healed, the bound set free, the depressed will become full of joy, heaven will invade earth and God will again be worshipped like He and we long for.