Licking Frozen Flagpoles, Sunburn, & The Dichotomy of Worship

2 Apr 2013

For the last three years I have had the immense privilege of leading our creative team in Brisbane. Yes, that Brisbane. The one where the sun shines 365 days a year, the water is always a balmy 27 degrees and Wet ‘n Wild water park is just 30 minutes from my house. What’s funny about this is that I was born and raised in Alaska. Yes, that Alaska. While 7 year olds here in Brisbane were learning the importance of sun safety and slip, slop, slapping; I was learning (the hard way) why not to lick the school flagpole in the middle of winter. Sometimes I feel like my life is one big contrast.

Perhaps that is why I love the picture of worship in Leviticus 9:23-24.

“When the people saw it (the Glory of God), they shouted for joy and fell facedown.”

The people of Israel saw the glory of God and their appropriate response was to shout with joy AND fall facedown to the ground. It seems like the ultimate dichotomy, exuberance and contriteness, celebration and reverence. What an amazing visualization of this response to who God is, the worshipper bowing face to the ground but alight with a radiant smile!

This paradox is our appropriate response to God. It’s not one or the other. It’s not even a balance between the two. But it is both sides in their fullness, together becoming our answer to the question of how we will respond to a glimpse of who He is.

The amazing thing is that as we proceed along the journey of building a team of musicians, singers, artists, camera operators, audio technicians, photographers, designers, dancers, etc. (everything we call our Creative Team), we see this dichotomy through it all.

CREATE A PLACE FOR EVERYONE/ONLY BRING THE BEST

We hold whole-heartedly to the notion that there is a place for everyone in our team. Yet we also hold whole-heartedly to the belief that God and, our church, deserve our absolute best all of the time. This means that we have standards that not everyone is willing to meet.

We are purposeful in our intention to include everyone, but we don’t shy away from the fact that being included as a valuable part of our team doesn’t mean that everyone is instantly given every ministry platform.

PREPARE EVERY DETAIL/BE PREPARED TO THROW IT ALL OUT

We plan everything. Before every service, we know how many minutes we’ve been given for praise and worship. We know exactly how long the church news video will run. Our guitarists know each guitar part for each song on the song list, our front of house operator hasn’t cut any corners in preparation, our photographers know what is happening in the service so they can be ready to tell the story afterwards, our stage managers know if the speaker wants a stool or will stand.

Every detail is prepared. But as counterintuitive as it may sound, it’s that exact preparation that allows us to throw parts or even the whole thing out the window when led to do so without compromising the quality of what we’re bringing to the table. Always ready for anything! 

EVERYTHING MATTERS/ONLY ONE THING MATTERS

Make no mistake, it matters if someone left a water bottle on the stage after rehearsal and it’s sitting there during the service screaming “mediocre” to anyone that spots it! It matters if a singer forgets the words, it matters if a camera isn’t white balanced properly, it matters if an MC’s mic isn’t on and we miss the first couple words that they say as they walk on stage. It matters that our team live to the same standards on Saturday night as they do Sunday morning!

All those things matter. You don’t have to dig very far through Jesus’ interaction with people in the gospels to see that those things mattered to Jesus as well (it mattered that he turned water into good wine, it mattered that the temple had become a market, it mattered that the people in Jerusalem weren’t trustworthy – John 2) but at the end of the day we don’t care how tidy the stage looks if people aren’t encountering the reality of Jesus. Without taking anything away from the fact that everything else really does matter, that’s the only thing that matters.

And the list goes on… I’m sure you could think of many more. Throughout our worship team’s journey we see these dichotomies, things that seem to be opposing each other, but in reality, when paired together, are the true, mature, appropriate response of worship to who God is. It’s only when we champion both sides that our response is complete.

Brad Kohring
(Hillsong Brisbane)