The following article is a guest post from our good friend, Dr. Vernon Whaley, dean of the School of Music at Liberty University. This is part of the Building Strong Worship Leaders Rick Warren’s Ministry Toolbox that Next Level Worship is presenting in partnership with Pastors.com.
Did you know that when you and I worship Jesus, God begins a work of change in our lives? God is in the business of transforming lives. He transforms us from old to new, dead to living, hurting and broken to healed and restored. Jesus told his disciples that he came to mend the broken-hearted and set the captive free. When Jesus does His work of transformation, He changes sinners into worshipers of the Most High God. Mentoring worship leaders should include opportunities for them to experience transformational worship.
At Liberty’s School of Music, we strongly encourage our students to connect personally with God in worship. For example, several of our worship leadership classes begin with a time of musical worship, often led by students. Not only are these vertical worship experiences good opportunities for the students who lead them, more importantly they help to mold everyone in the class. Borrowing from an old saying, true worship of God needs to be caught, more than just taught.
Transformation, alteration, conversion, revolution, makeover, and adjustment are just a few of the words we use in the English language to describe the process of change. These words can be used as a noun to describe a desired outcome. As a transitive and intransitive verb, they can demonstrate a process of becoming different or of passing from one state of thinking to another.
The Process of Change
“Change” is a fascinating word. Change is used 43 times in 42 verses in the Bible. This is the word used in 1st and 2nd Corinthians and Hebrews that deals with the change that takes place when we are transformed at the resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:51-52; 2 Corinthians 3:18; Hebrews 1;12). “ . . . We are made new . . . We become new creatures . . . The old things have gone; everything is made new!” (2 Corinthians 5:17 NCV italics mine).
Some of us are afraid of change. But, God is in the business of transforming us into His image—changing us—through our worship of Him. Consider the process of transformation. It’s more “turning over a new leaf.” Maybe words like renovate, convert, restore, switch, mend, and even re-establish or refurbish communicate this transformation principle.
Our worship—our demonstration of love for God, our adoration of God, our exaltation of God, all we experience privately and corporately when with the Lord—should be so engaging, so personal, so defining that when we leave God’s presence, we are different; we are changed. Be assured, it’s not the worship songs we sing, prayers we pray, sermons we deliver, engaging and moving video about missions we watch, offerings we bring, invitations we give or the testimony we share that transforms our lives.
Actually, our acts of worship don’t do anything to change us. But, it is when we worship—when we give ourselves totally without reservation to the Lord—when we focus on the Lord alone and rid ourselves of the distractions of this ungodly, self-centered, self-consuming world—it is then, during those moments of self examination and solitude—that the Holy Spirit begins to break down the bitterness, anger, self-promoting attitudes, and the spirit of greed in our hearts. And, it is this kind of transformation that changes a life, family, church and nation. It is this kind of transformational worship that Jacob experienced at Bethel. He wrestled with God all night. In the morning, he was a different person (Genesis 32:22-31). Jonah experienced transformation while in the belly of the fish. He repented of his selfishness. God honored his prayer and changed him (Jonah 1-2).
Ezekiel was transformed by his worship. The bashful prophet was transformed as he saw the glory of God (Ezekiel 1:28). Ezekiel fell on his face and worshiped. The experience changed him forever. Isaiah experienced transformational worship “In the year that King Uzziah died” (Isaiah 6:1 NIV). He saw the Lord high and lifted up, exalted, seated on a throne, and the train of the Lord’s robe filled the temple. Isaiah was never the same after the experience.
Saul on the road to Damascus was forever transformed as he worshiped Jesus. And, like Jacob centuries before, he emerged from the experience with a new name—Paul. Peter experienced transformational worship. Change came on the day 120 people gathered in an upper room and were filled with the Holy Ghost (Acts 2:1-41). It was when Peter and the others were in the middle of focused worship that God blessed them with his presence. At that moment, Peter experienced transformational worship and was forever changed. John the Revelator was transformed as he saw heaven in all its splendor and watched Jesus take His rightful place as the Lord of Heaven.
John experienced a life-altering, mind-changing, heart-transforming work of the Holy Spirit as he witnessed people from all tribes, tongues and nations gather around the Throne of God to worship the Lamb who sits upon the Throne.
Where Change Starts So, have you experienced transformational worship for yourself? You can! Have you prayed for your team to experience transformational worship? Are you leading them to worship God personally and intimately? You need to! This kind of transformation—this level of true change—is the result of lives given to worship of Jesus. And the change in you and your church will be remarkable.
About This Series: The articles in this Building Strong Worship Leaders series are written by church leaders committed to intentionally training people about worship. Their churches are reaping the benefits—and they gladly pass on ideas and suggestions of how your church can too! This series is presented by Pastors.com, in partnership with Next Level Worship, a ministry providing quality worship discipleship resources to churches. Go to http://www.NextLevelWorship.com to register for free coaching webinars for the Pastors.com community.