“I have never heard the Avondale College Church filled with such magnificent singing,” was the response from a weekly participant in worship there. She was commenting on the singing by all the Australian pastors at the recent ministers’ meetings at Avondale. One of the musicians also commented, “The singing was so loud it drowned out the instruments.” The singing had power and conviction that was spine-tingling. There were times I found it hard to sing as the music and words overwhelmed me. For me, singing and praising God reveal the heart.
The most vivid memory from the first pastors’ meeting I attended as an intern was the singing. The instruments were a piano and guitar, but again the volume and emotion of thanksgiving overpowered them. Since then I have been to many pastors’ meetings in Australia, New Zealand, PNG, Samoa and the rest of the Pacific and, in each of them, the time of praise in song was a highlight. Sometimes it was completely a cappella.
As a long-term pastor I know I have weaknesses. As I interact with my female and male colleagues I observe and sometimes have to work through some of the issues we create. We are not perfect and need to grow in our discipleship with Jesus, just like everyone else. However, the extra “power” revealed in the times of worship shows that we pastors generally have a heart for God. I interpret this heart as a passion for God, His message, mission and church. This is confirmed as I listen to my colleagues at such gatherings.
We do get discouraged when our efforts do not produce the desired change in our community or church—so the pastors’ meetings give us a boost. But our greatest hope is that our heart for God is reflected in the church we work with to reach others.
It is no wonder that “inspiring worship” is one of the key characteristics of a healthy church. May God grant us all a heart for worship (Psalm 66:4).