My Anthem of Worship
by Thomas Nickel (Boxcast)
“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. –John 15:5
As I reflect on my own external ministry, and my own inward world of faith, the concept of Worship is one that I have pondered for years.
Regardless of how you define worship in your own relationship with our creator, one thing that I believe it can not exist without, is surrender. Whether it be by our kneeling, our singing, our prayer, or our silent mediation, I believe that true Worship is only found in the moment where our hearts surrender to that of the One who created and knows us.
As someone who has been in youth ministry for 11 years, I can look back at the beat-up acoustic guitars, overheated presentation laptops, burnt-out projector bulbs, and all of the other resources we have quite literally burned through, in the pursuit of creating worship and facilitating an event.
While I would never make the statement that these things are irrelevant, I will boldly state that they are not of the utmost importance for your ministry.
As someone who works with churches every day now, I see many people getting hung up on all the tools they use to facilitate their worship.
I am self admittedly a gear head. And there is so much fun tech and gear out there, that absolutely can expand your reach. I look at all the ways my own church has utilized the tech around us, to help maintain a great relationship with our community through this pandemic, and now as we figure out what normal is now, the ways we continue to serve and love people far and near as well as lifting our voices to worship our King.
One thing that I have to continually remind myself of though, is that with the wrong heart, all of this can quite literally be “a gonging symbol” (1. Cor 13:1), if the words we choose say, are not speaking life over others and lifting up our Father in the Heavens.
I look at my own life, and the only way I can be sure that my words will bring life and not death to someone else is that I surrender to the creator, myself.
So often we get caught up in the shuffle of creating an experience for others, we forget to have an experience with God, for ourselves.
John 15 and Jesus’ words on the vine and the Branches have been an anthem in my life the last several years, as I have had to constantly remind myself of the need to abide in Christ.
In John 15:5 specifically, he says that without him we can do nothing.
I think a lot of times when ministry can often feel fruitless and come back to the fact that we do not know the voice of the father. We have not spent time with him enough to know his voice or know what the fruit he’s grown through our Abiding.
Years ago, my friend and ministry partner Brian introduced me to a concept he referred to as the Circle of Joy.
I have heard other Christian writers and thinkers share similar concepts, but he was the first I had personally heard, express it in these words.
We often focus on creating an experience for others and facilitating an event, before actually going into a spirit of worship and surrender, so our work can feel fruitless.
Instead, when our hearts truly worship, we can actually experience our Father and know his voice. Which in turn, leads us to further cry out in worship. And the circle is complete. Where experience and worship flow into one another in our spirit of Abiding.
I hope that in this new year, we all see to worship first, and let our own hearts kneel before our Father and King. That we may continue to find ourselves in a cycle, where experience and worship can flow from one another, without interruption, instead of facilitating an event in our own power that starts and ends when our calendars dictate, so that the tech and tools we use, may follow the Holy leading of our hearts, where God dwells.
My anthem, going into 2022, will continue to be one of Surrender and Worship. That I may experience the father, and turn back into the Circle of Joy.”
About the author:
Thomas is a husband to his wife Emily, and a father to his son, Jet. He helps churches with their video streaming through his job at BoxCast. In his free time, he loves playing guitar and helping with production at his church, hiking with his family, camping with his buddies, lifting weights, and serving through local youth ministry via Young Life.