Most of them came expectantly.
I think that makes all the difference.
It was a 'night of worship'. If you're a person who follows Christ, you probably have a perspective of 'worship' unique to your upbringing, your experience, your history and your culture. Even if you are a Christian who does not go to church regularly, you have some connotation of 'worship'.
If you are not a Christian, you probably have some idea of what 'worship' looks like. Or feels like.
Culturally, anyone in our Western civilization has probably experienced a form of something like 'worship' - at a sporting event, a John Mayer concert, a political event.
'Worship' is attention paid and affection given. It's focus.
And it's preceded, I believe, by expectation.
So people came out to this venue tonight, expecting to see something or feel something, maybe to be given something. It was billed as a night of worship so there were probably few surprises...
....unless your experience of worship wasn't anything like what happened.
The band and the production values were excellent. The flow of material and content was well-planned. The songs themselves were well-written, melodic and easily singable - even for those hearing them for the first time.
On a personal level, it was powerful. I decided to set down the responsibility I had as a staff member and simply be in the moment. I had a seat in the fourth row and it was a brilliant place to observe, engage and participate.
I was convicted; reminded of things that slip to the periphery, things like What if we really believed this?
I had an opportunity to look around, as I stood next to a woman whose friendship was walked us in and out of many moments of worship (including our first encounter with All Sons & Daughters at STORY in Chicago. I saw standing in the next row three young men who inhabit a tender place in my heart. Across the aisle I saw my daughter, standing with members of her own tribe, hands raised high and face radiant. I saw other musician friends to my right. Every where I looked, I saw attention and affection. We made room and space for that tonight, and what I saw around me echoed my own experience.
But here's what I noticed, after a day engaging with young men and women living out the minor celebrity of an immensely popular contemporary Christian worship band. In the midst of the production, the gear, the graphics, the lights, the hazer - all to be expected to create the expected environment - there was this:
After the final song, a huge, big sing-along, they invited the opening act out to join them for the expected big finale...
....which was not the expected big finale.
They unplugged the guitars, moved away from the microphones and stepped into the audience space. The house lights came up and we all looked into one another's eyes.
And the church sang, honestly, compassionately, authentically, these words:
When the music fades and all is stripped away
And I simply come
Longing just to bring something that's of worth
That will bless your heart
I'll bring you more than a song, for a song in itself
Is not what you have required
You search much deeper within, through the way things appear
You're looking into my heart
I'm coming back to the heart of worship
And it's all about You
All about You, Jesus
I'm sorry, Lord, for the thing I've made it
When it's all about You
All about You, Jesus
This was one of the most powerful experiences I've ever had. Well, that sounds sort of cliche...
It was awesome.
It was meaningful.
Here's the deal: It was simply solid and very, very good. Tim Timmons and All Sons & Daughters are hosting a 'Night of Worship' on this tour. It is not expensive.
If you are a follower of Jesus, this will fill you. If you are not a follower of Jesus, it would give you a glimpse into a gentle, honest style of Christianity that often gets shouted down by the loud, harsh, mean, angry voices of people who identify as Christians.
If they are coming close to your town, you should go.
The tour includes:
Allentown, Leo, Ann Arbor, Canton, Grand Rapids, Columbus, Waco, Austin, Waxahachie, Houston, Kentwood, Birmingham, Toccoa Falls, Gainesville, Tampa and Apopka.
You will be blessed.