Saturday, 18 March 2017

Comparisons of Praise & Worship

Praise and Worship in Charismatic Renewal Days (     - late 1980s)

People were eager to arrive early. The congregation began singing spontaneously, song after song, before the service began.

When the song-leader rose to the platform to officially begin the meeting, the song-service was buoyed along by the bursting enthusiasm in the congregation itself.

People danced. Clapped hands. You could hear the congregation singing above the sound of the band.

At some point there would always be congregational singing in the spirit. The congregation responded to the Spirit as one man.The sound ebbed and flowed, rising to a crescendo and back to sweet worshipful strains, in one or more cycles.

The singing in the spirit would give birth to someone singing a spontaneous new song with their understanding, and the band would follow along. Then the whole congregation would pick up the song.

Prophecies would come. Or tongues, and interpretation. That was the peak. Every week brought a unique experience.

Sometimes a Pastor would invite people forward for the laying on of hands. But usually, the gifts of the Spirit that flowed from the congregation after a time of singing in the Spirit, was the high point of the praise and worship.

The lyrics and melodies were appropriate, likeable and memorable. People sang with eyes closed, hands upraised. The songs could easily be sung by heart, at home, on the beach, in the car, away from the band and overhead projectors.

Occasionally a good old hymn would also be sung.

We sometimes had someone minister to the congregation with a special number.

Worship was an experience, orchestrated by the Holy Spirit. We believed that God was present and enthroned on the praises of His people.

Our only beef was that the announcements often got in the way of things the Spirit was beginning to do in a service. I had a sense that there was more, that we were still falling short. We had a vision of a coming day when the manifestations of the Spirit would go to another level in our gatherings.

In many charismatic gatherings, those with Latter Rain Movement undertones, the worship was modelled on the concept that worship in David's tabernacle was likely sometimes spontaneous.

Musicians were often off to the side, as much as possible part of the congregation rather than spread out in front of the church across the whole stage.

Sunday meetings typically lasted around 90 minutes.

You never wanted to miss a service, in case that was the Sunday the long awaited move of the Spirit I was still waiting for broke out.

There was great Bible-teaching. And evangelism. And missions.

The Contemporary Church Movement (late 1980s - ) 

But not all Pentecostals embraced the Charismatic Movement, or the Latter Rain Movement before it. Some second-generation Pentecostals of one particular denomination instead started a youth movement, in which music was modelled more on the secular rock concert than on Latter Rain concepts about David's tabernacle.

It was a deliberate strategy of reaching unchurched youth. Many got saved. It was a good outlet, while it was fuelled by participants who'd also been experiencing the charismatic movement.

In time the leaders of the youth movement became the Senior Pastors of the churches, and then members of the executive. Pretty soon the Sunday services of their churches all across the nation came to be run like their youth rallies. And this style of service eventually came to be adopted by charismatic churches on Sundays too.

Typically the music is loud. The congregation can't be heard singing. There's little to no spontaneity. Singing in the spirit doesn't usually happen. There isn't much expression of the Spirit. The lyrics and melodies aren't all that easily memorisable.

The River Movement (mid 1990s -)

Drama, lighting, programs became the go-to strategy of many churches. A new move of the Spirit was sorely needed.

When it came, it brought joy. The work of the Spirit became visible, congregation-wide, in ways we'd only dreamed about. It was so easy. Even the musicians and song-leader would be overcome by the Spirit, unable to continue performing. People got spontaneously filled with the Spirit, spoke in tongues, laughed in the spirit, cried, repented, confessed sins, got delivered of demons, interpreted tongues, prophesied, laid hands on one another, many had to be carried out of the meeting barely able to walk, and stayed under the work of the Spirit for days.

This broke out repeatedly almost every time the congregation gathered, even at music practices.

It was led by the Spirit, not by the stage, music couldn't get in the way because even musicians would come under the Spirit and end up on the floor.

Meetings typically lasted three-and-a-half hours, followed by around 30 minutes of spontaneous singing and dancing.

This was what we'd dreamed of.

The manifestation of the Spirit spread to university campuses, lecture rooms, schools - whole communities were visited with the presence of God. Whole congregations suddenly fell to the floor in one go. Children were on the floor for hours, seeing visions of angels, heaven and Jesus.


Contemporary, Charismatic, Latter Rain, and Pentecostal churches seem to have diverged into two types:

Contemporary - which is a carry-on of the style of the youth movement of the 90s; or

There's another style which in theory wishes for the move of the Spirit, and songs are often about the Holy Spirit,  -but it seldom happens that the manifestation of the Spirit is given precedence during the music time itself.

It differs from the River Movement at its height, in that in the River Movement the Holy Spirit completely took over the musicians and the music-time, and the focus turned to the work of the Spirit in and through the congregation - and then praise and worship would break out spontaneously again at the end of the meeting, after the Holy Spirit had truly had His way.

Nowadays it's reverted to being music-dominated. And the music is loud. The congregation can't really be heard, similar to the Contemporary style churches. And although the songs may be about the Holy Spirit, the lyrics and melodies, like those used in the Contemporary-style churches, aren't all that memorisable.

The Holy Spirit sometimes begins to manifest during a song - but usually the song-program continues, and usually dominates. So the manifestation of the Spirit doesn't usually spread to the whole congregation or become the focus of the meeting.

Holy Spirit time, if it happens, is usually relegated to an altar-call at the end, or maybe a prayer-tunnel if they're really getting radical. But seldom is the Holy Spirit given the chance to move upon a whole congregation, and for the congregation to respond as a whole to His move. It's still music-dominated. And stage-dominated.

No comments:

Post a Comment