Have you ever been in a situation where you couldn’t hear yourself think? Maybe because of a constant stream of noise, too much going on, or the volume was just overwhelming?
And if everything would just settle down, you would be able to gain clarity, insight, or understanding that would be extremely valuable?
Even for people who love lots of “action,” those moments of quiet are vitally important.
Now, let me ask you this…
Have you ever been the person responsible for someone’s inability to be quiet, to listen, and to think?
You might have been and not even know it.
Every week, people gather together in an event known as corporate worship as the church. For some people, this is one of the main times when they have the opportunity to stop and hear God speaking. For others, it’s unfortunately the only time. It goes without saying, this shouldn’t be, but that’s a post for another time.
But, let’s be honest. We as worship leaders and pastors have an unintentional tendency to prevent that from happening. We think we have to fill every moment of the time we have together with talking, music, creative elements, etc. because it’s the one chance we’ve got that week to move people along in their journey.
Here’s the thing, though. It doesn’t work. We fill the time in the name of “creating moments,” and in the process prevent the One best suited for bringing change, conviction (as necessary), and transformation from working.
Better than we ever could, the Holy Spirit is able to bring change and transformation in people’s lives. He is able to bring understanding and comprehension around truth in our spirits. In conjunction with the Word of God (which is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness according to 2 Tim. 3:16), the Holy Spirit can illuminate minds and can speak into the deep parts of souls much better than any words we can say.
So, we don’t we let that happen?
As important as the preaching, songs, videos, prayers, etc is when we gather, so is the opportunity to be quiet. Why do we forget that God will most often speak to us in the quiet moments? God didn’t speak to Elijah in the storm and earthquake, but with a quiet voice. Psalm 46:10 reminds us to be still and know that He is God. Throughout the Psalms is the concept of Selah, which encourages people to be quiet and reflect on what was just conveyed.
Our lives, minds, and world are full of noise. Some of it good, and some of it not, but noise that drowns out the transforming voice of God. Sometimes, it’s our own good intentions as spiritual leaders that do that. Sometimes our worship services become a great hiding place for people who don’t want to have to reckon with the truth of God.
Which is sad. We avoid providing the very opportunity people need because we think they will get bored, it will be uncomfortable, or we’re running out of time.
So the very thing we want so desperately to happen in people’s lives – responding to God – doesn’t. “But won’t people go home and ponder that transforming truth that was so creatively presented?” Let’s not fool ourselves, that doesn’t really happen. How often have you gone home and “thought about” truth, especially if you weren’t involved in presenting it?
So, let me offer you this simple encouragement –
It’s ok to be quiet. It’s ok to stop talking, playing music, etc. It’s ok to let those moments of quiet happen, and not feel like we’re wasting time. It’s ok to teach about the importance of being quiet and listening, and then actually doing it. Regularly.
At the church I serve, we try to build opportunities for this into the service order. Sometimes we do it intentionally, and sometimes it’s a matter of recognizing those “holy” moments.
We don’t always do it well, but we try to make the space.
Because it’s in those moments, when we’ve been faithful to lead as the Holy Spirit has directed us, and when we are listening for His voice, that we hear God challenge, encourage, comfort, or convict. And then response, surrender, and obedience can happen.
And isn’t that what we really want to see happen?
(I once lead a service focused completely on the concept of Selah. Check it out.)