The week before Stacy and I moved to Florida (January 2009), I had the neat opportunity to play piano for CJ Blount. Here's a great video of him doing a familiar tune "Hear Us From Heaven":
CJ was asked to assemble a worship band and lead music for a college-aged outreach event in Birmingham (more recent than the video above). If I wanted to make this post even longer, I would fill up some space ranting about how amazing the musicians in this band were, but I'll stick to my point. What was striking to me was that the students knew EVERY WORD of the songs we sang. As far as I can remember, there weren't any powerpoint lyrics, and there certainly weren't any bulletins. The students simply gathered around the stage area and sang every last word from memory. They seemed to all of a sudden forget their surroundings, or who might be watching - they lifted their hands, closed their eyes and enjoyed God.
This is my prayer for St. Andrews - that we enjoy God in our worship. One of the goals of our music team is to help create an "atmosphere" of worship, meaning that we want to prepare our music in such a way that it feels effortless for the congregation to enter in to worship. I want us to be able to worship God freely without worrying about what's proper or safe. I want each person in the pew to feel the freedom to sing for joy to God. Isn't that how David described his worship experience? "How lovely are they dwelling places, O Lord of hosts. My soul longs and even yearns for the courts of the Lord. My heart and flesh SING FOR JOY to the living God" (Psalm 84). Oh, how much more ready our hearts will be to hear the preaching of God's Word if we have entered into His presence from the very first note.
Don't worry - we won't force you to memorize all the lyrics or learn all new songs every week. But consider this: if you know the song...is there really a need to stare at the words? Don't be ashamed! Let your heart be captured by God in worship and let Him minister to you as you meditate on the lyrics. I promise you...it's a lot better than trying to be safe.