So the other day I was at this event called “The Gathering” that is put on every Tuesday night at Grand Canyon University.
It is a student lead event where students gather at 8 PM at night to worship the Lord as a unified body and to hear the gospel from leaders on campus, students, the occasional outside Pastor, and good ole’ Timmy G. (A few weeks ago he used his most recent trip to Disneyland in his message and I was so stinkin’ happy. Anyways….)
As worship commenced and we all began to pour our hearts out, I couldn’t help but look around the room at all the different people. Some people were dancing their hearts out to the music, others were standing in place. Some were singing gently, and others were screaming their hearts out with their hands in the air. Seeing this made me feel so unbelievably loved. Why? Because I was surrounded by people who loved Jesus just as much, if not more, than I do.
I wanted everyone to see this and know that they are so loved and that they are not alone. However, I remember a time a few years ago when I would go to church or go to events like this and just feel so out of place. Why? Because I did not worship like all of these people did. I did not feel like I belonged with these people who were unafraid to show their love for Jesus like that. I felt like I did not love Jesus like they did. I felt alone.
I was not used to this type of worship and how extravagant it was. I remember growing up, the church’s I went to only sang slow hymns and had a very systematic way of doing things. You wore certain clothes, acted a certain way, and kept the tradition alive. It was a very conservative way of worship.
Am I trying to condemn the church for being that way? No not at all. It is extremely beautiful and there is so much beauty in tradition, however, I soon discovered that I was different. I could not connect to the Lord the way that I had been told to growing up.
Coming to GCU introduced many new things to me, like the importance of community and the fact that I can actually talk to God every day and it does not have to be this whole ceremonial thing, but the most valuable to me and the most important, was the fact that I could worship out loud. This form of worship is often referred to as modern-day worship, or “millennial” worship.
Honestly, I don’t like the whole label of “millennial” Christianity because I think it creates a division that is not necessary and very isolating, but anyways…
I have heard from numerous people in my life and growing up that this was not the way to worship the Lord. We have been referred to as unpredictable, naïve, emotionally driven, and over-glorified. Yes, I have seriously heard all of these things and I think some light needs to be shed on this type of worship, the worship that brought me closer to my Father in Heaven.
Yes, we are spontaneous, but here is what I have to say about that. This spontaneity is rooted in the fact that so many of the “millennial” Christians I know are so willing to drop EVERYTHING and follow the Lord. If they feel that the Lord is calling them to do missions, they will willingly go without question. I have seen so many instances where an individual is sitting at a table by themselves or is clearly having an emotional day, and one of my friends or a “millennial” Christian will drop whatever they are doing to go and talk to that person, just so they know that they have been heard and cared for.
Yes, in many situations, it seems like we are emotionally driven and it can definitely be overwhelming. I even previously mentioned that when I first witnessed “millennial” worship I felt out of place. I can also think of situations where some people have been too caught up in the emotional aspect of having a relationship with God and forgetting that it’s actually work to keep the relationship alive. However, the emotions we express are one of my favorite things about being a so called “millennial” Christian because it establishes another way that we can all connect to each other. There have been situations in my life where I have felt unexplainable pain and I felt like there was not anyone who could relate to me, but when I heard other “millennial” Christians also share their pain and hurt, I suddenly felt love from unexpected places. I knew in those moments that I was not alone and we could share the emotions we felt with the same perspective, that God see’s our pain and is with us. It did not necessarily have to be backed by some sort of logic, we could be broken humans together and not fear that we were breaking some rules or violating some sort of system to do so.
These are just a few things about so called “millennial” worship that is misunderstood, but one thing I want people to know is that it’s okay if you do not worship like we do. If you go to events like the Gathering and don’t feel comfortable jumping up and down or putting your hands in the air, THAT IS OKAY! What I have learned while being in this type of community is the fact that that is actually the point. When we come together to worship as a unified body, the point is for us all to be with the Lord in the way that makes us most comfortable. Now this does not mean that when we come together that you should strip nude and start running around or something cause, for obvious reasons, that’s not okay, but I think it’s important to know that we all connect to the Lord in our own ways. (Again, discernment is advised haha).
On that note, it is also important to know that in no way am I trying to condemn those who worship differently because at the end of the day, I think the most important worship that we do is how we daily live our lives. Our actions and the lives we live should daily profess the love of Jesus and honestly, I think that you should do this without actually saying “Jesus” unless the opportunity arises where someone asks and wants to know more. That is your chance to tell the world about the special love of God, shown to us through so many ways, including his son Jesus Christ. Remember that things like jumping up and down and putting your hand in the air during worship does not mean that you are better or more “connected” to God. We are all different and that’s what makes us as followers of Christ so awesome! We are different and unified through those differences.