Article photograph by Jonny Norridge
Intimacy, Integrity & Accessibility
When it comes to worship in the Vineyard there are three main values that we hold dear. These values underpin our approach to worship, both in the spiritual sense in how we conduct our everyday lives and also in the practical expression of our worship through the writing and recording of songs.
Value 1 – Intimacy
Intimacy in worship is one of the foundations of the Vineyard movement. When John and Carol Wimber and others began meeting in a home in 1977 in California, they gathered because they were hungry to meet with God. And so, for years Vineyard worship around the world has been marked by songs that are simple expressions of love and devotion. The Bible is full of accounts of intimate worship. As David looked after the sheep he sang intimate songs to the Lord. He continued when he became king of Israel. The woman in Luke 7 worshipped intimately as she poured perfume on the feet of Jesus. Intimacy will always be our highest calling and aim in this life and then, when we pass on to the other side, it’s only going to get better.
Value 2 – Integrity
If there ever was a time when people are looking for integrity in leaders, that time is now. It is evident that people are expecting trustworthiness in all of life, and are not quite so willing to separate the private from the public. Integrity simply means wholeness, naturalness, the condition of being undivided. A consistency between private and public life. Amos 5:23 ‘Away with your hymns of praise – they are mere noise to my ears. I will not listen to your music, no matter how lovely.’ We need to face the truth that if we don’t have integrity God hates our worship! There is such protection in this truth. God doesn’t want us to come to Him as we think we should be, but as we are. And if as we are is not pleasing to Him and not in line with His Word, them we cry out for his mercy to change us. That’s all He asks of us.
Value 3 – Accessibility
In the past few years our society has made huge strides to make public places more accessible to those with special needs. People with wheelchairs, hearing difficulties and the like can enjoy more events and places than ever before. Sometimes as leaders, we need to ask some of the same questions that brought about change in the places we live: Is our worship accessible for all, or is it only accessible for those who artistically able and mystical? Making worship accessible sometimes means that we need something called restraint in worship. Restraint is the backbone of making music that others can follow and enter into.
Here are a few tips on restraint during worship:
1. Restraint is picking songs that will say what the majority of the people gathered want to say to God.
2. Restraint is the discipline not to play or sing all the time – if you fill in the spaces with ‘your stuff’ the music cannot breath and the congregation feels overwhelmed.
3. Restraint is the realization that the notes you don’t play are just as important as the ones you do.
4. Restraint is not adding tons of embellishments to a song that others cannot follow or sing.
Restraint in worship isn’t necessarily easy and it doesn’t always feel good to you as a worship leader. But it is right. If we lose accessibility, we will lose the people.
For more on the values of The Vineyard you might want to check out the fantastic booklet ‘Leading Worship in the Vineyard’. Written by Dan Wilt, it focuses on the history of Vineyard worship and the values that it is built upon.. You can download the booklet by following the link below.