[Course 32 Index] [Prayer-School Index] [Mini-Series Index ] [Prev Lesson] [Next Lesson]

-- © GodSpeak International 2005 --
-- Do not republish without written permission from <copyright@godspeak.org> --

Author: Rodney Hogue <rodhogue@aol.com> http://www.icgrace.org
Editors: Teresa Seputis, Earlene Bown
Transcribers: Sharon Farris, Rita Joyce, Erma Kummerer, Fred Pekkonen

Prayer-School Course #32

Grace and Christian Values

By Rodney Hogue

Lesson 16
Moving A Church Into Extravagant Worship

I would like to talk about how we have evolved in our worship in my own church. A lot of our evolution came fourteen years ago when they called this wild renegade pastor (e.g., me). Before I came, worship used to be just a couple of hymns before the announcements and sermon. Now our worship is the main event of our service, where we put our focus on God and invite His presence. Our worship usually lasts for an hour, and as we linger before God and draw close to Him, He frequently shows up in very tangible ways to meet with His children.

How did we get from there to here in our chruch? We did it thorugh a process over time, as we began to intentionally focus on worshipping God. (This same process can be done in any church. The logistics may look a bit different in any given church, but the basic process is the same.) We have to look at how God made and designed us. He designed us to worship Him, and we find a true fulfillment when we are doing that on a regular basis.

When my current church called me about coming here, they didn't ask me about my worship and praise background. It was not important to them; it wasn't their focus. They didn't listen to any of my worship services. Nobody asked me about my opinions of worship or praise. Nobody even attempted to visit me at Washington State where I was pastoring when they called me. If someone had gone there, they would have discovered my praise and worship style. God put that in me from the very beginning -- I grew up singing in the choir. In the part of the country I grew up in, the best singers were not in the secular world, but in the church.

If you look at some of the secular singers today who are very popular -- both old and young -- you will find that they had their beginning in the church. They developed their skills in the church.

I went through a lot of extensive vocal training in high school. I was in choir and I played football. It wasn't "cool" for football guys to be in the choir, but singing was a part of my passion. I actually went to the different contest and competition for vocals, choir, and solos, quartets, and things of that nature, and won awards in the regional and state competitions. I received the highest awards for vocal solo competition. I have the medals in a box somewhere in my attic -- maybe I should break them out and stick them in my office one day. No, I don't think so, because the goal of worship is to focus on God, not on man's accomplishments.

Singing has been a part of who I am, it's in my design. I have led worship for thirty years. I usually lead worship in the church services. I have led worship in every church I have been a part of. In my previous church, I led worship in the early service every Sunday, because it is a part of who I am. I have been music director and choir director. At one point I thought that God was bringing me into the music realm, but I found out it was into the preaching realm.

Worship has been a part of me. It is ingrained in me. Everywhere I have gone I have always had a song going around in my head. So, fourteen years ago when I came to my current church, we had a very traditional form of worship. That was what this church knew; it was the box that this church was accustomed to. So I went out and bought in a new box -- a black box. I spent about $4,000 and brought it to church and gave it to them. I bought it with my personal money to rein the mentality of "what do we need this for?" I bought a keyboard and a speaker. And on Wednesday nights I started to lead worship on that keyboard.

The church members looked at me and said, "What is that? I said, "We are going to worship with it." "And what are we going to do with it?" I led worship with this keyboard. It was one of those ones where you could program whole songs in and it would play them even if you did not know how to play a keyboard. So I pushed the button and it started, and I pushed the button and it stopped. At first we were only doing it on Wednesday nights, but after a while we decided that we would do it on Sunday morning.

We started using that little programmed keyboard in our Sunday morning service -- what a concept to use the box on Sunday morning! In 1991, we started a diverse monthly hour of worship and we called it "Prepare The House." We met on Saturday nights from 5 to 6 pm for one hour to spend time in worship. What were we doing? We were getting people use to coming into the Holy of Holies, which is to encounter God.

Remember that the goal of worship is to encounter God. If you have been in the church for a long period of time, sometimes you have to go through a process of unlearning in order to encounter God. You have to unlearn bad worship habits before you can learn good ones. You have to go through a process of unlearning so that you can learn. That is what we did in our church. We worshipped once a month and pretty soon that one hour wasn't long enough. So we moved it to Friday nights, changed the name of it to "Station Break," and increased it to two to three hours. And you know what? We still have monthly Station Breaks in our church to this day.

A couple of years ago, the youth started a couple of nights of worship. Today, they continue to have a night of worship each month. So, our congregation has two nights of worship each month. We don't do anything else in that service, we just worship God and draw close to Him.

Let me talk about the significance of worship and monthly worship services. We have the Sunday Morning Worship Service, a Tuesday night recovery program, Alpha, Men's Breakfast, Ladies Fellowship; we have all of these different things going on. If I were to categorize or prioritize every event we hold in a month, worship would be at the very top of the list. It is the most important thing that we do as church in a given month. Why? It is the only thing that we do that is not self-serving -- it is a sacrifice to Him. There is no preaching, no teaching, no passing of an offering. We have several different things going on in the church, but worship is my highest priority. Worship is the only thing we do that is not self-serving. We don't try to see how many people we can get into the house because that is not what it is all about.

Worship is the most important thing I'm involved in during the month. And there has to be something of tremendous importance for me to miss worship. Our monthly worship services are very important to me. Let me give you an illustration of just how important worship is to me. This summer my wife and I celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary and we took a few days off to spend an extended time together without the boys. We love our boys, but you understand, there are times when a couple needs special time for themselves. One of the couples in the church offered us their time-share in Cape Cod. We have three boys that we love dearly, but we wanted to spend some time alone together.

We could have left on Friday, but our monthly worship service is on Friday Night. So we put off our vacation off a day, so that we wouldn't miss Friday night. Worship is so important to me that if I had a choice between missing the Sunday morning service or Friday night worship, I would miss Sunday morning. Let me tell you why.

A few years ago, I was discouraged by the low attendance at our monthly worship services, and I began asking God if I should cancel them. God spoke and told me that the Revival will flow from the worshippers. He said, "They are the ones I can trust. They are the ones whose agenda is Me. I can trust them with My power and anointing. They are coming close to Me." God also told me when I look for leaders, look for the worshippers. They are the Moses' and Joshuas. When God chose people, He chose worshippers. Moses was a man who sought after God, and He also chose Joshua as Moses' successor. He chose Moses who sought after the presence of God, and Joshua because Joshua longed for the presence of the Lord, to move into the presence of God.

So when I ask God, who are the leaders of the Revival? Who are the people who have a passion for God? His answer is that they are the ones who have been working all day, and still come out on Friday nights to worship. They say, "I have been working all week, but I want to soak in the presence of God. This is my passion, and you can tell it, it kind of rises up in me. What can I say?"

Out of our time of worship on Friday nights, it just spills over into Sunday morning. It is normal for us, because we come to embrace God. I have friends and family who will come and visit the church and say that our worship is a little bit different for them. But this type of purposeful and extravagant and extended worship has become normal for us. We come to church to engage God. We worship for about an hour on Sunday morning before I preach. It is easier to preach when the glory of God is in the house. It is the residue of His presence and it is wonderful.

-- © GodSpeak International 2005 --
-- Do not republish without written permission from copyright@godspeak.org --

[Course 32 Index] [Prayer-School Index] [Mini-Series Index ] [Prev Lesson] [Next Lesson]