Life in the military requires frequent moves, and frequent moves require church-shopping. If you have attended a church or two, you've had opinions about worship services. Now, I can worship with traditional hymns, contemporary choruses, children's songs, or rap music; I love them all. The challenge for most worship teams is to find the balance between an excellent performance and an excellent worship experience. We've all seen praise teams that could have put on a rock concert, but they sang songs we didn't know, they were too loud, and we left wondering where the good ole' gospel sing-alongs were being held. And then we've all been to churches where we knew and appreciated that everyone's hearts were in the right place, but bless their hearts, if they could just get a songleader who could carry a tune. Most places are somewhere in between. We know that God requires our best, so why is it so hard to keep our eyes focused on worshipping Him and to do a good job musically as well?
Well, when we visited our current church when we moved here a few months ago, I knew almost immediately that we had come to the right place. It was our very first Sunday visiting this new congregation. I already knew that the worship minister was musically talented; I had seen him lead music at church camp before. We were impressed by the praise team, the instrumentalists, the chosen song mix, and the participation of the congregation. Then came the test. A boy walked up onto the stage in the middle of the worship service. He seemed to be lost in the music, oblivious to the audience. To be honest, I expected someone to come across the stage and rush him quietly out of the room, but that is not what happened at all. As he walked over to a singer and touched her face, she smiled at him and took his hand. He continued to walk around the stage, looking at the different instruments, trying to figure out how they made the sounds they did, and everyone just kept singing. He walked over to the worship minister, peering at his guitar, and the worship minister turned slightly away from the microphone, holding the guitar towards him so he could see and hear it better. There was no interruption to the worship whatsoever. After the song was over, the boy left the stage, and the worship minister spoke. "For those of you who may be new here, this is our friend, Tommy (name changed to protect privacy). Tommy is autistic, and sometimes music can reach him in ways that nothing else can. He is part of our church family here, and this is part of his worship. We are glad he can worship God with us through music." Wow. Musical excellence for God with no concern for putting on a "show." Evidence that the people in this congregation wanted to truly worship God, in spirit and in truth; and that they cared about every single member of the family of God. Yes, we were in the right place.