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Music in Worship

Our heritage of His power and presence

STEVE PHIFER

OUR PENTECOSTAL heritage is that of powerful preaching and spiritual worship. We must remember our hallmark: "Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, saith the Lord." We have neither the might of organization nor the power of personality to bring about the harvest. It will be a work of God’s Spirit through us. Therefore our worship must be spiritual and our preaching dynamic. Our corporate worship experience is vital to the harvest.

Significant things happen as we worship in the Spirit. We move closer to God’s will. We become united as we praise, worship, and pray together. God lives in our praise, and His kingdom comes. By our obedience His will is done. Through this ministry of pulpit and pew people commit themselves to Christ, are filled with the Spirit, and are called into the ministry. For the sake of Christ and the ripened harvest field, let us be as our forefathers were a people of praise and a fellowship of worshiping evangelists. It is our Pentecostal heritage. It is biblical.

Our music ministry in worship must possess three characteristics for the harvest: It must be prophetic, pastoral, and potent.

Music that is prophetic

Prophetic in worship means to forthtell God’s Word. With biblical content in our songs our music forthtells the Word of God. Ephesians 5:19 exhorts us to sing "psalms and hymns and spiritual songs." This means we are to sing Scripture songs, songs of prayer, and songs born in the heart of the Holy Spirit and touched with His power.

How do we apply these biblical songs to our services? Sing about God. Select new songs and old songs, hymns and choruses, anthems and gospel songs. Choose songs filled with descriptions of His character and deeds. Sing unto God with songs of prayer and praise, speaking to the Lord.

We must prayerfully plan our music in worship if we expect God’s power to rest upon it. God is not obligated to bless our plans, but He is eager to bless His own. As we pray, God will show us His purposes for our services. We can be confident of His blessing on our music when our plans have been forged in the furnace of prayer.

Music that is pastoral

The purpose of the pastor-teacher is to prepare God’s people for works of service. This applies to every lesson, rehearsal, planning session, arrangement, instrumental part, budget proposal, and seasonal production.

Isaiah prophesied that God’s kingdom will become a place of eternal excellence (Isaiah 60:15). The harvest demands this excellence. The church must become a place of encouragement, training, creativity, and joy. God’s people want to honor Him with their gifts, and they want leadership to show them the way.

Musicians must set an example by continually learning new skills. Choral people can learn about orchestra, and instrumental people learn about choir. Music readers can learn to improvise and by-ear players learn to read music.

The "highways and mountains" of Isaiah 40 challenge us all. We each have valleys of skill that need to be built up, and mountains of attitudes that need to come down. None of us is exempt from crooked places in our procedures that need to be aligned with the Word, or rough places in our routines that need to be smoothed. The glory of the Lord will be revealed when He finds a people willing to build such a road. "It’s good enough for church music," will not bring in the harvest.

As we build God’s kingdom, excellence will be accompanied by the joy Jesus promised, the joy of the branch in the vine, and the joy of productivity. A pastoral atmosphere encourages the flow of creativity from the vine through His branches. Our joy is to carefully tend the branches and ensure their full fruition. This joy and excellence of God’s people will touch the world.

Music that is powerful

Spiritual power comes to our music when we add humility to our excellence. Isaiah 57:15 and 66:1,2 assure us that brokenness will admit us into God’s throne room. The pathway to powerful music is found both in the rehearsal hall and in the prayer closet.

There is potential in our stated priorities of mission: minister to God, minister to the church, minister to the world. When worship (our relationship with God) is top priority, we effectively edify His body and powerfully speak to our world. We effectively intercede for them and break the chains of darkness that bind them. Balanced public worship, in spirit (praise) and in truth (preaching), is our most powerful corporate witness. The goals are before us, and our mission is defined. It is time to act upon our commitment.

Let us minister to God. In our public worship, corporateness must be primary, not preliminary. Musicianship and sensitivity to the Holy Spirit flow together as we experience the presence of the Most High.

Let us minister to the church. Creativity and skill unite as our people become joyful, fruitful branches in the vine. Together we must "arise, shine for [our] light has come" (NIV).

Let us minister to the world. As God touches us in our worship and discipleship, He will then touch our world through our music. He calls us as His musicians to see the ripened harvest fields stretching to the far horizons.