Back in December, we had an opportunity to reconnect with dear friends at the Pitman Road Church in Sewell, NJ. On that occasion, I was also asked to fill in on their stealth (my label, not theirs; I use it to mean “heard but not really seen”) praise team. I was happy to be asked to serve in that way, but I’ve been ambivalent about the effectiveness of praise teams for a few years now, so . . . as the prep minutes transpired and I was given my mic, I wasn’t thinking particularly hopefully about what might happen in the following hour. I’m afraid I wasn’t very expectant — either for myself or for others — with regard to the coming corporate worship time.
I turned out to be quite wrong.
Something did happen — both in me and in those around me: Christians worshipped and were inspired, and the experience turned out to be more than worthwhile.
Songs such as “In Christ Alone,” “He Paid a Debt,” and “You Are My King” were sung, and there was not only a good amplified mix of voices (technical stuff can be important), but also, and much more important, a strong congregational energy was present. A palpable sense of engagement was in evidence, and I am confident that many were worshipping God spiritually and truly.
I have devoted considerable energies to congregational worship activities steadily since I was a teenager, so what I’m about to say is in a way difficult to admit. For quite a few years, my drive to lead and guide congregational worship in larger gatherings has been waning. I have not had much hope that any positive trends were occurring with CofC church worship, and I’m still taking a wait-and-see. Private and small-group worship may be where I continue to work more energetically. But in the meantime, I’m trying to put the brakes on the train of decreasing hope.
Thanks for the good experience and the transferred hopefulness, Pitman Road Church. Even these eight months after, I remember that good, shared time.