Commitment-Phobe: Learning to worship
Learning the rules of worship
After becoming a Christian, I joined a church where I had been doing an Alpha course. On that course we sang a hymn each week, so those of us who were not culturally Christian could become familiar with hymns. Those we sang were mostly the modern kind, written by Matt Redman or Chris Tomlin, with simple pop tunes, easy to pick up and only offensive to fans of Tom Waits. Once I started to go to my church regularly, I enjoyed singing the hymns I knew, closing my eyes and really letting go. I was vaguely aware, when I opened my eyes, that others were less exuberant in their worship – but to each their own. So with great enthusiasm, I decided to join the worship team.
Our main worship leader and coordinator was a young, recently married, theological student, who was relaxed, gentle and filled with the Spirit. For my audition he sent me the words to two hymns which we would be singing that term, one familiar, and one new to me. He sent me links to them on YouTube, so that I might work on some harmonies for them. This exposed me to the world of Christian gigs. I didn’t really know what to make of Chris Tomlin holding his hands up in praise to the sound of thousands of Christians shouting in a vast arena. The actual audition was quite relaxed, four of us sat in a room, the worship leader with his acoustic guitar, a dad and his son with an electric guitar and me singing along. This was going to be easy.
It wasn’t exactly hard but it was a bit messy. Before my first time singing, I got an email late on Friday night with a list of hymns we would be singing that Sunday. Thank God for all the worship leaders out there posting harmony lines and videos for home hymn practice on YouTube. I spent all of Friday and Saturday night going over the seven-hymn set list; making some awful harmony choices and driving my husband mad. I arrived an hour and a half before the service to start rehearsals. The time whizzed by – we needed to get the microphones working, and then the projection screen wasn’t showing the lyrics for the hymns in the right order and I didn’t know them by heart. Suddenly there were 15 minutes until the first hymn, and I did not feel ready. The vicar gave me a pep talk, saying that the important thing was to wholeheartedly worship God. And so I let go. Perfectionism? Out of the window. Good harmonies? Just sing the tune. I closed my eyes and went into my own little worship world. I messed up of course; I started one song too soon, and I tried to continue a chorus for longer than I should, but hey, I was feeling it!…
This is an extract from the March 2016 edition of Reform.