To say worship is a subject of great interest in the church would be an understatement. Worship is an integral part of our lives as Christians. That’s why I’m thankful for worship leaders like Matt Boswell.
Matt serves as pastor of ministries and worship at Providence Church in Frisco, Texas. He leads Doxology & Theology, a community of worship leaders commited to promoting “gospel-centered worship by connecting and equipping worship leaders.”
Matt has also written a book by the same name, and I’m glad to have him here to answer some questions about the book and the intersection of worship and theology:
Last weekend, my wife Deborah and I drove to San Fernando, Pampanga, for our Central Luzon Discipleship 2013 conference. We now have 11 Victory churches in the region. About 1,000 Victory Group leaders attended the conference. I wish you could have been there—amazing stories of the gospel changing lives!
As great as the conference was, I had a troubling conversation with a pastor and his wife. I have had similar conversations with pastors on other continents. Here’s the all-too-familiar story:
Recently Verna Linzey, a “daughter” of the Azusa Street Revival, was ministering in the Los Angeles Mission in Torrance when revival unexpectedly broke out with ecstatic utterances, prophecy, shaking and salvations, and this has continued at that mission.
This weekend Linzey, author of The Baptism of the Holy Spirit, was invited to the Azusa Street Revival Commemoration called "Honoring the Holy Spirit for the Past and Seeking God for the Future," an event coordinated by the Rev. Fred Berry. This event took place on Friday in the sanctuary at Union Church, which is on the back side of the square block shared by Azusa Street.
Linzey was invited to greet the audience since the Holy Spirit had recently ignited the revival at the Los Angeles Mission in Torrance through Verna Linzey. When she greeted the audience she gave this word from the Lord: "The Holy Spirit is working mightily in Los Angeles and we have begun to see greater manifestations of revival in the Los Angeles basin. We are honoring the Holy Spirit for the past and seeking God for the future. What we are seeking is now happening. So let us pray that the flames of revival that have been ignited in the Los Angeles basin recently sweep across Los Angeles and the world once again."
Worship should be the focus and source of our service
My dad, Bill Johnson, has always said to us,
“Everything we do in life and ministry should flow out of our worship to God.”
True worship is a heart surrendered to God, and the overflow of that surrendered heart is a life of praise. I believe anything is possible in a room of worshippers. Healing often takes place in the atmosphere created by worship. His presence is that atmosphere. We don’t worship to get miracles, though. He is the result and in Him is everything. He is the One we seek.
Praising God when you don’t feel like it isn’t fake praise. In fact, that’s when it’s sometimes the most real and honest. Those are the times when we go past our human emotions and make it loud and clear to the spirit realm that we are taking a step of faith and saying, “I believe!” God can’t help but intervene in the life of a passionate worshiper.
The recipe to transformational worship is basic ingredients and a pinch of creativity
My wife is a great cook. Throughout our marriage I have watched her prepare (and joyfully partaken in) literally hundreds of unique dishes. She is more of an artist in the kitchen. Each time it is a little different. Recently we had some children over to make pancakes. My wife patiently helped them find each of the ingredients; they had a grand time cracking eggs, stirring flour, getting the ingredients ready, in anticipation of the delicious breakfast to come. For me, worship is a little like cooking.
As I have had the privilege to minister in worship with the Eagles’ Wings team in nations around the world (from churches of 25 to stadiums of 25,000) I have tasted a lot of different flavors of worship, but have seen some common themes that seem to be ingredients that move worship from just singing songs, to a life-changing encounter with the Creator King.
Lift Up. What are we focused on when we worship? Is it the great sound, the amazing skill, the flashing lights? If we only focus on the externals, we can inadvertently lead people into “spectator mode.” As leaders, we have the opportunity to model a “God-first” approach, inviting people to interact with the Living God. Beginning with prayer to God, not just about God, and reading portions of Scripture throughout the time can realign people’s focus on Who this is really all about.