Kathryn Scott shares her thoughts on how churches and worship leaders can model and lead authentic worship.
First and foremost, an expression of authentic worship looks like lives lived out in full surrender to Jesus. John 4:23 is one of the most helpful, ‘in a nutshell’ kind of verses on the subject, “It’s who you are and the way you live that count before God. Your worship must engage your spirit in the pursuit of truth. That’s the kind of people the Father is out looking for: those who are simply and honestly themselves before him in their worship. God is sheer being itself—Spirit. Those who worship him must do it out of their very being, their spirits, their true selves, in adoration.”
Bring all that you are in response to all that He is. That is authentic worship. When we are fully engaged in the pursuit of Him, every corner of our lives, seen or unseen, acknowledged or unrecognised, this is what makes sense of the songs we sing – and truthfully, when this is in place, it doesn’t matter what songs we use – they are simply the language of hearts that cannot be contained. There is nothing done merely out of rote or tradition – this is vibrant communication between the people of God and their Father. It’s real. It’s utterly rooted in the vitality of lives lived in passionate pursuit.
Much of our Christian life is lived on the battlefield.
The song ‘Hungry’ was born out of this very thing. We were living in Scotland at the time, and had just come through a very difficult time as a church. What had been a growing community right in the heart of Glasgow’s south side was now a very broken church, having lost more than half it’s members and struggling to find it’s feet after a pretty devastating season. We felt like we had nothing left. ‘Hungry’ was a heart’s cry. It was an honest, “this is where I am in the middle of all of this” (hungry, empty, weary…), and a desperate, “please fill me again, you’re all I need.”
There’s nothing ‘flashy’ about the earthy stuff of following Jesus. And truth to tell, much of our Christian lives is lived on the battlefield. John Wimber used to talk about thinking we had signed up for a cruise when we decided to follow Jesus, only to discover, when we arrived at the dock that we had enrolled in the army, and the boat was a war ship.
That’s why we have to keep it real. If we don’t live authentically, then what we sing will have nothing that people who are going through real stuff can connect with. It we don’t have transparency at our core, then there is nothing to the songs we sing… nothing but noise. God has no interest in that.
We live surrendered, we lead as servants.
As worship leaders therefore, if we want to keep the value of authenticity at our centre, then we need to keep Jesus as our focus. He’s the one we have zeroed on in and we will not let go. He’s the one we are laying everything down to follow; picking up the authority He has given us to unlock the hearts of those we are called to serve. As the lives we lead in public match up perfectly with the way we live behind closed doors, there is a depth of sincerity to what we sing, there’s a fragrance of heaven released that cannot be bought or earned. We live surrendered, we lead as servants. And our songs are an overflow of the kind of worship the Father is out looking for… the adoration of those who worship out of their very being.