Those of you who have sat in a worship set that I’ve led know that I approach things a little differently. The Lord has laid it on my heart to talk about an emerging prophetic worship movement, some of the challenges I have seen and experienced, some of the keys He has shown me, and the hope that I have for the church to shift into a glorious age. This will be the first installment in a series.
There is a coming movement of prophetic worship that will build on past movements, but will carry such a unique sound, such a unique approach, such a power and authority that the Lord is going to use it to shift the church into a new era, and by extension change the world. As the church goes, so goes the world. The movement of prophetic worship that will emerge will carry an unprecedented sound causing unprecedented impact. This worship will be untamed, organic, completely out of the box, rooted in the power of love, carry with it the flames of union and communion, and be steeped in truth, knowledge, and understanding. It will carry with it the very power of His heart poured out in the earth. It will shake us out of our habitual responses in worship and into real time encounters with God. It will sound like heaven. It will carry His heart. It will carry the fire, thunder, and wine of communion. And God is going to use it to usher in the Third Great Awakening.
There is a new breed of worship leader rising. They want more than a song-list, they will carry more than a few good hallelujah’s. They are fierce. They are called to be powerful prophetic voices. They carry wisdom and understanding in their words for the church. They move in the miraculous. They make room for the King to sing. Their aim is union. They cultivate an atmosphere for accessing the realms of heaven. They are more than a warm up act.
The question is, will it be allowed in the church?
I have spent many years of my life keeping faith that it will be.
There are already churches that are hungry, open, and willing to give it space. They are hungry and seeking more, and they are courageous enough to make room for something new. I am so encouraged by this. It has become a spring in the desert for me as a forerunner. It feeds the hope that has continued to burn in me for 17 years.
We are so attached to the structure of worship we feel comfortable with in the western church. I have been pioneering a new sound and approach to worship for 17 years. In those 17 years I have experienced continual heartbreak and continual joy. It’s amazing to me how joy and pain can be two walls of the same house. Continual joy because I have seen such glorious glimmers of what is coming and I have seen downright moves of God in worship over the years.
When worship is allowed to breathe, when it is uncontrolled by outside themes and directives, when the worship and the worship leader are trusted and honored, I have seen such amazing and miraculous things; spontaneous healing, prophetic words that shift regions and lives, salvation, supernatural manifestations, etc. When it is honored, when it is allowed to breathe.
I have experienced continual heartbreak because of the resistance in the church. The resistance in the church to honor this emerging move and to honor worship the way it should be honored in general.
Heartbreak because we continually foster a speaker centric culture in our churches and conferences when heaven fosters a worship centric culture. With our language, with the way we market and advertise, with the way we open and set up the meeting, we cultivate a mindset of expectation connected to speakers only. Meetings are typically opened up with something like this, “Get ready, tonight is going to be amazing, we have (Insert name of speaker here) in the house and God is going to do amazing things!” We’ve essentially already skipped over worship to some degree when we do this. By doing this, we have effectively cut off expectation of worship at the pass. I draw a loose comparison to Thanksgiving being constantly overshadowed by Christmas in the retail world. Does Thanksgiving come? Yes, it does. Do we celebrate it? Yes, we do. But We’re already shopping for Christmas, watching Christmas movies, planning for Christmas. The anticipation for Christmas is everywhere! We have relegated the worship time and the worship leader to a warm up act for the main event. We want our feel good warm up, but we don’t cultivate the expectation of the very things that worship is inherently designed to carry. This is so heartbreaking to me. We are shortchanging ourselves. We want it to be anointed, but we don’t really want it to be different than what we are used to. We want it to sound good, but we don’t really want any exploration or experimentation too much on a Sunday morning…maybe we’ll allow more for a conference, but still…not too much. This is a tragedy. But I believe we are on the brink of true change. I believe we are moving from a platform centric church to a worship and glory centric church. I long to see giftings and callings flowing together in honor to cultivate the Kingdom of heaven on earth.
