One thing that identifies a Pentecostal is his or her love for worship. We take a look at how worship helps a Pentecostal Christian grow in God.
Pentecostal Christians believe in the direct experience of God through the baptism of the Holy Spirit. One of the most powerful ways to experience God is through worship.
That is why for Pentecostals, worship is a full-body, participatory engagement with God. In Pentecostal churches, worship services are dominated by the experiential. Much like the people of God in the Scriptures, Pentecostals believe that worship services should be filled with the tangible presence and power of God.
These encounters in God’s presence are crucial in a Pentecostal Christian’s life. It deepens their sense of love for God and the worship of Him. It results in greater joy in praying and continuous thanksgiving to God and gives a heightened awareness of protection from temptation and suffering. Also, it enhances their anticipation of divine guidance and God’s blessing.
HOW WORSHIP BUILDS THE CHRISTIAN LIFE
As a Classical Pentecostal church, City Harvest Church loves to praise and worship God. In an opinion piece, a pioneer of the church, Serina Perera describes how she and her churchmates would spend hours worshipping God in the early days of Ekklesia Ministry (before the church was registered as CHC), lingering in the presence of God.
All of them were young in the Lord then and lyrics to the songs—“holiness unto the Lord”, “we will abandon it all, for the sake of the call”, “I have a destiny I know I must fulfil”, “I was born for such a time as this”, “Christ in you, the hope of glory”, “a heart that follows after You”—inspired them to live for Jesus.
She wrote, “For many of us ‘old-timers’, it’s not about wanting to hold on to the past or being unable to let go. The connection we have to songs of our era brings us back to our first love with the Lord.”
In a meeting with the church staff, CHC’s senior pastor, Kong Hee explained why worship is important to Pentecostals. Firstly, he noted that, instead of delving into theological books, Pentecostals tend to learn about God through oral modes of communication—through sermons, testimonies, worship, moving in the Spirit and fellowship with one another.
One of the ways Pentecostals experience God is through music. “Pentecostal worship tends to be less formal and more emotionally expressive than other Christian traditions. There is also more active congregational involvement,” Pastor Kong said. “Music is as necessary as studying theology because music unites people. Music transmits spiritual truths and values. It influences our behaviour. It gives us a vision for life.”
He gave the example of the song “Way Maker” by Leeland. The lyrics teach a deep theological truth: “Even when I don’t see it, You’re working / Even when I don’t feel it You’re working.”
“It tells us that God is working all the time. An uneducated man may not understand theological books, but when you sing a song like that, the words stay in his mind, and he remembers them. He knows God is working for him. He is the Way Maker, Promise Keeper, Miracle Worker,” Pastor Kong said.
This oral mode of communication is in line with Jesus’s method of teaching theology. He did not start a Bible school or give lectures, but he taught sermons and shared parables by talking. He demonstrated the love of God through signs and wonders. Over a meal, He taught His disciples what it meant to love the poor. “Jesus was very deep and scholarly, and yet oral,” said the pastor.
Another Pentecostal distinctive is speaking in tongues. In worship, the congregation would also sing in tongues spontaneously. “It’s a powerful, unifying experience,” the pastor shared. “Suddenly, it doesn’t matter if you’re rich or poor, educated or illiterate. We can all come together, pray in one accord, and build up our faith in the spirit corporately and individually as we speak in tongues, and all move as one body. Tongues unite all of us together.”
CityWorship song leaders Teo Poh Heng and Amos Ang taught about spontaneous worship in a workshop on developing a heart of worship. They taught that spontaneous worship is singing something outside the words and melody of your chosen songs. It is an outflow response of our worship toward God’s love, goodness, kindness, mercy and forgiveness.
Apostle Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 14:26, “When you come together, each one has a hymn, a lesson, a revelation, a tongue, or an interpretation. Let all things be done for building up.” Spontaneous worship testifies to the goodness and greatness of God, and it encourages and builds up fellow saints in the congregation.
Whenever Pentecostal Christians go through temptation or periods of suffering, they seek God in worship, because it heightens their awareness to the protection of God. When they worship God, they anticipate His guidance—they know that God will speak to their hearts if they wait for Him in worship.