I’ll never forget my first worship experience as a follower of Jesus. You’re probably expecting a story about me in children’s ministry or VBS or something along those lines, but my first encounter with worship actually came a lot later than that. I didn’t start following Jesus until the summer before my freshman year of college, and I was introduced to worship not too long after.
Picture this with me: It’s 2017and I had just made the decision to follow Jesus. I am about to start my freshman year of college at Texas A&M University and I’m attending a Christian retreat for incoming freshmen called Impact. I’m sitting in a room full of people waiting for the first session to start. Suddenly, the lights dimmed and a band walks on the stage. Everybody in the room stands up at the same time, so I follow. The band starts to play music. There are lyrics on the screens at the front, but when I look around, everybody is singing with their eyes closed. Everybody already knows the words. I don’t know any of the words. People start raising their hands in the air, dancing, jumping, getting on their knees… and I just stand there wondering what in the world I have gotten myself into.
Now, as someone who grew up attending Catholic mass, this was a weird experience for me. Being completely transparent- I was terrified. I had no idea what was going on, and all I could do was stand there, completely frozen. For the remainder of the retreat, I dreaded worship. It was uncomfortable, awkward, and I just didn’t like it.
Flash forward to today, worship is one of my favorite things in the world. If there’s an opportunity to worship somewhere, you’ll most likely find me there. Not only will you find me there, but it won’t take long to spot me in the crowd. I’m the girl who is jumping, spinning, dancing, moving her arms anywhere and everywhere, and singing my heart out. Even if the rest of the room is still, I’m going to move and I’m going to sing.
I’ve come a long way from the girl who was frozen and stiff during worship, but that didn’t happen overnight. It took me YEARS to get to where I am now; able to worship in complete freedom despite where I am or who is with me. What helped me get to this point is learning what worship is and what it is not. I am still learning more every day, but there are some fundamental things that I want to share to help you to lay a beautiful and strong foundation for completely undignified worship.
Worship is NOT for entertainment.
Worship IS a supernatural experience.
Worship may not always be spectacular, but it is always supernatural. If you are entering into a time of worship expecting to be wowed by the production, the song choice, or the ability of the worship leaders to stay on key, then you are diminishing a supernatural experience down to one that must be entertaining in order to fully engage. Worship doesn’t have to look or sound a certain way for it to create an atmosphere where the Spirit of God can move among people and do a work in their hearts. If you don’t understand that, then you won’t be able to worship in freedom. Don’t let the details get in the way of experiencing the presence of God.
Worship is NOT about fitting in with the people around you.
Worship IS about being completely authentic before your Creator.
One of the biggest obstacles people face in worship is the fear of what the people around them are thinking. Whether it’s not fully expressing yourself out of fear or trying to do what everyone else is doing to fit in, it’s easy to be concerned with the people around you. Don’t let your worship be dependent on who is in the room. That’s not real worship, that’s performance. Worship is not meant to please other people. It’s not about them. It’s about Jesus. It’s about meeting with your Creator and getting lost in His presence. It’s about giving your offering up to God, and He doesn’t want what you think will please other people. He just wants you. He wants your heart. So, if you feel led to jump and dance, DO IT. If you feel led to just sit in His presence, DO IT. If you feel led to get on your knees, DO IT. Your worship will be freer and more authentic the moment you take your eyes off the people around you, and you fix them on Jesus.
Worship is NOT about you.
Worship IS all about Jesus.
I know it sounds cliché, but this truth sums up everything you’ll ever learn about worship. It’s not about you at all, and if it were, then it wouldn’t be worship. Worshiping gives us an opportunity to respond to who God is and what He’s done. It’s an opportunity to honor and exalt Him. It’s a time to put all our attention, focus, and praise on bringing glory to His name. It’s about putting God exactly where He belongs in your life — lifted higher than anything else. It shouldn’t be dependent on how you feel, where you are, what you look like, or anything that is centered on yourself. When you stop looking at yourself, and start looking at Jesus, you open the door to experiencing true and undignified worship.
If you can remember that worship is a supernatural experience, it is about being completely authentic before your creator, and that it is all about Jesus; then you’re on the right tract to experiencing undignified worship. If you’re not there yet, I want to give you a few practical steps for what you can do next! First, you can pray that God would help shift your perspective on all the points I talked about. There is power in prayer, so don’t be afraid to ask God for help in this process. Next, you can open the Bible and see what it has to say about worship. Learning about God’s heart for worship is one of the best things you can do. I’ll include a list of Scriptures that helped me, but I also encourage you to do your own research. Lastly, you can ask God what He wants your worship to look like. Everyone’s worship looks different, but have you ever asked God how he wants YOU to worship? If you want to experience deeper intimacy with God and a newfound sense of freedom when you praise Him, then you should seek to experience worship that is truly undignified. It’s worth it.
Scriptures that have helped me:
1 Chronicles 15:29
1 Chronicles 29:11
By: Lily Belcher