What Happened To Diversity In Worship?


Body Ministry Is For Every Believer

Reflecting over the renewal, revival days of the Charismatic Movement of the 1970’s, I could not help wonder what has happened to tongues and interpretation in corporate worship settings or singing in the spirit today?  The church that I am attending was in the forefront during those days, and someone speaking in an unknown tongue with another person interpreting in English was a common practice.  It was an awesome occurrence since the one giving the tongue could not interpret it, relying on another member of the body to validate the word. It prevented the corporate worship session from being a one man show and called for a reverence and respect for the gifts, an accountability through discernment, and faith in the leading of the Holy Spirit among all God’s people.  People who came later to our church knowing our theological stance on the matter, began questioning why these experiences were no longer evident in our meetings. Good question! I cannot recall the last time tongues and interpretation has been evident in our worship experience. Why has it disappeared is a valid question.

I also recall the first time that I heard singing in the spirit.  It was the most corporate angelic sound that I have ever heard as everyone present was praising the Lord verbally any way they wished to express themselves, usually melodically.  With so much diversity, the sound was enriched, full, and harmonious: something very difficult to explain.  It was the ultimate body worship experience that I have ever been engulfed by, for everyone participated individually yet corporately in pure freedom of expression to their Savior and King, Jesus.  I truly believe it is a glimpse of worship of heaven here on earth.

Today, we, the church, have fallen back into the institutionalized, predictable, order-of-worship format when we gather. Usually worship is directed by a worship leader and senior pastor with little if any participation by the believers present except to “follow the lead” of the leadership on the platform.  There is no tongues or interpretation, nor prophetic utterances, nor singing in the spirit which all lead to an unpredictable service led by the Holy Spirit.  Everything is directed and executed as preplanned.

Why has the spontaneity of spiritual gifts in a corporate setting been silenced by the institutional church? Why has the church accepted the stance of toleration of the gifts but not the encouragement of using them? Why the passive stance of doing nothing? What use is a gift if it is not opened nor used?

Much of this free expression of worship had to be found outside of institutional settings during the Charismatic days of the 1970’s & 1980’s. I had to go to conferences, Jesus Rallies, Full Gospel Business Men’s meetings, etc. to worship in this setting of freedom. Does it have to be that way 40 years later?  Why hasn’t the institutional church embraced it?  Simple answer:  It is a question of control.  Who is in control of the service at your church: the leadership on the platform or the Holy Spirit moving amongst God’s people? Who do you, as a believer in Jesus Christ, follow during a corporate worship session: the leadership on the platform or the Holy Spirit moving in his temple, your body?  If the Holy Spirit moves you during a worship service, what outlet during the service do you have to express what He is doing in you or must you remain silent, submissive to the order of worship and under the scrutiny of the leadership that has to “approve” everything before it can be expressed?

If the principle of the Priesthood of Believers is to be activated in the Church, then the freedom of corporate worship by God’s people has to again be interjected into the Church’s worship experiences. Can the church take the risk of trusting the Holy Spirit to move among His people as He chooses, when He chooses, and any way He chooses, or will we keep our protective shield of institutionalized order of worship to prevent such occurrences?

Bottom Line: Who do we as a Church trust? Can we trust the Holy Spirit?  If we trust Him, then why not release Him and His lead. His purpose is to draw all men to Jesus individually and corporately!  We need body ministry to return to worship in our Churches activating the faith, giftings, point of views, passions, and voices of all believers in Jesus Christ!