The preaching had ended, and the arena was full. The pastor walked onto the stage and the music team sat poised, ready like elite forces eager to take ground. The atmosphere was charged, pregnant with the presence of God. All eyes were on our fearless leader as the air is sucked out of the room, and God sat on our worship.
The next 20 minutes was an orchestration of worship that felt as though we had stepped out of an arena of 8,000 into the hallways of heaven. We caught some of it on an album a few years back. The track called "Kiss Towards" is a constant reminder of how powerfully God wants to move in our praise and worship.
I'm so thankful for senior pastors who are passionate about the presence of God. At Planetshakers, Pastors Russell and Sam Evans are our churches' finest worship leaders and, in my opinion, the greatest in the world. I've observed through the years how they can plan so precisely yet allow God to take the reins and lead us right to where He is. I watch our staff when our pastors walk on the stage as they pay close attention to Pastors Russell and Sam find "the moment of the meeting" and agree with heaven's agenda to see a powerful move of God.
I want to share with you three critical things I've observed being one of the praise and worship leaders at Planetshakers. I'm always learning, but I am so glad I have great "generals" as examples in my life.
1) Adopt God's method for praise and worship.
There are so many differing opinions on what praise and worship is, and truthfully, I feel as though its roar has been lulled to sleep in the global church. God's Word gives us a clear definition of what it means to praise:
Psalm 100:4 says, "Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, and into His courts with praise."
Psalm 47:1 says, "Clap your hands, all you people! Shout to God with a joyful voice."
These are some of many kingdom guidelines to praise the way God loves to be praised. It was Israel's obedience to shout that brought down the walls of Jericho. Despite what your flesh says, the Bible says God loves someone who worships in spirit and in truth. Therefore, how we feel—the flesh—is not the basis of praise. Who God is and how He likes to be praised, according to the Word, is how we should praise.
2) Praise and worship characterize a kingdom culture.
"But You are holy, O You who inhabits the praises of Israel. Our fathers trusted in You; they trusted, and You did deliver them" (Ps. 22:3).
When we lead people into praise and worship, we are bringing them into an environment of kingdom order. This Scripture tells us God abides (sits on) our praise. A praise and worship leader ushers people into "heaven on earth."
Here's one of thousands of testimonies we have from a recent meeting:
An 11-year-old girl who was 90 percent deaf in one ear suddenly noticed that the music was excessively loud while in praise and worship. Then the realization occurred she had been healed! Since then, doctors have verified and confirmed she has 100 percent hearing in both ears.
Paul and Silas, imprisoned in the midnight hour, sang hymns of praise to God. What happened next was supernatural. The cell doors flung open not only for them but for others. As leaders, we must know praise is not only a weapon that brings freedom to us but releases freedom to others.
3) Praise and worship evoke an encounter with God.
The Bible says that where Jesus was honored, He was able to perform miracles. I believe it's the same with His presence. Whenever we lift Him up, giving Him honor, He is right there with us, able to do whatever He wants to do.
This incredible privilege, whether you're a praise and worship leader or simply passionate about it, it is an "all in" deal. I love the response of the cripple at the gate called Beautiful when he received his miracle in Acts 3:8: "Jumping up, he stood and walked and entered the temple with them, walking and jumping and praising God."
His response to God's work in His life was proportioned to the miracle he'd received. Those who are forgiven much (healed of much in this case) love much and usually have no problems showing it. I have three beautiful boys. (Our third son was born earlier this year.) As their daddy, my favorite time of day is when I get home from work. My two oldest boys run, leap, cuddle and kiss me like crazy! They don't care what it looks like. All they know is Daddy's home. It's impossible to love someone with your whole heart and not show it. The Father did this with Jesus and withheld nothing by sending Him to the cross, raising Him in a glorious victory. Perhaps praise and worship, using our whole being—mind, body and soul—are indeed a fitting response for all He has done.
Bj Pridham is worship pastor at Planetshakers Church in Melbourne, Australia, and a member of Planetshakers Band (planetshakers.com).
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