the baby and the bathwater

Searching for more in worship
June 5, 2009, 12:47 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

Our staff team spent a day away recently at a retreat centre near to Cheltenham and we were really fortunate to have Barry Kissell come and speak and minister to us. Many of you may know Barry from his New Wine days – he used to host the event with David Pytches in the 90’s and his humorous style and pinpoint prophetic accuracy were (and still are) legendary.

One of the things Barry spoke about was worship, and he talked about the worship we read about in the Old Testament and how the presence of God seemed to be so intense, especially in the events surrounding the dedication of the temple. In a very heartfelt way he was saying that, much as he thought the worship in many churches was great, that, actually, he was looking for more. That he was searching for more in our worship in our churches. There was something that both resonated and frustrated me about the words. Resonated, because there are probably many of us worship leaders around at the moment that are echoing the same thoughts – that we are in many ways unsatisfied with what the status quo is in worship. Frustrated because I wanted to know what the answer was, what the ‘more’ was.

Over lunch I had the brief chance to ask Barry a bit more of what he had touched on in the session, and asked him what he thought the ‘more’ was or how the ‘more’ could be grasped. Unfortunately, time didn’t permit a long conversation but in many ways he said that often he sees things prophetically and doesn’t always have the finished, unpacked, sorted out explanations. And in one sense, this added to the sense of frustration!

But, as I reflected on the day and, in particular, those comments, I became aware that actually, one mark of true worshippers is that they are always on a journey for more; That they are, in many ways, unsatisfied in what they have of God and are always searching for more of Him. You see, there is tendency in many people in our churches to sit and wait for ‘the next big thing in worship’ as though it will somehow fall into our laps and make everything more colourful, more exciting and more presence-filled. And actually, I am not sure that this will ever happen. I think our journey as worshippers is more about a constant dissatisfaction that drives us deeper into the cloud of His presence, searching for Him, searching for His glory, searching for His presence, searching for His favour. And it seems to me that if there is a problem in our churches, if there is something that is causing us to falter in our worship, it is because we have stopped pressing into God and we are too much of the mind that we should just wait around until He does something.

So, for one, I am comfortable with the dissatisfaction, because it keeps me running, keeps me singing.

What about you?


4 Comments so far
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“I think our journey as worshippers is more about a constant dissatisfaction that drives us deeper into the cloud of His presence, searching for Him, searching for His glory, searching for His presence, searching for His favour.”

Yes and Amen to that Neil – complacency is dangerous – dissatisfaction when channeled in the right way is good, it leads to revealing our true hunger – a hunger for Him. Not just “new songs” and “new worship experiences” – Lord save us from that to find the real thing – YOU.

Comment by James Sharratt

Just the biggest “AMEN” coming right up the M5 to you, Neil, echoing up the Avon Gorge and along the Severn Estuary. Sometimes the joy is on the journey, and you never ‘arrive’ but you’re changed in the process.

We are sharing some of the same journey here in Bristol – we have renamed our ‘pressing in’ times from “refreshing meetings” to “Hungry For More” precisely to reflect that shift in emphasis. I know for sure that the apex of human worship of God isn’t musical in definition, but has that element of a lover who will not give themselves to another.

Because God is both a complete and an unfolding revelation – a tension for us to deal with. We worship on the basis of the revealed greatness of a loving God, but we are reminded that “of the increase of his government there will be no end” and that we are to be transformed “from one degree of glory to another”. Many are sat in their seats waiting for the next move of God – whatever that means – when His heart cries “Arise! Shine! For the your light has come!”


Comment by MattCrossman

Hi Neil,

A great post. We had Barry down 18 months ago, and we had a brief chat about the need for a “new song”. I am as excited as I am confused and unknowing about what it is, but I agree with you that God’s prompting is to keep searching, keep discovering, and keep investing in the gifts of others to express their worship.

I totally agree with the point of the “next big thing”. I think many people’s expectations is that we’ll find ‘it’ and then fill stadiums doing ‘it’ and then there’ll be a massive ‘it’ industry to back it all up, supporting the select few who are viewed by the masses as doing ‘it’ better than anyone else. I personally don’t believe that this is where God is going at the moment.

I reckon that God is guiding worshipper to place the emphasis on ‘expressing’ rather than ‘defining and packaging’.

Comment by Kev B

James, Matt, Kev
thanks for the comments…

Comment by neilbennetts

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