After getting the chance to experience the Asbury Outpouring firsthand, I know that I'll be forever changed. It was truly a transformative experience. As a college ministry worker, I'm proud to say that our ministry is one of the partner organizations for the Collegiate Day of Prayer.
The team had been planning months ahead to host the annual simulcast prayer event at Asbury University on February 23, 2023. But some unexpected developments occurred at Asbury a few weeks before the event. Despite this, I was fortunate enough to join the ministry trip. God's timing is terrific.
As someone who's been discipling the next generation of believers, praying for revival and awakening on college campuses for years, and teaching students to do the same, it was surreal to witness a glimpse of God's answer to our prayers with my own eyes.
But I was also marked by the culture of how the Asbury students and leadership stewarded this move of God. My time at Asbury profoundly impacted me, particularly emphasizing simplicity, humility, and reverence for God. I was struck by the focus on holiness and God's gentle yet potent presence among His people.
Worship Is About Ministry To Jesus
Many characteristics marked this move of God: confession of sin and repentance, testimonies, exhortation from Scripture, the prayer ministry at the altar, preaching the gospel, and people giving their lives to Jesus. But I think it's interesting that when God started moving at Asbury, what resulted was day-and-night worship.
Student-led worship teams led the gathering times. And student-led worship teams kept worship going for two weeks, even when the auditorium was empty, and no public service was happening. It reminds me of the worship around God's throne in heaven in Revelation 4-5 and the system of Israel's worship at the Tabernacle of David described in 1 and 2 Chronicles. This stood out to me for several reasons.
As a music fan, I enjoy writing about different styles of music. I’m also a devoted worship leader and songwriter who attends a church that has held day-and-night worship and prayer services for decades. Worship is a value close to my heart. So often, we approach worship with the mentality of "how will this minister to me," "what did I get out of worship," or "I enjoyed/didn't enjoy worship today."
As the renowned contemporary Christian artist Matt Redman sings in his famous worship song, "The Heart of Worship," I believe the Lord invites us to rediscover the heart of worship. I heard the leaders at Asbury say it several times: "We're here to minister to the Lord."
Worship is first about ministering to the Lord. It's about meditating on who He is, honoring and praising His name, expressing our love, and bringing Him an offering that pleases His heart. Then as an overflow of that, when we spend time in God's presence, He responds by ministering to our hearts and lives, and He loves to do that. The Bible teaches that. It's not wrong to desire that, ask for it, or be grateful for it. It happened every day at the Asbury Outpouring gatherings, and we see it happen every week in our church gatherings and Christian concerts and conferences we attend.
But we must keep our priorities in worship in order. Worshipping Jesus is an end in and of itself. Do you worship Jesus foremost for the sake of beholding His beauty—His attributes and character—and responding to Him with songs of praise and love because He's worthy, as we see modeled by David in Psalm 27? And do you worship Jesus for life-changing encounters in His presence?
Purity of Heart and Simplicity
At Asbury, there weren't big-name speakers and worship leaders on stage. You needed to learn the students’ names leading worship or the Asbury leadership speaking. They carried a culture of being "nameless and faceless." Everything is about Jesus and His work in people.
The services were simple, with no big production. Yet, I've never experienced a passion for worshiping and hunger for God in people like I did those nights in Hughes Auditorium. God moved and powerfully changed people's lives amid humility and simplicity. It made me think a lot.
For one—especially for worship singers, musicians, or Christian artists—it's helpful to remember that we don't sing and play to put on a show for people. We do it to adore Jesus and lead others in doing the same, so He can minister to people through us the way He wants to.
I'm not suggesting that God never wants people to know our names or never wants us to complement each other. Showing honor, appreciation, and gratitude to other believers and encouraging them is biblical, and when we steward the compliments we receive, it doesn't challenge His glory. It honors Him when we value His work in and through one another and use our gifts to build others up in the faith the way Scripture says we should. Refer to Ephesians 4 and 1 Corinthians 12.
Instead, I think God wants us to remember that our ultimate goal with the gifts, leadership, and platform He's entrusted to us is to point people to Him, so they are captivated and not just by us.
I believe He's teaching us to be humble and reverent as we minister, to be confident in whom He's called us to be and what He's called us to do, and to boldly celebrate the work He does in others through us, and that those things don't have to be in tension if we'll let His Spirit lead us in walking them out. Refer to Romans 15:15-19.
As an artist and Christian music fan, I value production, stage design, musical creativity, stage presence, connecting with people while ministering, and being fun and entertaining. You probably do, too. Those things are all right.
I believe these skills, tools, and gifts come from God and are used by Him for His glory and to minister to people. If we're singing about Jesus and the truth of His Word and how He's changed our lives, that should be the most fun, entertaining experience.
But what I took away from visiting Asbury was the reminder that God can move through simplicity and production. His Spirit is there and at work when a few students gather for acoustic worship in a chapel, whether for house worship at a small group or at a Christian concert on an arena stage with all the fancy staging and lights. Whatever the package, humility, and hunger for God are key. When those are present, God draws near, and His presence changes everything.
NRT contributor Jasmin Patterson is a lifelong fan of Christian music who is passionate about helping others connect with Christ. She lives in Kansas City where she serves in college ministry and runs a blog to help seekers and believers discover and live biblical Christianity.
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