Last night I attended a Hillsong United concert at the Wang Theater in Boston. The Wang Theater seats 3600, and it seemed filled up with people pouring out their hearts before God – what a night… I was very blessed.
Here are some of my reflections on last night (mostly positive):
1. I love Hillsong United’s heart. You can say what you want about their worship style, but they are totally souled-out for Jesus! There’s a world of difference between a worship song led by someone who’s performing rather than truly worshipping God.
2. I REALLY appreciate worship songs that address the reality of suffering without simply saying “Jesus will fix it.” When we read the Psalms (the Hymnal of the Old Testament) we find all these times when the writer is really struggling with God’s “distance” and silence. Many of our worship songs seem to gloss over this “silent times” of faith and almost end up saying “You may be in the valley now, but don’t worry… God will take care of it.” I appreciated that some of Hillsong United’s songs really dealt with these silent times in a meaningful way. If you want a better idea what type of song I’m talking about (in a good way) then here’s a video to check out:
3. Altar calls that don’t point to the cross and call people to actually repent and give their lives to Jesus really frustrate me. Jesus is the Gospel. “God” is a very general word in today’s culture and people can easily interpret “God” to mean whatever they perceive Him to be… but “Jesus” is very specific. There is no Gospel without what Jesus did on the cross and through the empty grave. I don’t think every Gospel presentation and Altar call needs to be presented the same exact way, but they should include at least two elements to be affective: First, they need to be Cross-Centered, and Second, they need to call people to Repentance and not simply confession of sin (I can say “Sorry that I’ve sinned” without committing myself to Jesus… but I can’t repent without doing that).
4. I’m getting older... there were moments when I felt like I was on the outside looking in because I didn’t get the worship experience others were feeling. This really helped me identify with some of the older generations in my own church who are pretty ambivalent about the contemporary worship we’re trying to incorporate at Emmanuel. There was one point in particular when people were singing “Woah woah woah” with arms raised high and clearly were being “moved,” but I just didn’t get it. I don’t mean this as a judgement or anything… I just didn’t get it and felt like an old fuddy-duddy for a few minutes.
5. I was challenged to ask “How does some of this translate to serving churches in their worship services?” Some of the songs were great songs declaring who God is and what He’s done and what He promises,etc… but I couldn’t help thinking “How do you get up and preach a sermon after this song?” Maybe I’m even more old-school than I realize (which I just may be!), but I firmly believe the sermon ought to be the focal point of the Christian worship service: bringing the Word of God (Scripture) to the people of God to call them to live righteous, humble, godly lives. I don’t think it’s wrong or bad for there to be worship songs that you would only use for “special” worship services occasionally, but this was just one of my thoughts from the night I thought I’d share.
6. Revival in New England is on more peoples hearts than I realize. To my knowledge, every nation-wide revival in America has roots in New England. I don’t want to be a “crazy” Christian… but I really am praying that God would do a might work in our nation through the least likely place (Boston!).