How do you measure the Spirit?

I was watching video of myself leading worship two years ago. My voice was ridiculously off-pitch and the transitions were horrendous, but there was a spirit of worship in that place. You could tell by looking at the people on stage that they were into it. There were parts where you could hear the crowd singing over top of the band. In fact it was so powerful I found myself drawn into the video and worshiping right along with it. Not because things were technically good in any way, but because God inhabits the praises of his people.

Going into my first worship service at a new church I want a lot of things. I want the band to sound tight. I want the harmonies to gel. I want the music to be so well rehearsed that those on stage don’t need to think about it and they can focus on worshiping. I want the media and graphics to integrate seamlessly and I want the sound to be run transparently.

To one extent or another you can measure those things and should. We improve by measuring things we have control over. But how do you measure God’s spirit?

Tomorrow, more than great a great performance on behalf of the musicians or techs I want God to show up. I don’t really believe God “shows up,” I mean he’s omnipresent so he’s always there, but there’s a difference between being where God is present and being in the presence of God. I don’t know how to point to it or measure how much of it happens. But that’s what’s I’m praying for.

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12 Responses to “How do you measure the Spirit?”


  1. 1 matt January 12, 2008 at 7:19 pm

    I like your thoughts…

    I am not a musician, so I don’t lead worship musically, but I do preach.

    I’ve been doing my own informal “survey” on preaching and sermons. I ask people “what do you remember about sermons, preaching, or teaching that has impacted you?” For the most part nobody can remember a word – not a technique, method, style, or anything else that has to do with preaching, or public speaking, skills.

    No matter what they say, it almost always is reflective of, or describes, something about the “spirit” of the moment; and subsequently is is that spirit that impacted and changed them.

  2. 2 David Gross January 12, 2008 at 7:51 pm

    I know exactly what you are speaking of. I am a worship leader myself. Many times during worship, I feel as if I am struggling trying to catch the flow of the Spirit. And then, after the service is over, I will have two or three people approach me telling me how the presence of God really fell. They would tell me how annointed the music was, and I would be in awe that out of my moment of weakness, God could do so mutch. There is no greater feeling in life than knowing that God is using you to touch peoples lives so deeply.

  3. 3 Billy Chia January 12, 2008 at 9:18 pm

    Matt,
    Right on – sometimes the things we try so hard to prefect aren’t really noticed at all. But people take notice when God’s spirit is present.

    David,
    I’ve had the same experience – I thought things were terrible and others thought they were great. I love when God works despite our weaknesses.

  4. 4 Sarah Chia January 12, 2008 at 9:20 pm

    Glad you qualified that “God show up” statement. lol

    I’m praying for you for tomorrow.

  5. 5 Heidi January 12, 2008 at 11:38 pm

    Billy,

    Some of the best worship times I have had were without music, without lyrics, just voices. I love bands etc. don’t get me wrong, but sometimes I think God just wants to hear from our hearts.

    He’ll show up if you have.

    Praying for you!!! you’ll do awesome!!!

  6. 6 inWorship January 12, 2008 at 11:39 pm

    “there’s a difference between being where God is present and being in the presence of God”

    This is one of the best ways I have ever heard this said. Nice!

    I pray your day tomorrow is AMAZING! anxious to hear about it.

  7. 7 tam January 13, 2008 at 7:04 pm

    I’ve never been a big fan of the “God really showed up today” term. Like, was he on vacation or stuck at the DMV perhaps?

    Anyways, great post. Fantastic thoughts! I’m with B on that quote – very well said!

  8. 8 Billy Chia January 13, 2008 at 8:47 pm

    Heidi,
    I agree, I love to rock out but sometimes acapella is the best.

    Brent,
    Yeah I love that wording. Which is why I ripped it off from one of my college pastors 🙂

    Tam,
    DMV – lol.

  9. 9 Peter Park January 14, 2008 at 8:53 am

    After leading worship for a few years the most important thing to me is if God meets us wherever we are, so that we can worship Him. You can totally tell when you’re trying to make the Spirit move or when God is really showing up.

  10. 10 blu January 14, 2008 at 5:01 pm

    you would go crazy at peace’s contemporary service if you saw how much we don’t take your advice
    sometimes I go crazy about it
    but despite our super-loud drummer and mispelled slides,
    we get some good worship going here
    like yesterday when we sang For the moments I feel faint without any powerpoint
    I think I was the only one who knew all the words – including the band

    but it wasn’t awkward or anything
    God was there – and we understood that I think
    the band was even smiling afterwards : ]

  11. 11 Russ January 17, 2008 at 12:02 pm

    Because our environment is so different than a lot of traditional, blended, and contemporary services, we don’t “measure” whether the Spirit showed up or not by anything connected to music, teaching, or the “service” (read program) of the day.

    Instead, we listen to people’s stories. You’ll know if God is moving in the lives of the people you serve if their stories reflect it. You’ll hear about life change. You’ll hear about joy and peace. You’ll hear about despair being exchanged for gladness, and sorrow for dancing.

    You won’t hear about perfection, but you will hear about an assurance – a confidence that God is indeed moving in people’s lives.

    To me that’s the best measuring stick we can use. Because when the song is sung, when the talk is talked, and when the party’s over, what matters is changed lives, not a good service.

    I love this post, Billy. I resonate with what you said about God’s presence versus God being present. The way I like to “visualize” that is the connection. God is ALWAYS moving towards humanity. He has been for all time, it’s when we turn towards Him and truly connect with what He is doing and saying that we experience what people sometimes call a “move of God” or His “presence”…

    God is always moving towards us, it’s me and you that get stuck.

    Keep the great posts coming!

  12. 12 Terry Foester January 21, 2008 at 8:46 am

    Hey, these are all great comments and a great post. I agree with Russ that people’s story is one of the better reflections how we measure the effects of the spirit moving.

    In reality the Holy Spirit cannot be measured. But I understand the point behind your question.

    It never fails that the weeks that seem the most “dead” to me are the weeks that people are often floored by the presence of the Spirit. It’s like we have an idea on how we think the Spirit wants to work, but we’re often wrong in the end. That’s the beauty of the faith.


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