Those of you former PKers, early TCFers and Bread of Lifers will appreciate this post more than most. I mention those groups because it was in those settings where exceptional times of deep intimate worship were experienced on a regular basis. Many of us have spoken of those seasons with fond memories when the touch of the Holy Spirit and the presence of the Lord were especially palpable as there was almost full participation in worship. Don’t get me wrong, I love the church we now attend, but we go there for the preaching – not the worship. I still enter easily into the presence of the Lord whether in my personal quiet times or while surrounded in church by people standing in reverent compliance during worship but looking more like a crowd of unenthusiastic lip syncers. But something very interesting happened this past Sunday.
The worship time was led by a group of mostly graduating seniors in honor of the end of High School. The music was well prepared and overly loud as usual (79 – 86 dB, yes there is an app for that) and because of the volume combined with the well prepared songs, the congregation was playing their status quo role of more spectator than participant. Then on one particular song the young girl who started it was obviously nervous and unsure of herself as she led out weak, quiet and somewhat off-key. All of a sudden, there was a resounding chorus from the congregation of voices joining with hers as if to say both to the young girl and hopefully to the Lord “we’re joining here with you”.
In my memory, that level of corporate chorus has only happened two other times in the several years we have been at this church (from my perspective). One time there was a Sunday when the worship leader “cleared the stage” and led a minimalist acoustic worship time and then there was the Sunday that the power went out and the above scenario was repeated, albeit unintentionally. Those are the only two occasions I recall being able to actually hear the congregational voices over the well prepared music coming from the stage.
Don’t get me wrong, I love good music as much as the next person, but I’m not in the camp that believes ever louder and better rehearsed music is necessarily a good thing when it comes to humbly falling on our knees and casting our crowns in worship. Less can be more.