Today I took a departure from my normally-scheduled Sunday programming. I decided to step away from my church-home to visit another church that I had been hearing much about. I had many opinions floating around in my head prior to attending the church. People told me that it was far away–even though I live in Brooklyn and the church is in Brooklyn. People told me that the praise and worship was subpar. Others told me the church was entirely too huge. Some people refused to disclose their thoughts of the church because they wanted me to go before they laid the smackdown on me.
With all that in mind I headed to the church, but I was careful to not let any of the information taint my experience.
The commute to the church was amazingly easy. The directions I received from the church via Hopstop clocked the commute in at 55 minutes but I got on the first of two trains at 8:45 and got to the church by 9:25–this includes the commute on a Shuttle Bus that replaced a train that wasn’t running.
I entered the church, which is quite colossal in size, and I wasn’t overwhelmed like people said I would be. I actually felt calm. When praise and worship began, I felt an awesome peace. People told me the praise and worship was dry but I found it to be incredibly moist. It was the kind of worship that was so simple and organic. A few singers and one person leading but the real choir was the congregation.
I couldn’t recall the last time I heard myself sing. I couldn’t even recall when last I heard a congregation sing because I am so used to people being scared to sing when they don’t have the choir to buffer their off-key voices. But today, I heard myself sing and I heard my neighbors sing as well.
There was also such a hush in the worship. Though we were all singing “To Worship You I Live” the atmosphere was still. I was actually able to have an internal dialogue with myself to talk about whether I really was living to worship the Lord. I reflected on whether I honestly and truly loved God. I just had an awesome time searching my soul for the deep things of the Lord.
That brings me to worship. I asked my friend before service started what his opinion of praise and worship was at the church and he said that it was “okay.” But of course his “okay” preceded the fact that we go to a church where the worship is considered to be “off the chain”. We have a dynamic praise team, a huge choir, and some of the best musicians in the industry. But as I stood there in the midst of one of the better worship experiences of my life it dawned on me that it isn’t up to any individual or any thing to cajole us into worship.
It should take no prodding from man for us to worship God and we shouldn’t rely on that particular song, that specific singer or that bass drop. We need nothing but broken and contrite spirits to worship the Lord. We don’t need a choir, we don’t need outstanding musicians, we just need open hearts and God. And this is all considering the fact that once upon a time people worshiped with next to nothing. They didn’t have soundboards, samples, mics, drums, guitars, etc.
So it was in the simplicity of worship and even the simplicity of the sermon that I was able to experience a refreshing. And I think that a return to simplicity is what the church needs. We’ve become entirely too accustomed to our hulking edifices, monstrous music ministries and hyped up preachers that we forgot how to appreciate it when it isn’t all of that.
When is the last time you simple worshiped or experienced “simple worship?”