Now that lectures have started up and we are in full on school mode, I will post each week a little update about the top ten points I learned from the lecture and also what I learned from just observing our lecturer! I will include some pictures to let you get a feel for what base life is like outside of class, and this week I will also share my own personal journey of how I was called to do a School of Worship!
Week 1 – Stephane Unger – The Foundation of Worship
Ten Main Points
- The mission is to connect people to God, to either share God with those who do not know Him or take believers deeper.
- We should respond like Peter in Acts 10, not Jonah! Start in obedience even when we don’t understand.
- We need to use all the talents God has given us, not bury any of them.
- The Spirit of God and the spirit of the world clash. We must learn to identity what is coming from who, and to choose what God says, not what the world says.
- The positive characteristics a worship musician should have include a passion for God, faith, being after His own heart, being honest about sinfulness, having a teachable spirit, not a critical spirit, having a group mindset, availability, humility, and a servant’s heart.
- The challenging characteristics often found in artists include, extreme emotional highs and lows, turning smalls things into big things, not hearing feedback well, subject to depression, overwhelmed by spiritual warfare, impulsive, rebellious, prideful, compare, exaggerate, disorganized, and have an all or nothing mindset. The most important thing is to be aware of and acknowledge these characteristics so we can hand them over to God!
- Music has POWER. It captures emotions and brings back emotional memory.
- Be like John the Baptist – Gather the people, bring them to Jesus, then disappear.
- We are not able to take people further than where we are: we must be worshipping God too, not just walking through the musical motions.
- A worshipper should aim to draw and motivate all people – paying attention to different ages, cultures, etc.
“It’s All About Balance”
The thing I learned most from Stephane, based on his words and actions, is what it looks like to search for and find the balance that is necessary to be a worshipper. Things that he shows great balance in:
– Taking his calling seriously and treating it as precious and important, while also not taking himself too seriously, but still finding enjoyment and laughter in the process, in the trials and triumphs.
– Loving God well and working on that relationship daily, while also having a desire to play his instrument well and working at that too.
– Serving God AND serving others – particularly the group being led in worship.
– Not just putting all his focus on one calling, but stewarding the other things God has given him well too. E.g. being a worship leader, a teacher, and a father!
What God Has Said To Me About Worship
My first experience with worship music as an adult, besides what I heard once a year at Christmas time, was listening to my next-door neighbor blast it and absolutely hating it. God later used worship music as He started softening my then atheist heart to think about Him. I would be driving along and only Christian radio stations would come on no matter how many times I slammed the ‘search’ button. I even remember thinking to myself when I first started going to church ‘Ok, maybe I will go to church, but I will NEVER like that awful Christian music.’ Oh my, how God can truly and completely change a person!! Fast forward a few months, and nothing delighted my soul quite like belting out songs to God all about His greatness, despite the fact that previously I would have rather jumped into a tank of sharks than sing aloud!
During Holy Spirit week of my Discipleship Training School we had people come in and prophesy over us. The guy who was prophesying over me told me that I had a ‘teachers and worshippers anointing.’ Not growing-up in the church and never learning Christianese, I had no idea what he was talking about, but for whatever reason that idea made me very excited. Before leaving for outreach, one of my leaders wrote me a note of encouragement saying that I should look more into the Levites and especially their role of worshipping through song. Three years later, just before I came to this school, my boyfriend also made a similar comparison between my callings and the callings of the Levites, without me even mentioning anything about my leader giving me that encouragement.
Throughout my DTS outreach different people in different countries would come up and talk to me or to my whole group about us being such powerful and called worshippers. We even had several people ask if we were a School of Worship. The time that stands out the most though was when we were in France at the Ponts de Vie base. We were having a wonderful time of worship at the base, where the Holy Spirit was clearly moving, and we had been talking a lot about gifts and receiving them during the teaching that week. The worship leader said that he wanted to invite two other girls and myself to come up front as an act of stepping into and accepting the gift of worship. At first I was thinking “Ahh! Oh no!” because I really did not want to be in front of everyone and I was also thinking “I don’t know what I’m supposed to do or sing!” but I went up anyways, and it definitely was one of those times when you know it is God guiding you along, not even really your own legs. As the worship leader prayed over us, I opened my mouth and a song just came out. It reminded me of speaking in tongues, where again, you know it is the Spirit, not you, and it reminded me of Romans 8:26 – “Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.” I may not always know what to pray, I may not always know what to sing to truly, deeply worship God, but this is not a problem. I have the Holy Spirit and He knows exactly what should be said or sung!
During DTS God spoke to me and told me that the next thing I would do would be a Bible Core Course in Hong Kong. I did not think anything much about worship for a long time because the time between DTS and BCC was 9 months. I still was very much aware of the fact that I loved worshipping God through song, and also how powerful worship was, but I didn’t consider anything more about using that gift.
Once I was doing the BCC I started praying about what would be next after that. I did at one point think about SOW, but the place where I wanted to do the school no longer offered it and I hadn’t heard anything specific about it from God, so I forgot about this idea. I finally got to the point where I realized that I was focusing too much on what would be next, so I surrendered that to God and stopped asking Him daily about what would happen after BCC. A few days later, I walked into base worship in Hong Kong and we had a visitor leading worship for us. When our base leader introduced her as an SOW leader, the presence of the Holy Spirit hit me like a ton of bricks. I have never felt the presence of the Holy Spirit so strongly and I had to sit down because it was so much! It was then that God spoke to me and confirmed doing a SOW. After this instance, we had people come to speak to the base in Hong Kong about using the arts in ministry, something that I also have such a heart for. They talked about how the difference between just performing and a performance for God was that the one for God should be an act of worship, no matter what the actual art was. They also talked about the fact that the first step in starting any arts ministry should always be worship. Another powerful point they brought up was that rather than labeling different arts or genres ‘secular’ or even ‘unholy’ it would be better to reclaim those things for Him by turning them into acts of worship; especially considering all good things come from Him, so none of the arts should be handed over to the enemy!
I continued to pray to God about worship and another thing He spoke to me was that a time of battle was coming. I kept getting this picture of me with a sword. Every time I asked God to tell me more about this, He would not tell me what the battle was, but He would say, “Worship is your weapon. You will not fight like you think it is good to fight, you will fight by raising up songs of worship, by worshipping Me.” This idea of something coming and this image of a sword has been confirmed also by multiple people I have spoken to in different countries, even as recently as last week. It makes me think of the story at Jericho, and also of my time in Nepal, when we would be near the Hindu temples and I would start to get horrible headaches, but as soon as I started singing worship songs under my breath, the headaches would disappear. I think at the very least worship certainly reminds us of the authority we have in Christ and guides us to stand in that authority when times are full of trials.
I originally figured that I was meant to do the SOW under the leader from Hong Kong, and spent a year waiting to hear when the SOW in China would start. However, during that waiting God revealed some things in me that really needed healing, and so I moved back to Tahoe in order to spend some time in counseling. That is when I started looking at other SOW schools as well and I found the one in Burtigny! I prayed and asked God if it was His will that I come here rather than go to China. He gave me peace about this idea, and my work even said that they would be willing to let me end my season at the very beginning of April as opposed to the end of the month. All the little pieces came together and here I am! On top of that, during that past year and a half, every time I have doubted that God wanted me to do this school, that day someone would come and confirm that calling, sometimes even total strangers! He is so gracious with my little faith!
All the glory to God for yet another amazing opportunity to learn, grow, and serve! May He bless each one of you on each of your own journeys too! To end this post I will share the verse that we memorized this week:
“Through Him let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge His name.” -Hebrews 3:15