Bethel Worship Night Tour – Jacksonville, FL
Let’s just say it’s been a while …
A while where I was free to dive head-first into praise and worship without the responsibility of leading
A while where I had an extended time to soak in an atmosphere that I was created for
A while where I was the one receiving fully instead of giving
And I’m here to say … “it was good”. My soul is stirred and my spirit filled.
Fresh off the 2015 Iron Man Men’s Retreat from SSCC, I traveled down to Jacksonville to participate in the Bethel Music worship night tour. Honestly, I was tired and although I was expectant, there was a part of me that was struggling with the “I’ve been there and done that” attitude. It’s an attitude that comes up in my heart many times after attending and leading thousands of worship services. It’s an attitude that has a stench of arrogance and price that God has been revealing in my heart.
It’s no secret that the worship culture at Bethel leans into what most would call a charismatic feel. I’ve always hated that label for the very reasons of the imagery that probably comes to mind when you read this sentence. Yet, that’s my background – that’s my home. Passionate, unbridled praise and worship is my happy place. Spontaneous musical flow where a brand new song and prophetic-filled messages come forth are deep in my well.
It’s also no secret that the 60-70 minutes of time we have at my home church on Sunday mornings isn’t modeled this way. I knew that when I signed up. There’s a philosophy of ministry here at SSCC that is true and it works and the Holy Spirit moves in powerful ways in our church. I’ve also been around the block enough to know that you can never compare a “worship night” event to most Sunday corporate gatherings for the simple reason that the people who attend a worship night are, for the most part, passionate about expressive praise and worship.
That being said, I felt myself remembering what it felt like to push further and deeper in my worship. Those are the cliche’ words that people throw out that confuse people and if used carelessly, tend to cast judgment on a worship service that doesn’t “look or feel” like the Bethel worship last night. For me, I simply mean I had that time through song and reflection (I sang a lot and I just got on my knees and listened a lot .. prayed a lot … ) to unwind and find myself progressing into a powerful encounter with God.
My heart was stirred … not to try and come back to St. Simons and recreate a blow-out worship night (although we do that several times per year). My heart was stirred with the fact and reality that God’s Presence is available to me like that EVERY … SINGLE … DAY. It simply requires my time and effort.
I drove over an hour to get there.
I stood in line for almost as long as we drove — a line of expectant, hungry-for-God worshipers that wrapped around this huge facility.
I stood/sat/kneeled on that floor for a few hours.
Essentially, I used an event as a catalyst to pursue God’s presence.
I quickly realized that the deep, intimate place I found myself in was freely available to me in my home … in my car .. in my studio … on our beach … and I was grieved that I’ve allowed LIFE to rob me of consistently making this time of worship a priority.
At the same time, I was stirred to return … and prayerfully consider a venue or environment where I could flex those old muscles of leading from a more spontaneous, prophetic mantle for no other reason than ministering to God and allowing Him to minister back to us. I am eager to setup a room, gather a few trusted musicians and vocalists who can flow, and invite whomever wants to come … and just worship. Sing whatever songs come to mind. Play and not sing. Sing the new song. Pray and respond to what God says.
Honestly, I’ve been a bit burned out on the produced, huge worship nights. They are powerful and give us that mountain top experience, yet they are physically, spiritually, and emotionally demanding on our team. I am ready to prayerfully start planning the next one … but at the same time, I want to chase after more of my own time in God’s Presence and a more casual, less-produced venue where the only real effort in making it happen is sitting down, plugging in, opening the door, and letting it flow ….
To the folks at Bethel … thanks for refreshing my soul. I know from experience how HIGH you are, yet, how DRAINED you are. You refreshed my soul and stirred my spirit. You handed me a shovel so that I could dig up some wells that have been filled in for a long time. (Genesis 26:18)