In 1984, many decades ago, I switched from attending a traditional church to a Charismatic church. The charismatic movement was in full swing in 1984 and growing in momentum.
Along with many theological changes I embraced upon switching, one of the biggest changes was in music. I changed from singing hymns to choruses of praise and worship. Incorporations of praise and worship music is one of the lasting legacies of the Charismatic movement. The 1970s and 80s saw record labels emerge including Maranatha Music, Integrity Music and Vineyard Worship. The 1990s and 2000s continued the trend with labels from International House of Prayer, Hillsong, Morningstar Ministries, Bethel Music, Jesus Culture, and countless others. The Charismatic movement changed how the church worshipped around the world.
Praise music is now a staple of modern churches. Praise tears down depression, breaks strongholds, and brings people closer to God. Instead of singing about God as hymns primarily do, it taught us to sing to God. It is a walking out of Psalms 100:4, “Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name.” Praise brought us through the gates of the temple into his courts. It has been a major advancement in our expression of faith to God.
But I want to propose that praise is not the endpoint of what God is doing in music. Why? The courts of the temple are not the Holy of Holies. We want to go past the courts into the Holy of Holies where his presence is. We were made to see him face to face. That is why the veil leading into the Holy of Holies was torn in two at the cross.
Praise is a wonderful vehicle for getting us started on our journey and will always be a part, if not the first part, of most worship services. Praise is exciting, it leads us to clapping, dancing, waving banners, shouting, etc. But if we stop there, we will miss the best part, being face to face with Him in intimacy. It’s time for an additional component in our services that goes beyond praise. A component that brings us into intimacy with him.
A wedding is a happy occasion. The wedding starts off with upbeat organ music announcing the bride and then comes a fun, loud, exciting reception with dancing and food. This is symbolic of most music services today. But what if the bride and groom at the end of the reception thought everything was over and they went home. They started doing chores, going to work, etc. We know that the reception is a buildup for the intimacy of the bedchamber. In the bedchamber they aren’t dancing, jumping, and shouting. They enter into intimacy with quieter voices, vulnerability, transparency, and soft talk. The praise of the reception time is fun, but it is not the endpoint. Intimacy is.
I am sure that you get the analogy of what I am saying with our music services. We love praise and will forever have it in our churches. But if we stop there, we have stopped in the middle of our journey through the temple. We have stopped before the intimacy could happen. Have you ever been in a wonderful praise service, and then the last song comes. It is about to end, but you don’t want to end, but you don’t know what else to do? You want more, but you don’t think it is a continuation of what you have been doing. When this happens, it is indicative to start the transition of going into his presence with intimacy.
Praise is the beginning not the end. If we understand this, we will learn through time and experimentation to transition to a quieter more reflective time between the individual and the Father. A time where the music fades into the background, and we enter his presence with quieter voices, vulnerability, transparency, and soft talk.
This change in music has started. You can find pioneers doing it now. He is leading us to build on praise that moves into intimacy. This will require new music, new teaching, and guidance on how to be intimate with the Father. This wave of music is teaching us to be with God. It is a big change, maybe bigger that it was to go from hymns to choruses.
There are many metaphors the Bible uses for Christians including soldiers, farmers, and living stones. But the metaphor that endures throughout eternity is that we are the Bride of Christ. Enjoy the journey of discovering him.
The Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” Revelation 22:17a (NIV)