A few weeks ago, I grabbed the Indelible Grace live CD, The Hymn Sing. (You can check out the review here.) As I mentioned, one of my favorite aspects of the record is the introductions by Kevin Twit of Reformed University Fellowship.
I was struck by what Kevin had to say about the unique nature of hymns: “Worship is formative one way or the other.”
My heart leapt when I heard him say this because it was such a concise way of saying what we try to do at Bethel each Sunday with our singing. As soon as I heard it, I wanted to use it. It was such a simple, easy to understand way of starting a conversation about the importance of theologically rich singing in congregational worship.
A week or two later, I used Twit’s line to communicate the value of songs – not just on Sunday – but every day, in every place. It did seem to encourage our folks and invite them into the song a bit better, but I was surprised when someone found me after to thank me for the service.
I shook his hand, found out a little bit about him and talked for a few minutes. He had really enjoyed the worship and wanted to say so before heading back to his home (out of town.) And this is what he said:
“That thing about worship being formative? That was great! I’ve never thought of it that way.”
I appreciate this guy’s honesty because I don’t think we naturally approach worship in this way. Most of the people we lead have a solid grasp of what worship is in its purest form – giving glory to God, but I’m not sure we really think of the things we’re singing as being formative in our spiritual development. And as Twit says, it’s formative – one way or another.
Worship leaders, let’s endeavor to sing songs and pray prayers and read scriptures with a ‘formative’ perspective. Each week, we’re ascribing, but we’re also describing. Plan your sets to do a good job of accurately describing God!
Next week, we’ll talk about how to test the formative qualities of our worship!