This post, titled “What is Missional Worship?”, is the first in a short blog series that talks about Every Nation Music’s expression of worship. That being said, in the manner of MMA’s famous intro to events, “Here we go!”
I was recently asked this question: “Why do we sing our Every Nation Music songs (in our local churches)?” It was a great question, and I’m more than happy to answer it!
I’ve always been a serious music aficionado (everything from Bach to rock, and I’m also from a family involved in the professional entertainment industry—ummm, them, not me!). My first encounters with Christian events way back were memorable, but not always in a good way. The preaching was always impactful, but the music didn’t make as much of an impact. Now having been exposed to the Christian world for 35 years, one of the most notable changes has been how worship music has progressed so much!
During the late ‘80s & early ‘90s, a shift in the worship music sound began to take place. “Praise and worship,” as it was known, began to take on a contemporary style and sound. Church music was becoming “relevant to the unchurched.” It resulted in a revival of sorts, helping churches globally attract more people to services and events. It was an avenue for people to hear the gospel of Jesus being preached.
I refer to this style as “attractional worship.” The Holy Spirit anointed the new relevant style, the sound, and even the increasing skill levels in a powerful way, attracting many people and resulting in salvation from the preaching of the gospel of Jesus. Please note that it was only one of the things God used to bring in more people to church; it was not the only thing.
Early in the first decade of the millennium came a fresh wave of worship music that I refer to as “devotional worship.” Using cassette tapes to CDs, and eventually moving on to MP3 players and smartphones, people would play their music in their homes, cars, offices, gyms, or wherever they wanted, to fill themselves up in God’s presence, experience peace, healing, and encouragement, and strengthen their faith in Christ! It is indeed also an amazing move of the Holy Spirit.
Being in the ministry for many years now, I have noticed both “attractional” and “devotional” worship songs are about what God is doing in me and for me. For the most part, this is absolutely awesome. Rightly so, we should be singing His abundant goodness, grace and love in us and for us.
Stop and think now about some of your favorite praise and worship songs and get into last song syndrome (LSS) mode for a few moments. Reflect on the lyrics. Most of them are about what GOD is doing or what we want GOD to be doing in us and for us. We all certainly have been ministered to and strengthened in our faith because of these great expressions of worship music.
I believe the Holy Spirit is introducing and anointing another expression of worship music to us, which I refer to as “missional worship.” These songs express not only what God is doing or wants to do in us and for us, but what God wants to do through us as well!
After all, Jesus not only saves us, but He also sends us! Matthew 28:18-20 says, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, . . . and I am with you always to the end of the age.” Missional worship music expresses and encourages the Great Commission!
Acts 1:8 reminds us clearly that the Holy Spirit’s power is to come upon us (in us and for us), but also to overflow and empower us to be His witnesses (through us). “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”
Now, let me invite you to return into LSS mode, but reflect on the titles, lyrics and themes of some of our Every Nation Music songs:
- We Will Go (from Every Nation Music’s One EP)
- Pour Us Out (from Every Nation Music’s Find Rest EP)
- “Take my life, Lord, it is Yours…” (from Victory Worship’s Radical Love, off the full-length album of the same title)
- “From every nation every tongue, endless praise will be sung” (from Every Nation Music’s Rise Heart, off the Every Nation Music EP Wings and the Victory Worship full-length album Rise Heart)
- “We will follow You, there is no turning back…” (from Victory Worship’s Everlasting Glory, off the full-length album Rise Heart)
Just reviewing these words excites me as I type them! I hope it makes sense: missional worship is precisely why we want our Every Nation family to sing our Every Nation Music songs! Every Nation president and Victory founding pastor Steve Murrell calls ours a “missional movement.” And so, a missional movement must sing missional worship songs so that we can grow in our understanding of who we are, what we believe, and what we will do about what we believe. God is always working in us and for us, but also wants to work through us!
Stay tuned for our next blog post on missional worship!
Pastor Julius is married to Eilleen and dad to Isa, Nica, Bea, Ella, and Elijah.