Recently I came across a quote from a book by Gary Erickson called Pentecostal Worship. On page 102 he writes: “Hand clapping and shouts can be just a response to cheer leading, and the people can amuse themselves with a game of group exercise.” Wow! How true this is today! When noise is the objective, and the congregation is bombarded with demands to “get with it,” one cannot help but long for the good old days!
I remember when the worship leaders would step away from the pulpit after a song and allow Jesus to move in our midst. We would throw our heads back and reach our hands to heaven as spontaneous worship filled the room for five to ten minutes after each song. Only when there was a collective awareness of a slight lifting of the Spirit of God would the worship leader step back to the microphone to make an announcement or call out the page number for our next song. Every service was different. God was the leader, the celebrity, and the one we came to see; it was His power and direction to which we were submitted.
Then, it all changed. Suddenly there were “praise singers” on the platform; worship leaders held the microphone close to their own words building a crescendo of noise that was really only an empty echo. The volume increased to a deafening pitch, and “skilled musicians” replaced the simple anointed players of not so long ago. Our hymnals no longer clutter the room, and the words to the songs speak of man instead of deity; earth instead of heaven; our worship instead of His blood. Our ‘agenda’ has replaced His move.
It seems the form of our services is more important than the liberty of God’s Spirit. No longer do we feel the rush of His moving and the tarrying in that place of Glory. We used to see the cloud of His presence, and weep and or worship for hours, so the ministers just gave the service to the Power and waited until next time to preach. Now the desire for entertainment and the urgency of the next item on the agenda has moved God right out the back door; and we like frogs in a pot of hot water just join in the group exercise and don’t even realize that God isn’t there.
Just what do we think the backsliders feel when they return for the Glory they once experienced only to find the same atmosphere of the world they desire to leave? People, call for the old paths, wherein is the good way, and walk ye in it. We need a revival of true Pentecostal Worship, not just more glitzy professionalism that magnifies us instead of Him.