A few weeks ago when I was leading worship at my home church, my partner wanted to sing “Did You Feel the Mountains Tremble” by Martin Smith of delirious?. She felt strongly about it and wanted me to lead it. We have three assemblies every weekend, one on Saturday night and two on Sunday morning. We sing the same songs (usually) at each service. I like this song, but hadn’t thought about it in a while. I was mostly indifferent about it, but agreed to sing it.
When the time came on Saturday evening, I was so moved that I had a hard time getting through the song. My partner was on to something. Early Sunday morning I woke up before my alarm went off, thinking about this song, and how to set it up. I felt a strong impression that I needed to encourage the congregation to be free in their worship.
Now, I have the opportunity to lead worship in different settings with varying degrees of outward expression. When leading folks in worship, it’s important to know where they are and what they are comfortable with. Once we know them and they trust us, they will follow our lead. Sometimes, our rightful place is to stretch the people, even to the point of their discomfort. However, we lead; we don’t push.
My church is the easiest place for me to experiment. We are eager to worship, which is one of the things that attracted me some 15 years ago. We tend to be pretty expressive, but not as much as we used to be. Because of some changes in our church culture, I sensed that there were some folks who wanted to be more expressive, but weren’t sure if it would be acceptable to do so. Of course, I couldn’t know this for sure, which is what makes what I was considering so nerve wracking.
I was considering asking them to dance. My fears were many. What if I ask and they don’t? Am I just trying to cause trouble? It’s not important if they dance or not; why do I want them to dance? What will the pastor (who was out of town) think about this? Once I say it, there’s no going back…. But my feeling about it wouldn’t go away. I prayed. I checked my heart. I decided that my job was to be obedient to what I felt I really needed to do. What the people did in response was up to them.
In the end, I did it. It was a step of faith and was scary, but I did it. This was a great lesson for me. First, I “read” the congregation during the first few songs. I continued to feel that they were a dancing group of folks. So, after the first verse, I asked if there were any “dancers in the house.” Affirmative. I said that I felt like some of them wanted to dance, but weren’t sure if you should. “Well, you should,” I said. “And you should do it down front.” I was shaking, but down they came. (Someone later suggested that the reason this went over well was that I didn’t tell them to dance, I simply made room and gave them permission to if they wanted).
I went on to explain how worship is warfare. We fight against principalities, but sometimes, at least for some of us, we need to do something physical to represent what is happening spiritually. This is a song of prophecy and calls for active intercession and dancing is a great way to demonstrate this principle. We went back into it and they danced. Beautifully and passionately, we danced. I tell you that something “broke” in the spirit because of this experiment.
Now, I’m not sure if I would blog about this if it flopped. And I don’t tell this story to impress you. I am also not telling you that you should ask your people to dance this Sunday. (I am in some situations where I would really need the “handwriting on the wall” before I would try anything like this). I do, however, want to encourage you (and me) to be obedient to God first, resisting the fear of others. Pay attention to these types of promptings, it just may be the Lord.
What about you? Have you ever stuck your neck out in faith in a situation like this? How did it go?