The Music Fades:
The Eternal Truth Behind "The Heart
by Paul Martin
1993, God has been doing something special
in a working class town on the outskirts
of London - something called Soul Survivor.
What started as an evangelistic outreach
to youth in Watford, England, has snowballed
into an annual youth conference, a local
congregation, and now a worldwide interdenominational
youth initiative organization. Led by
its' founder Mike Pilavachi, Soul Survivor
has since spread to Canada, Holland,
South Africa, Australia, and the United
Redman, writer of such well-known worship
songs as "Heart of Worship,"
has emerged as one of the worship leaders
for Soul Survivor ministry in the United
Kingdom. Centering themselves on the
values of worship, relationship and
getting out there and "living the
life," the conferences in England
currently draw 17,000 people over three
weeks from across the globe.
bring to light the story of what God
has done in Soul Survivor and the life-changing
lessons He has taught them, WLW Magazine
has asked Paul Martin, leader of Soul
Survivor here in the United States,
to write our feature article. Our intent
is that in reading this feature, you
will be compelled to move beyond being
"connoisseurs" of worship
to full-fledged participants.
are a culture of critics.
music, television, restaurants - it
seems nothing is safe from our analytical
eye. But what happens when that same
mentality creeps into our worship of
amazing how similarly we answer these
did you think of that movie last night?"
"How did you like the worship this
think it was great."
"Kind of boring."
"I fell asleep."
had forgotten that we are ALL the
performers of worship and that God
is the audience."
this dynamic normal? Is it right or
wrong, good or bad? Shouldn't people,
especially the worship team, engage
in expressing their views?
Mike Pilavachi, from London, tells the
following story of a season in which
his church wrestled with this very issue:
it began, Soul Survivor has always given
plenty of time over to worshiping through
music. Over the years, people have poured
out their hearts to God through it,
and there have been plenty of examples
of great things happening as a result.
However, there was a season when we
realized that something was 'up' with
first, it was difficult to put our finger
on the problem. On the surface, everything
was just fine: the musicians were tuning
their instruments and the soundmen were
getting out of bed on time. Each service
contained a block of songs that focused
on the cross and gave people the chance
to get down to business with God. To
make this easier, the music was (nearly)
up-to-date, the chairs had disappeared
and the lights were low - What better
atmosphere for young people to worship
we seemed to have lost the spark. We
seemed to be going through the motions,
but I noticed that although we were
singing the songs, our hearts, were
far from Him. Was it Matt Redman's fault?
I listened. He wasn't singing any more
off notes than usual. Then one day it
clicked; we had become connoisseurs
of worship instead of participants of
our hearts, we were giving the worship
team grades on a scale from one to ten:
'Not that song again,' 'I can't hear
the bass,' 'I like the way she sings
better.' We had made the band the performers
of worship and ourselves the audience.
had forgotten that we are ALL the performers
of worship and that God is the audience.
We had forgotten that sacrifice is central
to biblical worship. We are called to
offer our bodies as living sacrifices
- this is OUR spiritual act of worship
(Romans 12:1). We are called to offer
our sacrifice of praise (Heb. 13:15).
were challenged to ask ourselves individually,
'When I come through the door of the
church, what am I bringing as my contribution
to worship?' The truth came to us: worship
is not a spectator sport, it is not
a product molded by the taste of the
consumers. It is not about what we can
get out of it; it is all about God.
needed to take drastic action. For a
while, in order to truly learn this
lesson, we banned the band. We fired
we sat around in circles and said that
if no one brought a sacrifice of praise,
we would spend the meeting in silence.
At the beginning we virtually did! It
was a very painful process. We were
learning again not to rely on the music.
a while, we began to have some very
sweet times of worship. We all began
to bring our prayers, our readings,
our prophecies, our thanksgiving, our
praises and our songs. Someone would
start a song a cappella and we would
all join in. Then someone else would
take it on to another song. The excitement
came back. We were not having Church;
we were once again meeting with God.
With all the comforts stripped away,
we worshiped from the heart.
we had learned our lesson, we brought
the band back. It was at this point
that Matt began to sing the song he
had written out of this experience.
I wept as we sang it for the first time.
The words expressed exactly what was
the music fades,
All is stripped away, and I simply
Longing just to bring
Something that's of worth
That will bless your heart
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.
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
When it's all about you,
All about you Jesus.
of endless worth
No one could express
How much you deserve.
Though I'm weak and poor
All I have is yours, every single
I [Paul Martin] first heard this story,
it nearly knocked the wind out of me!
As a musician who had been very involved
in worship training and recording for
years, I regretfully realized that church
had become more like a night out at
the movies, an opportunity for me express
my expertise, and to rank "how
good it was."
you are involved in worship at your
church, I would humbly ask you to search
for a balance between heart and sound.
Yes, we are encouraged in scripture
to "play skillfully" before
the Lord. But this must always follow
a heart that is yearning to bless Him.
Martin is the Director of Soul Survivor-USA