Last week, I brought up the subject of worship and the idea of incorporating silence into personal and congregational settings and the thought that perhaps what we need is less sound and more silence.
For those who missed it, you can catch up here.
So, now to part 2.
Music is made up of complex frequencies that resonate in our ears and are registered by the brain as pleasurable or distasteful experiences. It can bring you to a place of peace or stir you up to riot mentality and everything in between.
What I’m discovering is that music, as beautiful and Godly as it can be, can also be the very thing that stands in the way of an authentic encounter with God himself, the Master Maestro.
And so as much as it is a pleasurable experience to worship alongside thousands of others at a conference, or attend a worship event where you get lost in the incredible moments of resonating frequencies that imbue the most holy of feelings, please take into consideration what you are entering in to first.
Our relationship with God is just that – a relationship. Music is not the only channel for us to connect with him on. Music is just that – a channel. Let’s not build it up into something that it just isn’t.
Okay, now let’s link these things together.
We want to worship in Spirit and in truth. Yes? Great. We want to express our worship using our gifts and talents, and encourage others by providing a beautiful environment. Yes? Awesome. And we want to make sure that we don’t miss out on an opportunity to encounter God, regardless of the environment we create. Yes? Wonderful.
Now, let’s imagine that this white space is silence. It’s the space not only between the notes, but between the songs and between our exhortations. It’s the space where we allow our spirits to connect with the Spirit of God.
It’s the space where we give His voice an opportunity to sound out.
What if, as we make room for this kind of space, we open the door for deeper and more life changing revelation to enter our lives? And if this was possible, why do we shy away from such an incredible opportunity?
I believe it’s because we’ve become so accustomed to creating these environments that we’ve taken it upon ourselves to ensure that not a moment is soundless. We panic if there isn’t a smooth flow between two songs because we don’t want to risk breaking the moment.
Do we consider our fellow worshippers to be so immature as to not be able to handle an interlude of silence? I think that this need to create a continual musical flow is where the ‘lack of silence issue’ stems from.
So then what happens next? We finish up in a deep place and no one knows what to do. We don’t think the time is up yet but we don’t have another song to go to. We can feel the eyes of the pastor or service leader boring down on us and we panic that they’re going to take over and wherever we thought we were going gets lost to the day-to-day running of church life.
So we keep playing. And playing.
Side note: I’m not suggesting that playing is a bad thing. I’ve used this technique plenty of times while waiting to sense where we go next. There is nothing wrong with it and it allows worshippers to spend a few moments in quiet contemplation. It can also create space for inspired readings to be given. It can be a beautiful time in between the songs where we reflect on what we’ve just been singing.
I want us to step further in.
My desire is to see teams enter in to the white space between the sounds. Let God speak in the silence. Not through us. Directly with his people. I want to see congregations being given the time to commune with God in a way that encourages deeper thought, deeper connection and deeper revelation.
I mean no disrespect to my fellow musicians but frankly, I wonder if sometimes we get in the way of what God would like to do and say. We are so busy creating the environment that perhaps we forget that it’s his space and in fact, it’s not us who create the environment at all.
Our job is simply to invite him and honour him. That’s it.
His job, if we let him, is to commune with us.
I realise that this is potentially a huge subject and that I’m in jeopardy of writing a book here so I’ll finish up for now. If all you get from this is one thing, let it be this: learn to become comfortable in the white space when you’re alone with God.
You might just be amazed.
Next week, I’m going to dig just a little deeper and share:
- My personal experiences with sitting in silence before God
- Some historical and Biblical context that will help us unpack this a bit further
- Some practical applications for congregations and individuals who want to try incorporating silence into their worship times
Thanks for reading,
What’s been your experience of congregational worship?
What have you personally discovered in those quiet moments?
Please share your thoughts and remember that we are a community of like-minded folk, so church bashing is not on, okay? Okay :)