We had the privilege of attending a Sunday morning church service while we were in the Dominican Republic last summer. It is always fascinating to me to be in other cultures and experience how they “do” church. For all practical purposes the DR was quite similar to any traditional church in the US. They had long wooden pews with burgundy cushions, fans buzzing overheard, a stage full of instruments, and a podium with a small cross on the front. People sat here and there throughout the congregation and scooted in to accomodate the ever-growing crowd.
When the music started, I was surprised to be able to recognize many of the songs, despite the language barrier that was being flashed across the screen. The worship leader was clearly passionate and the band was strong. The music was quite loud, which I prefer due to my not-so-perfect voice quality, so I felt as comfortable as I could in my new setting.
But what took me aback was the audience. Although the music was loud, it was as if there was an unspoken competition going on in my midst. It was a competition to see whose voice could get to Heaven the quickest. When the singing began it was if the people unleashed all of their love, all of their hurts, and all of their passions into the songs. Although the worship team had the microphones, the congregation’s enthusiasm swallowed the stage almost immediately.
You couldn’t help but feel the desperation in the room. Not a desperation to get their prayers answered or a desperation to get to lunch, but a desperation to let the King of Kings and Lord of Lords know that He is indeed worthy of worship. It challenged me because it is so easy to sing strong with a particular song you like or if you had a trying week, but there was no reprieve in the Dominican voices. From the first note of song to the last prayer, they turned off the world’s chatter and focused on a Holy God.
Tonight in Battle Ground and Wednesday night in Hazel Dell, we’ll be having our Simply Worship event from 7:00-8:00 pm. I have two challenges for you: 1. Attend one of those events. 2. Worship with a desperation that your voice would be heard by God. We were created to generously worship our awesome God and so give yourself permission to do so!