Authenticity is a State of Heart – Not a Style of Worship.

Friday, September 25th, 2015


The prophet Elijah trembled in his cave as a mighty wind tore up the mountain. But the LORD was not in it.
He cowered as an earthquake shook him to the core. But the Lord was not in it.
An inexplicable fire raged. But the Lord was not in it.
But after the fire came an unassuming, gentle whisper.  And the LORD was in it. (1 Kings 19:11-13)


We love to experience the presence of God in the small things. In the humble things. So as a band we wrote a whole record about this idea of a campfire. We used simple, acoustic instruments and sang with a tiny gathering of our friends and family about the faithfulness and majesty of our God around an open flame and it just felt right.

In that season of our lives we were just a wee bit burned out from the “megachurch” experience with the stage and the lights and the “stuff”. We’re yearning for an authentic, raw experience of God. We felt like some of the things that were meant to be helping us draw near to the throne were actually distracting us from it. We felt like Elijah – that He wasn’t in the strobes, the amps or the special effects, but He was in the unpolished, unvarnished offering.

And we were right – He was in it.

But the mistake we could make is thinking that He is ONLY in the small things. That authentic and professional can’t go together. That everything polished is fake.

That was the way we used to think, but let’s recall another story from the Bible.

On the Day of Pentecost, the apostles were shaken by a violent wind, and a mysterious fire appeared above their heads. (Do these elements sound familiar?) But this time the LORD was in it – explosively, earth-shatteringly in it. (Acts 2)

This is an unquestionably authentic experience of God and it was SPECTACULAR! There were pyrotechnics for goodness sake!

But the mistake we could make is thinking that He is ONLY in the small things.

Does God reveal Himself with a bit of “divine showmanship” at times? Absolutely.

Our God is not limited to just one pathway to experiencing His presence – He is the God of every season, colour, shape, wavelength, sound – you name it— it’s His.

So on our most recent album As Family We Go we wrote songs that are arena-sized, designed for confetti cannon bursts and bubble machines, with dancing pandas in our music videos.

And we’re not embarrassed about it, or shy about it or timid. Nor do we believe it’s any less spiritual.

Because our God is the God of the silence and of raucous joyful noise, of the big and the small, the light and the shade.

We can have a campfire heart at a stadium concert, and have hypocrites at house church.

Authenticity is a state of heart – not a style of worship.

So whatever your worship gathering looks like and whatever your context, know that God can show up no matter how big or small, professional or amateur, colourful or sombre it is.

If you come from a megachurch, don’t look down on the little guy. Maybe God is in that “gentle whisper”.

If you’re worshipping on an acoustic guitar in a living room with a cluster of friends, don’t be so arrogant as to assume your worship is more “real” than the big church in the city.

Repeat with me : authenticity is a state of heart; not a style of worship.

10 responses to “Authenticity is a State of Heart – Not a Style of Worship.”

  1. Julia Gordon says:

    Well said….and no matter what we sound like on earth,our praise will make a joyful noise in heaven!!

  2. Terri Lea Smith says:

    Amen, and thank you for this very important reminder!!

  3. Christina Kuo says:

    So true. Because let’s face it, we can’t all be around a campfire on a beach all the time. 🙂 Neither can all of us afford big stages and lights. Let’s just be authentic in our hearts with where we are and with what we have and let our “style” be the fruit of that.

  4. Raohnnie Jackson says:

    While I find this quite true I can’t help but to realize how much the atmosphere of where we are affects the perspective of our minds and attitudes of our hearts. This being said, good article non the less.

  5. Abby says:

    Please come to Waco, Texas at Baylor University!! We would love to have you!!!!!

  6. MT says:

    Wow, such goodness in here!

    Really enjoyed this, “Our God is not limited to just one pathway to experiencing His presence – He is the God of every season, colour, shape, wavelength, sound – you name it— it’s His.”

  7. Tracy Tombe says:

    not much said in these comments that adds to what you have bellowed in whispers of love & encouragement. I am. Ta

  8. Jeff Keady says:

    Very, very excellent article you guys! Written with care and humility. A non-judgmental attitude. Very nice, and a great reminder for all of us “professional” church leaders. Thank you!

  9. Steve Mason says:

    Oh my Chris how much I needed this. We all need this. As a musician and sound engineer at a small church how easy it is to find myself longing for the ‘big worship’ effects and forgetting the most important thing that you point out – it’s about the heart. Always. Thank you. I sent this to my pastor and he sent it to our entire congregation. A very uniting message. Love you all!

  10. Timothy Cummings says:

    Thank you so much for this. It is a similar insight to what Jonathan Edwards observed at the time of the Great Awakening in the American colonies. Sometimes the Spirit worked in deep stillness; sometimes he caused dramatic emotional expression. Yet emotional expression does not mean the Spirit is present (nor does stillness). It is about Him. I pray that the Lord would continue to use you; you have been an instrument of blessing to me. Remember David’s big fall did not come in the wilderness, but in the palace!

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