Thoughts on Freedom in Worship

Wilco Live

I had a great conversation on Friday with a friend and incredible musician, Randy Floyd last week.  We were talking about learning to be more open and free and expressive in Worship.

It reminded me of when I went to see Wilco play at the Austin City Limits Music Festival a few years ago.

They are amazing amazing musicians and Jeff Tweedy just rocks.  Anyway – at one point, with like, I don’t know, 80,000 people watching him, he starts clapping and invites the audience to participate.  Most of the people in the front start clapping and  having  a great time, and most of the people in themiddle and back of the crowd just kind of stand there.  I, apparently being the hipster that I’ve been told I am, do not clap.

And then he says ‘If you can’t clap – You’re not FREE!‘.


As soon as he said it I knew he was totally right.

I told myself I wasn’t clapping because I just didn’t want to, but, if I was honest with myself, I knew it was because I was too self-conscious.  I didn’t want to be seen as too eager to get involved and like the music (actually liking something is Very uncool in hipster culture)…so I just convinced myself I didn’t want to clap.

But the truth is, we all long to be Free.

Have you ever seen kids dance before?  They’re AWESOME!

They’re not self-conscious at all.  They just move their bodies and do what feels good.  It’s inspiring and uplifting just to watch them.  They don’t know what they’re doing – they’re just FREE and it shows.


When it comes to our stage presence as worship leaders and band members, I think we want to have that same Freedom.  We want to show a Joy and Freedom that we have found in Christ, and to invite others to lay aside their self-conscious worries and just be Free with us.  When you know you are loved by the God that created the whole freaking universe…then another person judging you for clapping hands just isn’t as big of a deal…we can get over ourselves and be Free to be who God has made us to be.

BUT – and this is the hard part – to find that Freedom when we’re playing music…takes Practice.

If I don’t know my chords inside and out, and know the structure of the song (where were headed next, what dynamic level it will be)…if I don’t know what the beginning of Verse 2 is even if the slides are late, if I’m trying to remember where it was I was going to click on my distortion pedal, then I’m really not Free.  I know it.

I can feel it!

Not being prepared and trying to be Free is, for me, like trying to swim wearing a 3 pieces suit…you want to swim, but, you just keep getting dragged down by the clothes. They get water logged and you can feel them clinging to your body.

I know that you’ve experienced those songs where you are so well prepared that you can just BE.  You’re totally in the zone and flowing with what’s happening all around you…it’s an amazing experience…you can be free to focus on the words you’re singing in a new way, you can be free to experience and take in what God is doing in the room at that moment, and you can be free to share you Joy and Light with others.

My hope is that we can move towards having more and more of those moments of Joy and Freedom together…but…it takes Practice.

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