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The Sound of Worship vs The Spirit of Worship


It is more important to cultivate the spirit of worship than the sound of worship.

The sound of worship is cultivated with our heads and our hands. The gifted, the trained, and the talented, regardless of the composition of character, can always excel in the sound of worship.

The spirit of worship, on the other hand, is proven excellent by a different measurement.

Truly excellent worship is cultivated by the direction of our hearts. The direction cannot be measured by notes, music sheets, or by tuners. It is measured in the secret ways in the secret places–a heart that yearns for God, a self-effacing humility in light of seeing a greater vision of God, a unifying camaraderie around a seeking people who are joyously experiencing a common glory, and a burning to see God’s Spirit dwell in our midst.

These things are not easily measurable but they are discernable. In my experience, there is often a difference in the meaningfulness of worship between a dry and high-performing masterpiece of musical precision amidst thousands versus an individual with a broken guitar singing their hearts before God.

It is true that such dichotomies often fail to reveal the whole truth but there is something about the simplicity of a true heart of worship that often lends such dichotomies to be so.

I find that true worship is often… a bit more raw, a bit more unrefined. It is because true worship will always hinge upon the zone between the barrier of my musical excellence and that place where God’s revelation dawns upon me to make me fail for words. Yes…true worship often makes me fail for words! …fail for chords, fail for sounds, fail for excellence, in whatever measurement we are measuring success or failure, for in the event when God’s invading glory overwhelms even our ability to be excellent often proves to be when true worship begins.

For all our obsession with stage excellence often governed by a naturalistic spirit, we must confess that it is tempting to lose the heart of worship. It is the tendency of humans to always veer towards religiousness. Religiousness exalts form over power and for all our fads, trends, bands, and heroes of worship, we can easily remove ourselves from a true place of worship by exalting those things.

So easily can they be idols. So readily therefore should we be able to tear them all down, for in tearing down the physical infrastructure, the true nature of the spiritual will always be revealed.

Can we worship without such sounds? Without such excellence? Without such instruments? Without such a stage or lights? Or have we lost what truly defines the sound of worship? Ah yes–I remember what it is–true worship is the sound of a beating heart before God bleeding for his glory!


Character and Power

We should not be impressed with people who have strong anointings or power who do not have a life of character. On the other hand, we cannot think a person with moral excellence is all that a Christian should be.

Jesus was neither a monk nor a showman.

Jesus was a miracle worker who operated with great power and Jesus lived a life of holiness who hated sin and loved righteousness.

We should always aspire both: character and power.

Character demonstrates the work of God within us to transform us into his likeness. And power witnesses to the glory of Jesus as the supreme God of the universe.

I want people to see the holiness of God through my life. Yet I want also want people to see the power of God as I lay hands on the sick, blind, and the demon-possessed. Both bear witness to God’s greatness, and both form the direction that we should strive to be as Christians.


‘In Jesus’ name’ means more than an ending to a prayer. It is in fact the attempt to do and be what He would do and be in that given situation. To gather in His name means that our gathering should look like it did when Jesus met with people two thousand years ago. If that is the correct definition, then how many of our gatherings are actually in His name?

Bill Johnson, Face to Face with God