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When Worship is... Uncomfortable

When Worship is... Uncomfortable

This is the third post in a six-part series on worship.  Here are part 1 and part 2.  

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How often do we embrace uncomfortableness in worship? 

Leading worship and being part of a group of worshippers is a vulnerable experience.  Looking around there are people expressing themselves before God.  Whether they are grumbling and judgemental or laid out on their bellies expressing their adoration, it can be clearly seen by those around.  

Feeling free to worship openly takes time and has both its steps forward and steps back.  There are times and places where dancing feels free and natural and other times where rubbing your nose feels risky in case someone mistakes it for raising your hands! 

But worship leading can be even more vulnerable.  Not only can everyone see you worshipping, they are also aware if you mess up or miss a note or if you are not quite sure what you are doing.  

And actually, that is okay.  It is uncomfortable and that is good.  

So often we try to run and hide from discomfort, but staying can actually be a form of worship in itself. Because when I choose to close my eyes or raise my hands or drop to my knees, even though it feels uncomfortable, I am offering a sacrifice of praise that is beautiful to God.  When I continue playing the keyboard when I have started a song in the wrong timing rather than beat myself up over it and pull out, it forces me to focus on the real reason I am worshipping.  It forces me to examine my heart and admit it is not about me.  That I need to get back to focusing on Him.  

This past Sunday, Ronald was leading worship.  He read Psalm 47:1 out which says ‘Clap your hands, all you nations; shout to God with cries of joy’ and then he encouraged the group to give a shout of praise to God.  Yep, it was uncomfortable.  Yes, there was nervous laughter from some and enthusiasm from others.  Ronald was possibly feeling uncomfortable and vulnerable trying to encourage a group of sleepy lethargic people to open their mouths and shout out, but he did it anyway.  And entering into that joint experience of discomfort actually shifted something in our worship.  The worship was more passionate than it normally is - people sang out with confidence who normally don’t.  There was a sense of it being a corporate time of worship, not just a group of individuals coming together to sing some cute songs.  People were drawn in and actually entered into the worship from the beginning.  

So now, as a worship leader, sometimes, instead of trying to not offend people which is my natural tendency, I actually look for ways for people to become a little uncomfortable.  I try to encourage people to step out of their comfort zones of our sofas and get them to stand up, or ask people to express their prayers out loud or to share something God has put on their heart.  Because when people embrace the discomfort, or become lightly put out, it forces them to focus on why they are actually here. Who they are actually coming to worship.  

Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise – the fruit of lips that openly profess his name -  Hebrews 13:15


This is part 3 of a 6 part series of reflections of worship. 

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