I love so many of the newer worship songs that speak of the missional Church. They connect our lives in the meetings to our lives in the streets. They connect the love of God to the love of our neighbour. They inspire me.

Consider these lyrics from three contemporary songs:
“Heal my heart and make it clean/ open up my eyes to the things unseen/ show me how to love like you/ have loved me/ Break my heart for what breaks yours/ Everything I am for Your kingdom’s cause/ as I walk from earth into eternity”.

“Many are asking, ‘who can show us something real?’/ longing for hope within the pain of what they feel/ so I will go down on my knees and pray/ shine your light on us that all may see you goodness/ shine your light on us that all may see your glory”.

“So let justice flow/ like and endless stream/ flowing from your heart/ to the poor and weak/ let the things I do/ and the words I speak/ reveal the awesome love/ that You have shown to me”

Fantastic! My heart get excited all over again when I read these lyrics. They point to the emergence of a relevant Church. A Church that wants to make a difference on earth and not simply “fly away, oh glory”. But… is that really why I like them?

A few years ago, many worship songs were pushing the ideal of “revival”. In the light of exciting developments in Toronto and Brownsville (among other places), worship leaders in Charismatic congregations around the world became obsessed. Even in my own ministry, the subtle shift from worship meetings as times when we brought offerings of praise to God to times when we waited for God to “zap” us was discernable. The worship lost the cross as it’s centre, and the Spirit left the proverbial building. It was a while before we even realised what had happened to us, and how much we had cheated ourselves and God out of.

Why did we love revival-oriented worship so much? Why does my heart respond so much to this newer mission-oriented worship? I’m not sure, but perhaps the answer lies in the nature of the true foundation of worship – Jesus’ blood. When we approach the cross, we are approaching our own powerlessness and God’s awesome, terrible glory. We cannot approach the cross as devotees to a cause, or spiritual people waiting patiently for a fresh move of God. We have to approach God like the man whom Jesus identified as “the one who will leave justified”, who comes before God weak with fear and trembling and hungry for mercy. As much as we love the cross and the blood, we hate to be reminded of how we got there in the first place.

And yet the cross is what we need. What we will always need.

I’m not saying these new songs are “bad”. On the contrary, they are simple expressions of what God is already doing in the Church today. But let’s not make the same mistake twice. Let’s not make an idol of this new move of God. Let’s keep our focus where it belongs – on the grace of God revealed in the blood-stained cross.