How I first learned to worship

The following was originally written as a comment I left here, and is adapted to fit here instead. Thank you Andy Traub for starting the conversation.

I have loved worship time since age 11, when I first set foot in Vineyard Christian Fellowship. I’ve been in church my whole life, with a variety of exposure to worship music, mostly of the Pentecostal / Charismatic variety. In fact, the church we had left a few months earlier had a very elaborate worship band. Keep in mind, though, this was around 1988-89, long before Chris Tomlin or anyone like that ever came on the scene. So we’re talking full orchestras, singers dressed up in “sunday best”. In other words, very elaborate, and to me, especially at my age, unapproachable. I hated it and I was bored.

What they did differently at Vineyard was that they put the relationship with Jesus first, and put polish way down the list. No suits. No ties. No dresses. Not even khakis. Jeans, shorts, t-shirts, etc., were the dress code. And the songs were definitely “love songs”, but the kind that only seem shallow if you have no context for them. And they used guitars, keyboards, drums, bass, etc. I’m sure that seems trite now, but in 1989, especially in the Midwest, it wasn’t.

The most important thing, though, is that we actually met with God during those times. I learned to really love Him out of those songs. People would stick around for 45 minute worship times every Sunday because Jesus would show up, they’d feel His love, and they’d actually go away healed. They would actually have a relationship with Him that stuck. It actually changed how they lived, myself included. I can thank my dad for giving me his perspective. He always emphasized that what brought him to Jesus wasn’t something intellectual, it was because of the love he felt. It was about a relationship.
This is why I didn’t give up on learning to be a musician and worship leader myself. I now appreciate much more deeply what goes into that process from the other end, and believe me, it can get much harder to keep perspective when you’re the one trying to pick songs and listen to Jesus in the process.

So I guess what I have to say is if you don’t experience that intimacy in your singing, you should probably spend some time trying to figure out why. It could just be that you’re just singing the wrong songs, or maybe you just don’t know what a good worship service feels like. It may very well be you need to leave the church you’re a part of to start the search, but I think you shouldn’t stop til you’ve actually found it.

So my question to you is, what has your experience been like? Has worship been positive or negative? Do you really meet God there?