Saturday, July 2, 2011

Essentials in Worship Values

for the Essentials In Worship Values Certificate Course with Dan Wilt

Why we lead worship, and who we lead worship for tells us much about how we lead worship.” [1]

Everything in life has the potential to become an act of worship, a response to God’s love for us. In the “gathered worship experience…our great desire and goal is to nurture a people who, through the vehicle of songs, prayers, liturgies, teaching and more, understand how to respond to God from a yielded heart” [2] that will extend beyond the gathered experience into their daily lives. “We create atmospheres that lead people to welcome the Spirit of God to change their lives, their motives, their choices. We open up languages of prayer for those who come, that in turn have the potential to open them up to God.” [3]

Connecting people to God is my passion. I love doing it through worship, art, prayer…over coffee, dinner, or on a walk. But worship is my primary “vehicle” to lead people to God. There is just something about a group of 2 or 3 or 300 come together…the “we” aspect that transforms a very personal experience into a community experience where we as individuals connect to God in an activity we do together.

When we meet, the expression of worship that lends itself most to community is song. Brian Doerksen says, “Why (do) we sing songs in the first place? We do it because it is something we can do together. There are probably other things that we could do to express our love and our worship to God that would be, in one sense, just as valid. But they’re not easy for us to do together.”[4]

But leading worship isn’t just about a set list or the people I sing/play with or the venue where I lead. The most critical substance of leading worship is the values from which I lead. In Essentials in Worship Values, Dan Wilt describes five foundational values that give structure to the worship experience God is calling me to facilitate within my local body. Having these at the center shapes the sound of worship that creates the atmosphere where we can be vulnerable and known to God.


“Intimacy happens when one heart chooses to make itself vulnerable to another, choosing self-offering above self-protection; self disclosure above self-protection.” [5] God is inviting us to a deep relationship with Him, one where He does not protect Himself from us and wants us to be open and vulnerable to Him. It is a “posture, a positioning, of one heart toward another.”

I must value intimacy with the Lord in my private life so that I might lead others to engage deeply with Him through the songs. I need to allow time and space for this to happen, not rushing through the moments when the Spirit is moving on each heart.


“Integrity in worship means that we are a consistent people – we don’t just sing what we believe, we sing what we already live.” [6] The way I lead or create or express worship has integrity if it flows from who I am in private. I become a parasite on the people I’m leading if I lead without integrity, taking my identity from them, from how they view me, from their praise and/or rejection. Leading needs to come out of the overflow of my life lived out before God.


Accessibility means creating access point(s) that facilitate people meeting with God. Often times this will mean laying down personal preferences so that I might “facilitate the communication between human beings and God.” [7] “We are playing and creating so that the congregation might find a clear way to lay down the burdens they walked in with at the feet of Jesus, and to meet with Him in worship through the vehicle of the music that we make.

We want our community to engage with God’s story on every level, and to enter intimately into that story as those pursued by a welcoming, accessible God.” [8] We stay aware of who it is that we are leading into worship and ask God how He can best make Himself known to them through our worship.

Cultural Relevance

Cultural relevance does not mean cultural accommodation. [9] Rather, it is leading the way to a connection with God that fits within the context of the culture where I lead. “[It] is the art of creating atmospheres that are authentic to our reality, style, age and goals that build a welcoming and engaging bridge for those who may not be able to build a bridge for themselves.” [10] I trust God to reveal the way to lead that removes barriers and reveals the truth of who He is within the culture.

Kingdom Expectation

Kingdom expectation is expecting God to be the same yesterday, today and forever; to expect Him to reveal Himself in the space that He has helped and led us to create. Jesus’ life was an example of bringing the future Kingdom reality into the present. He declared the Kingdom come and taught His disciple to pray for God’s will on earth as it is in Heaven.

In Heaven, worship is a multi-sensory, living, breathing, exciting, awe-inspiring continual event. We are His “holy, viral carriers of the Kingdom of heaven, reflecting the future day when ‘all things will be made new.’” [11]

God has told us to expect Him to “show up” for us. The way He comes is often a mystery, but in embracing the mystery of who He is along with the revelation of His heart, we experience more of His Kingdom truth in our lives that transforms us further into the people He has called us to be. To not expect Him to come is an “affront to what [He] has offered.” [12] We must lead from a place of belief, trust and Kingdom expectation where God’s presence is expected to manifest in our midst.

As I move into this next season of the formation of who God has called me to be, I desire above all else to stay deep. These core values of intimacy, integrity, accessibility, cultural relevance, and Kingdom expectation keep me centered on the One I am leading others to and demand that I expect God to empower me to do the hard work required for the great privilege of leading His people into a deeper encounter and relationship with Him…

An encounter that will, hopefully, leave them hungering for more of Him and desiring to meet with Him, not just in our corporate worship times, but during the week, as well, where they can continue to experience a connection with Him.

1 Dan Wilt, Essentials in Worship Values, 4.
2 ibid, 4.
3 ibid, 5.
4 ibid, 5.
5 ibid, 7.
6 ibid, 8.
7 ibid, 12.
8 ibid, 12.
9 Dan Wilt, The Value of Cultural Relevance.
10 Dan Wilt, Essentials in Worship Values, 15.
11 ibid, 18.
12 ibid, 18.

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