Limited Balance

“As worship leaders, how do you balance between allowing the spirit to lead, while maintaining a structure during a service?”

This tweet frustrated me.

The theology of worship implicit in this soundbite is thinly veiled; Spirit led worship is always spontaneous, chaotic and surprising. Spirit led worship is when we abandon the carefully prepared setlist and ad-lib, because the Spirit told us to, til our hearts have had their fill of the warm fuzzy confusion.

To imply that carefully prepared and planned worship cannot by definition be Spirit-led because it is essentially too planned and structured seems to be missing the point somewhat. The suggestion from such a theology is that the Holy Spirit is temperamental unpredictableness, totally unprepared, intent on causing chaos and happy to disregard any plans we may have spent time working on. However, this doesn’t sound like God the Holy Spirit I see working in the Bible; the God Spirit who, in Creation, brought order and structure out of shapeless chaos; the Spirit who, at Pentecost, systematically included and engaged everyone present in taking the message of Christ to the masses; the Spirit who empowers and partners with human beings to build the kingdom of God in any number of creative ways.

So, my response to the aforementioned tweet was “Does the Spirit not inspire the writing of songs, prayers and the order of service? Does he not partner with us?” and in terms of our worship being Spirit-led “He leads our worship long before the service starts and more than just the spontaneous bits we give him credit for!”

If we truly sit down and prayerfully plan our worship times, using material that has been inspired and crafted with the Spirit’s inspiration and guidance, and if we lead with sensitivity and a desire to see people encounter God together (whatever that may look like at any given occasion or setting) then the whole process is Spirit-led and therefore the outcome cannot be anything but Spirit-led.


2 thoughts on “Limited Balance

  1. ” if we TRULY sit down and PRAYERFULLY plan our worship times………”. The two important words are highlighted above. When these two as in place, our worship can be described as ‘Spirit – led’. But if these two are missing, then , I’m afraid we are just wasting our time.

    The reason why the Church has become impotent and powerless, is because we have so many ” experts and meticulous planners”. We spent so much time planning and using our human brains but at the end of it all achieve nothing. Too many professors in the church today using their head knowledge to direct the services. Holy Spirit has been caged by legalism and so human wisdom, which is foolishness to God.

    During Pentecost, Holy Spirit came SUDDENLY on the disciples of Jesus’s without any meticulous planning!. Planning is good but we must and should rely and ask Holy Spirit to lead and direct our worship services. Sensitivity is important in our walk with God. Too many times we prepared and stick to our preparations that we missed the leading of the Spirit. It is good to always remember that with all our preparations, without God’s help, we are destined to fail. After all, it is not he that wills or runs but God that shows mercy. Holy Spirit is the one that works in us both to will and to fulfill God’s purpose in our
    Iives. Finally, let’s trust the Lord with all our hearts and rely not in our understanding (or our sermon notes or worship styles) . In our ways we must always akckpnowledge Him and He will surely direct our worship services.

    1. Some good points Jonathan.
      I would argue though that Pentecost was more planned than we often like to think. Jesus clearly told the disciples to wait in Jerusalem, clearly told them he would send the Holy Spirit and clearly told them they would receive power.

      I totally agree though; sensitivity to the Spirit is key in the planning, preparation and delivery of our services.

      Thank you for your comments. J

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