It’s interesting, I travel both as a worship leader and a speaker (I love and value both), and I get treated differently in each capacity. As a speaker I am treated more as the main event. I am typically, not always, attended to much more closely. Now, please understand that I am talking about a pattern of discrepancy I’ve experienced, but in saying that, I have been in so many places that have honored worship, and me as a worship leader beautifully. Truly wonderful things are happening, and honor is increasing for worship, but it still sadly lags behind. And this breaks my heart for a few reasons. One: because when I look at heaven, I see worship as the central and constant activity. Two: because life flows from honor. And I long to see the fullness of the life of God released in worship as it is intended to be. As a whole in the Western church, we’re missing it. We’ve buried it. We’ve relegated it to the corners of our comfort zone. We’ve tamed it. We’ve boxed it up.
But it’s time for the wild sound of the worship of heaven to invade the earth! And it doesn’t sound like anything we’ve ever heard before. We’ve heard glimmers. But, when this is let loose, the entire landscape of the church will change. The entire landscape of the world will change. This is a primary key in “On earth as it is in heaven”. But are we willing to sacrifice comfort? Are we willing to sacrifice our song sets? Are we willing to face those who will be uncomfortable, oppose this prophetic expression, and decide to take their tithe somewhere with two fast songs and one slow one packaged neatly in 20 minutes?
There are so many aspects of this that need to become a discussion for the church. One being, the people are hungry for more. Virtually everywhere I go I have far more than a few people approach me and tell me that they’ve been waiting for this kind of freedom in worship. Some say they’ve been waiting, that they still aren’t sure completely what to do with it, but that they are so hungry and want to delve deeper.
Another aspect that needs to be discussed is that the church has done the worship leader a great disservice by relegating them to space and position we have. We have not expected them to develop their gifting in prophetic worship, so, for the most part, they haven’t. They have become what has been expected of them. They have stayed at the level they have been allowed to operate. They have delivered what is expected and permitted of them; what fits in the plan. They have become mostly a warm up act…because we wouldn’t let them be anything else. So we now have the beginnings of great struggle as hunger begins to stir. Struggle because the worship leaders are hearing the call to go deeper and get out of the box. Struggle because leaders don’t want the mess of a new emerging movement on the platform. Struggle because a new breed of worship leaders are beginning to understand they are called to much more than a song-set warm up for the speaker. We are quickly approaching a crossroad where this is concerned. The forerunners have been bumping up against this for years, but the number of those who are beginning to hunger, grow, and reach are rapidly rising. What are we going to do about this? They need to be released and freed and called up to the level of maturity necessary to walk in their destiny and release what they are called to release in the earth.
In order to get somewhere we’ve never been, we’ve got to go somewhere we’ve never gone. In order to build something that’s never been built, we have do things that have never been done. In order to pioneer something new, we must understand that it’s a process and won’t come blazing out all shiny and ready to roll. It needs to be allowed to grow. It needs to be allowed to breathe. And we need to get a little more ok with being uncomfortable in order to move forward. David didn’t show up on the battlefield with the latest technology of bronze armor, he didn’t even show up with a conventional weapon. He showed up with five stones. Organic. Raw. Tested in the wilderness. Effective. There will be awkward moments. Everyone won’t be into it at first. People will be uncomfortable. And we need to get over it; pull on grace to move forward into the depths of Kingdom change and awakening. As I recall, Jesus had some new methods that made people real uncomfortable. As I recall, He didn’t let it stop Him.
Despite years of struggle, heartbreak, and swimming upstream, I am encouraged and filled with hope; especially in the last few years, because I am beginning to see the physical manifestation of a movement I have seen in the Spirit for so many years. I am seeing a hunger rise up in the church, in worship leaders, and in leadership in general. I’m seeing courage rising to break the mold, the beginnings of true honor for worship is starting to spring forth in the heart of the church, and glimpses of a new era are breaking through.
But revolution costs something. It might cost us our longstanding structure and comfort. Are we willing? I have so much hope and faith in the church that we will move with Him, casting aside every hinderance of habit, old wineskin, and preference in order to enter into unprecedented glory in worship. I have faith we can work together, honor each other, and see the fullness of a Third Great Awakening.
Next in this series: A movement of prophetic worship that will shift the church into a new era, Part 2: How do we say “Yes”?