Casting out demons takes a fair amount of time and effort. The whole process is one-part inner healing and one-part a battle of wills as you try to figure out why the thing is there, how to break its connection to the person, and then force it to leave. You never quite know what’s going to happen in such a process, but you start to learn a few tricks over time.
When it comes to such deliverances, one of the tricks you grow accustomed to using is worship music. Sometimes you hit a wall in getting them to go and so you play some music on your phone or grab a guitar or just start singing. At times, this can cause anything from irritation to a full-on meltdown where the demon seems to be in great pain. It’s a powerful thing to witness.
But this is not the kind of power many churches perceive worship music to carry in their services. For some, music is the prelude to the message, which is the real reason they’ve come. For others, it is nothing more than a time to remind themselves of the story of God in the form of music. And for others still, it is a form of entertainment, meant to performed as perfectly as possible. And then there’s the occasional person that doesn’t care much for music in general and is just waiting for all of it to wrap up so we can move along.
We try to reach all of these different personalities by designing our worship service with a very predictable pattern: two upbeat, happy-go-lucky songs meant to get our blood pumping before we sing two to three power ballads that we consider actual worship songs, all done within a 15 to 20 minute timeframe. And if we can, let’s make sure it’s all tracked or at least on a metronome so we can end every song right on time. After all, we need to make sure we get out of service within an hour. We don’t want to be overly committed to praise or anything—we’ve got other things to fill our Sabbath with, like sports, video games, binge-watching, staring at our phones, and shopping.
Despite how snarky I sound right now, I’m not actually against order and time frames and sounding good and all that. I’ve been in churches that have embraced the “anything goes” way of doing worship and I’ll be the first to admit that it can get it way out of control.
But despite the occasional craziness that comes in some of these “anything goes” churches, do you know what I’ve seen more of during their worship time? Miracles. Prophetic words. The gifts of the Spirit at work. Spiritual hunger. All kinds of Holy Spirit infused supernatural moments. And this is a beautiful and powerful thing to experience.
As one of my college professors once expressed: “There’s nothing better than the experience of the Holy Spirit”—and that’s coming from a guy with a bunch of degrees under his belt in theology and the like. Given his background you’d think that all he’d really want in a worship service is a highly intelligent message. But instead, his greatest desire is to experience God.
I have to agree with him. There’s just nothing like a church service where the Holy Spirit shows up and pours out. And I find it a shame that we often have to choose between two extremes: an ordered church service where the movement of the Spirit feels quenched or an unordered church service where both the Spirit and chaos have free rein. Why can’t we find a line between the two?
As both a worship leader and a lead pastor, that became my goal in designing worship services. As a worship leader, I wanted to play that powerful music that made demons tremble and created the space for the Holy Spirit to work in people’s hearts. But as a pastor with a deep bent for Biblical studies, I also wanted the space to dive into theology as we preached our way through entire books of the Bible. The Pentecostal blood in me wanted music to carve out a space where anything could happen, but the Methodist blood in me wanted to make sure there was space for other important things in our gatherings as well.
Over the last decade, our services at 1208 Greenwood have gone through different phases, time restraints, and congregations. But despite the changes, I refuse to just play music at church. There is a deeper element to worship music that is often missed entirely when we treat it as nothing more than music. I am present to create a throne for God with my words. I have come to make demons tremble and release a sound wave across the spiritual realm of my community. I want to experience the Holy Spirit and not quench him. I desire the church to have space to be the church and to use their spiritual gifts as we sing. I want to romance God.
This article is an excerpt from my book, Spirit Infused Worship. In this short book, I draw from deep Bible study and over 15 years of worship leading experience to address some of the worship leading topics that we often ignore. In these pages you’ll find practical tips for leading worship alongside the Holy Spirit, discover how the Bible sees our music and church services engaging with the spiritual realm, and learn how to create the space for your congregants to experience the intimacy of God.