For those of you who didn’t read my last post, I spent the last two weeks in the Dominican Republic. I was chaperoning a school trip that went to Jarabacoa to work with a Missions Organization called Students International. It’s the same group that I worked with in Costa Rica and I essentially think it’s the haps, the bee’s knees, all around awesome sauce. SI runs several sustained missions sites in the DR covering different areas of community development/service/etc.: Medical, Dental, Physical Therapy, Microfinance, Social Work, Education, Sports, Special Needs Education, and Construction. The nuts and bolts of the operation is to have sustained investment in different areas of ministry that short term student groups can visit, assist, and support. While we were there, I had the opportunity to float from site to site and participate/observe what was going on in each one. I basically did the same thing last year, but this year I was able to spend more time at each site and see students from my school dive in as opposed to kids I didn’t really know. It was pretty awesome. What was unexpected about the whole thing was how much God rocked me during the whole process. That kind of left-fielded me and I’m still processing all of the things that I saw, learned from, and was hit by. I’ll probably be writing a lot, albeit somewhat sporadically, about the trip.
One of the coolest experiences I had there was the day I visited Genesis, the special needs school that SI operates in the area. While we were there a group from Georgia was running a camp for the kids from the school and we had a chance to sit back and watch the program while hanging out with the students. It was easily one of my favorite days on the trip and I learned a ton. That morning, as part of the program, one of the students led worship for the group. It was rad. He sang a simple worship song, was backed up by guitar, and just sang his guts out. While he did, he started leading the group in worship, calling on people to clap (which they did), raise their hands (which they did), and kneel in worship (which some did and some kinda went “come on now” about). The whole thing struck me for a number of reasons. First, it was one of the best moments of worship leading I’ve ever experienced. It was genuine and humble and raw and unpolished and real and you could just see the overflow of joy for God in the kid’s worship. Second, when he hit his knees and encouraged people to follow some did, some didn’t, and some kind of half did it. But that didn’t matter. He continued to physically throw himself into worship in a way that was unaffected by whether or not those around him matched his intensity. Third, I totally balked for a second when he encouraged everyone to kneel. I was kind of thinking “should I? like really? I dunno”
All of these things came together to point out the fact that when I lead worship I’m way to focused on production, technique, polish, format, equipment and far too little concerned with worshiping God genuinely, with letting God do his thing, and with letting myself be impacted when that happens. I’m a naturally intense person and when I get into worship I really do. My arms are raised, I sing loud and don’t worry about how clean my voice sounds, I jump or dance. I almost never lead worship that way. This is a problem. It’s too sterile, too poised, too comfortable. My relationship with God has never been any of these things so why should I act that way when I’m trying to lead people into a posture of worship? Why should I sell that relationship short? Why should I be so fake. I’m really compelled to be more unhinged when I lead in the coming year. I think it’s going to take a lot of intentionality and accountability. I think it’s going to be kick you in the teeth awesome if I can allow God to work that change in my life.