While studying for my dissertation about worship experiences and the technology involved in producing worship, I have learned a lot about worship that has been beneficial to me personally.
‘In matters of worship, community is no less important. In combining of our collective voices in song and prayer, we assure one another that God is present among us and that God is about God’s work in the world. When we sing, we are often singing ourselves into belief. As we repeat words and hear them repeated by the community, our faith is strengthened. However, when our voice has been taken away by the shock of grief, the disappointment of promises not kept, or the anger that still rises in our throats, the community sings for us and offers to God the words that we are unable to utter. When we are too bitter to pray, the community prays for us and lifts us up to God. In community we intercede for those around us and carry them to God when they cannot carry themselves.’ (Segler & Bradley, 2006, p. 87).
I have had worship experiences like this, experiences where I sang myself into belief, I remember doing so with ‘Like a Lion’ by David Crowder Band and ‘We Crown You’ by Fee, around this time last year right after I tried to become agnostic, but the fact is that Jesus wouldn’t let me because I kept being reminded of what he had done for me. Before that time, I had never before heard either of those two songs, and I sang myself into belief and declared the truth in those songs with tears running down my face.
My faith has been strengthened many times by singing worship songs in church. It’s also true that many times I have been hurt and upset and have relied on the faith of others to get me through. It’s why I gather with my church family in family in worship every week. Sometimes my faith is a little stronger and I can declare my faith, or sing myself into belief, but there are some times when I have been hurt or whatever when I have to rely on others.
We are relational creatures; we were created to be relational, that’s why worshiping with other believers is so important. Going to church is important so that we have a group of believers that we get to know. I need to remember that sometimes people are hurting and they are relying on me to declare and praise God for them while they feel like they are drowning in their hurt. When tears well up in my friends eyes I can put my arm around her and pray with her, right in the middle of church. People have done it for me, even people that I didn’t even know. They saw me break down in tears during the service and they put their arms around me and prayed for me. We share our faith with each other, not just with unbelievers in hopes that they will come to Christ, but we share it with believers for when their faith is weak.
Community is vital to my faith, and I believe it is vital to everybody’s faith. Community is why I drag myself to church on the days when I just simply don’t want to be there. Community is why I go to church happily on the days that I do want to be there. Feeling God’s presence as a community is a totally amazing thing, experiencing him together, it’s awesome. It’s one of those things that has to be experienced as it’s indescribable.
We need each other, despite our differing beliefs, despite our different circumstances, despite our different issues. We need to confess our sins to each other, to pray for each other and with each other, to declare our faith with each other, to share our story with each other, to serve each other, to be strong when the other is weak, we need to praise with each other. We don’t exist in a vacuum, and we were never designed to. We need community.
Segler, FM & Bradley R, 2006, Christian Worship: It’s Theology and Practice, B&H Academic, Nashville.