Greetings to all members of the Academy Christian Church worship team! Greetings, also, to all who may stumble upon this blog post! A little explanation is in order…
The worship team at ACC is currently reading the book, Pure Praise, by Dwayne Moore (copyright 2009, Group Publishing). As Worship Pastor, I am using my blog (Graphic Grace) to write weekly thoughts about the book and invite my team members to enter the conversation. I hope this “medium” will serve the purpose of providing ample time and space for the truths we are learning, through Pure Praise, to soak into our hearts and minds in very spiritual and practical ways. In short, I really hope our group grows closer to God and each other through this experience!
First of all, I want to interject my opinion about the book’s author, Dwayne Moore. He is the founder and leader of “Next Level Worship” (nextlevelworship.com), which is an organization built to provide discipleship resources to those who participate in worship leadership. He’s also authored Pure Praise for Teens and a brand new book entitled Heaven’s Praise. I called his organization a couple months ago, asking about if they could sell me a box of books for me to give to my team. To my surprise, I got a return phone call from Dwayne himself! He was grateful and humbled by my desire to purchase so many books for my team members. My immediate impression of Dwayne was, “this guy’s legit!” I was impressed that he took the time to call and spend a few minutes on the phone just trying to get to know me – a fellow worship leader.
I guess you can say he had me at ‘hello.’ LOL
In addition to authoring several books, running a full-time ministry, being a full-time father and husband and leading worship at his church, Dwayne also gives back to worship leaders in a very special way! He teaches on online class every year, entitled “Online Worship Leader Training.” I am currently a student in his class and I highly endorse it! Dwayne is practical, skilled, experienced and everything else that you would want in a teacher on worship ministry. But Dwayne’s heart for worship runs even deeper than his talent and skill; Dwayne’s heart for God and for God’s people seems to be the center from which all else flows.
So, without further ado, let’s talk about week #1 from Pure Praise.
I was especially challenged by the “Three directions of worship: Inward, Outward, Upward”. I’m grateful that we had more than one day to fully comprehend the concept and allow God to reveal to us our weaknesses as well as our strengths. My personal confession is that I am best at the “upward” direction of worship but not so good at the “inward” or the “outward.” I can say what I feel about God and express His truths quite easily. I have no problem standing on stage and leading in “upward” expressions of worship. But if I don’t internalize worship, I may find that I’m not loving God with my whole heart, soul and mind. What does that mean? I’m glad you asked. Go ahead and look it up on page 17 and 18!
In addition, my love for God must find an expression in my “service” by sharing my faith with those who need to know Christ and helping others in need. (pp 18-19)
I’m not saying I never get these other two areas right. Simply, I can get caught in a rut of just paying “lip service” to God. I love what Dwayne writes on pg. 18 about 2 Chronicles 16:9 (a long time favorite verse of mine). He says, “I find that god is searching the earth not to support those who sing the best or shout the loudest. Rather, he seeks for those “whose hearts are fully committed to him.” As worshippers and worship leaders, that must be our foremost goal. Without that commitment, all other expressions of worship are actually sickening to God.”
The entire foundation for Dwayne’s book, Pure Praise, is 2 Chronicles 20:1-30. I don’t want to take the time here to detail the chapter. Suffice it say, everyone who is going through the book will need to read and re-read this passage of scripture over and over again. It is a great base from which to understand the importance of praise and worship.
I have a few questions to throw out to those who are reading this book. Feel free to comment. Let’s get some good discussions going!
1. Has anyone ever had an experience similar to what Dwayne talks about on the bottom of page 23? (“Isaiah went from a downcast and reluctant worship spectator to a willing participant in anything God wanted him to do. He didn’t even wait to be singled out. He enthusiastically volunteered to go. That’s the amazing change God can make in people’s lives through worship. Perhaps you’ve been in a service in ‘the sanctuary of God’ when people started coming to the altar during a powerful moment of worship without any formal invitation from the pastor.”) What was your experience like? Have you been longing to see that kind of outpouring toward God again? Could that happen at ACC?
2. What worship song expresses your praise and thanksgiving to the Lord in a powerful way? Why do you think that song in particular has such a profound effect on you?
3. I love the line “…ask God to show up and show off this weekend during your church’s worship services. Ask him to change lives – starting with your own.” That’s a bold prayer. But it is one I’m willing to pray. How about you? What are some things that God may be asking you to change? Which direction are you most weak in (Upward, Inward, Outward)? How can we support you and pray for you?
Let’s start talking…