By Sean Dennis – Worship Leader – Downtown Campus
I Miss Singing Together
Gathering together in person to worship God each week is one of the rhythms I’m most looking forward to post-quarantine. There’s nothing quite like worshiping together as God’s family through music, and I miss it.
But, I’ve come to realize that this time of physical separation is an opportunity for me to expand my definition of worship, and to lean into the discipline of individual worship.
Broadly defined, worship is the whole-life response to God’s immeasurable beauty. Seeing worship this way helps me be more creative about the many forms it might take, beyond singing or gathering as a group. And lately, in our new socially-distanced world, I’ve been challenged to include worshiping on my own as a regular practice.
Why Should We Worship Alone?
Ultimately, we worship in all seasons, because in all seasons Jesus is worthy of our praise. For this reason, Scripture is full of commands to worship. And when we worship, we are formed to be more like Christ.
Especially in this particular season, worship is an invitation to cry out to our Heavenly Father, asking Him to calm our anxieties and provide for us and others. It’s a chance to participate in what the Spirit is doing in and through us.
Worship is a discipline and a crucial element of the Christian diet, just like Bible reading, confession, and prayer. Calling it a “discipline” doesn’t mean it’s a drudgery, but it does imply that a certain level of intentionality is required!
How Do We Worship Alone?
Practicing Revelation and Response
I have heard worship described as having two parts: Revelation and Response. God reveals Himself to us, and we respond. Understanding this two-way dialogue is crucial for participating in authentic worship. And individual worship is a chance to lean into both of these in unique ways.
During individual worship, I can name specifically who God has shown Himself to be to me, and what He has done for me. I have found that the more personal and intimate my relationship with God is, the more I respond authentically in praise. Sometimes worship songs name who God is and what He has done in more general terms. These words are true! And, God’s glory is magnified even more when we name the specifics of who He is and what He has done in and around us. When we do this, we’re able to put skin on God’s goodness and faithfulness, whether we’re worshiping alone or together.
I want to suggest three ways we can lean into the “revelation” half of worship:
- Read Scripture
We have God’s words for us in our hands! If you want to see Him more clearly, getting to know the amazing story of the Bible is the best place to start.
- Practice listening during prayer.
Even though our schedules may have slowed down, our thoughts probably haven’t. Make mental space to listen to and hear from the Holy Spirit, taking time to allow Him to bring truth to mind.
- Keep a prayer journal.
Write down specific requests and revisit them to see how God has answered. Make a list of how you have seen the love and faithfulness of Jesus in the past.Personally, I am so much more eager to respond in worship when I have done the important pre-work of exploring revelation!
- Read Scripture
There are so many ways we can respond in worship. For one thing, you can tune in to our online church services. Sing loud, stand up, and push through the awkwardness. Follow this Spotify playlist of some of my favorite worship tunes and sing along.
Outside of Sunday mornings, if you’re musical, pick up that instrument and sing! It doesn’t matter if you don’t normally serve in church this way. Make it a practice to worship in song at home on a regular basis. If you need resources like chord charts and song ideas, please reach out to me or any of the worship leaders at Christ Community. We would love to help!
And, those of us who live with family or roommates have the special opportunity to keep practicing corporate worship in person. Let’s lead each other in worship through song.
What If I’m Not Musical?
If music doesn’t come naturally to you, you’re not excluded from this type of worship. Here are three ways you can still participate:
- Sing to the best of your ability.
Worship through song is not about our skill, but the outpouring of our affection to God. Even if you think you don’t sound good, remember that you’re God’s son or daughter. The sound of your voice brings Him joy.
- Lift up your hands.
If worship is a whole-life response to God, it includes our bodies. In fact, the Bible encourages us to lift up our hands, bow down, shout and sing, clap our hands in praise. Whenever you’re listening to worship music, I’d encourage you to try this. From personal experience, I can tell you that often an outward expression has an effect on my heart.
- Share stories with those around you.
This might be as simple as a text message or a comment on a video call. “This morning I read about the way God loves us like a good father, and that really encouraged me.” Or, “Do you remember when God provided that job for you?” This is worship.
Don’t Miss This Opportunity!
If you’re like me, you may be tempted to close your eyes and focus on just enduring this season of quarantine. There is so much frustration, pain, and longing in this time—how could anything good come of it?
But, the longer I walk with Jesus, the more I realize He is always at work. He is making newness in every season. And in every season, He is on the throne. Let’s worship Him for that.