If you're ancient like me (post 30 now...), you might start getting sentimental about what God has done in the past. I look back with great fondness at the mad years in the early to mid 1990's, when the so called 'Toronto Blessing' rocked my little Swedish corner of the world. Looking back, I can see that God was doing something in the Church, and many people I meet who are my age will trace their calling and passion for Jesus back to those years, when they met Christ in tangible ways, through the Holy Spirit, and often during sung worship.

I've heard other people talk passionately of how they too have been changed and shaped by God's movements in other times: There are those, a couple of decades older than me, whose lives were turned around by the Charismatic renewal of the 1970's; there are those a few years older who were part of the first wave of alternative worship - doing something new in their meeting with God. Then there are those a generation below me who have been transformed by the worship they experienced through Soul Survivor. These are, of course, my friends from a fairly narrow strip of Evangelical Charismatic Western Europe, and you can probably tell me about other life-changing moves of God (please do!).

A while back I started wondering about the times we are in now, what will we see that God was doing when we look back in 10 years time? What are the great moves of God that are happening right now; changing, calling and transforming people today?

So, I asked some friends who are involved in worship in various capacities to feedback the things they feel God is highlighting for our worship right now. I admit that this is only a handful of people, representing a small variety of different denominations and approaches. So, I'd love to hear from you too - what do you think is going on right now? Comment below!
The common stream that my friends write about is the shift from inward-looking to outward-looking - it may be painful, hard work and difficult in many churches, but God seems to genuinely be moving Christians' eyes away from themselves.
Outward-looking churches can have different emphasis and styles. One stream is the rising awareness of issues to do with justice - all of a sudden Isaiah 58 and Amos 5 seem to be speaking into our situation. Perhaps worship wasn't supposed to be all about the songs and the fancy new building, perhaps it had to do with our hearts, and how we relate to other humans and the world around us? Sunil Chandy, sound artist and bassist, states: 'I think that God has awakened the sense of his justice.'
Another angle is a new understanding of what might be called 'prophetic worship' - the sense that prophesy isn't just about individuals getting specific messages about God's love for them personally. Maybe we could be more like the Old Testament prophets; living distinctively and prophetically in society, letting our just actions speak of God and allowing this kind of prophetic edge into our corporate worship and our mission. Steve Moody, senior minister at Stopsley Baptist Church, says of this way of exercising our faith:
'It calls us to lament the way things are and provide a way of hope for a future which is not yet fully realised.'
There seems to be a new understanding that worship and prayer cannot be divorced from mission. Could it be true that mission - living and working to see societies and people transformed by God - can actually be our worship? And could worship - bringing God glory by shouting about his goodness, seeking him and living in obedience to him - actually be our mission?
AdAM PaRKeS, Music and Worship Pastor in Tunbridge Wells believes 'that there is a move of the Holy Spirit in uniting God's people across denominations and church structures and boundaries, and predominantly in the area of sung worship and prayer combined with an outward missional focus and with a prophetic edge.'
Richard Lyall, an electronic artist involved in the growing prayer movement in the UK,, writes about a new wave of prayer communities, and says:
'There seems to be a breaking down of the wall between prayer and worship, and mission - most of the prayer movements at the leading edge of what's going on seem to have an equal passion to pursue the presence of God for its own sake in worship and prayer, and also to be agents of transformation in their neighbourhood, cities, regions and nations.'
You're the God of this city, you're the King of these people, you're the Lord of this nation - you are. Steve writes about the excitement of singing these words by Chris Tomlin over his town of Luton. The song is a far cry from the wave of songs a couple of decades ago which were all about snuggling in the arms of Jesus. And then there are songs like God of justice by Tim Hughes, Shout the News by Geraldine Latty and the engage favourite When our songs by Matt Osgood. Have you noticed a change in emphasis in worship song lyrics too?
When thinking about our gathered times of worship, my friends are getting excited about the broadening of what we think of as corporate worship. It more and more often involves use of other art forms than singing, or new electronic tools that has never been used before. Jo Squires, director of BIG Ministries, is noticing that more churches are realising that standing up and singing choruses for 40 minutes isn't the only way to worship together, that churches increasingly understand worship to be inclusive, and have a readiness, as AdAM puts it: 'for God's voice to come from anywhere in the gathered congregation'.
Can moves of God's Spirit cause dissatisfaction, or is that our humanity speaking? Either way, there is a distinct voice of frustration coming from several corners of the Charismatic Evangelical world, which for decades now have been satisfied by middle-of-the-road soft-rock worship anthems. There was the article this year by Andy Walton in the April edition of Christianity, entitled 'Has Worship Music Lost Its Soul?'. In his article, Walton quotes several big names in the worship music industry, as saying that worship music has become boring, predictable and dissatisfying. Walton's answer to this problem seems to lie in increasing the styles of music used. Although this may be a worthy exercise, Andy Flannagan, worship leader and head of the Christian Socialist Movement, seems to get closer to where the problem genuinely lies, and is quoted in the article stating:
'Perhaps we've started following what sells the most, rather than always listening to what God is saying. We need to ask again - what is God's specific word for the Church at this specific time?'
Matt Osgood, until recently worship pastor at St Stephen's church, Twickenham, finds that;
'On the one hand, production of worship "events" is getting ever more slick. On the other hand, I personally recognise the futility of spending your entire ministry trying to create more entertaining and emotionally uplifting experiences for people who are already Christians. For me, the most exciting thing [in UK worship right now] was that last Sunday we had a bunch of non-Christians in our service who really sensed something of God's presence during the sung worship (though they didn't express it in those terms) - and that was despite our woefully under-rehearsed band playing through a cobbled together PA system.'
With many of us getting excited about worship becoming more outward looking and inclusive, one of the biggest challenges as we move forward is apathy. Jo has noticed that 'people in churches who lead worship or do stuff are tired, have run out of steam, don't have time and can't be bothered. It's sad to see and sad that we as the church have let it happen.'
There seems to be the need for a two-fold approach of, on one hand, pastoral care and nurture for burnt-out worship leaders, worn down from trying to create the slickest and most exciting worship experience in town. On the other hand, we need to encourage more people to play a part in corporate worship, with their particular gifts and styles.
There's the challenge to stir congregations to step up and play their part, enthusing them and, as AdAM says 'helping people to capture the vision and play their part in gatherings which are intentionally more participative and less front led.'
Will the church get involved in a move of God that doesn't necessarily give that immediate warm and fuzzy feeling? Will we step up to 'fight the good fight' and let our worship be a prophetic voice in society as we decide that delayed gratification is OK? Only time will tell.