Last week, I found myself Googling: “What is FOPx Worship Night?”
Some quick research and one promotional video later, I came to this conclusion: A youth-focused, open-air, outdoor worship event.
Not exactly my cup of tea.
Although I’d never attended any previous instalments of the youth edition of Festival of Praise (FOP), I’d been asked to join the ad hoc media team because of my involvement in media in my own church.
I mentally prepared myself to take the leap out of my comfort zone, picturing one hyper-charged, laser-show worship set on the grounds of St Andrew’s Cathedral, where it would be held – all whilst swarmed with youths half my age.
But on that rainy evening of July 1, 2018, I found myself surrounded by over 2,000 young lives freely worshipping the God they love and proclaiming His word over the nation.
It was clear to see that these young ones – most of whom were not even over the age of 20 – were on fire for Jesus. For someone nearing her thirties, this deeply resonated within me, allowing me to revisit the passion and simple faith I once had as a teenager.
Back then, mine was a faith that whispered a prayer after every failed exam and impossible deadline. A faith that pleaded with God to take the pain from every heartache; that grew increasingly convinced that a life lived for Him was the only one that mattered.
Time will pass and like us, these young people will progress into their next stages of life, where the same challenges will continue to pose themselves in different forms: Career decisions, conflict in relationships, issues of self-doubt, self-worth, significance … And questions with no answers.
But the source of our strength, comfort, and reason will always remain the same. It isn’t about an amazing worship service, a favourite song, or even a special place.
It is the pure desire to encounter His presence and be touched by His love – over and over again – that will unite the hearts of all ages and denominations, to come together as one in Christ. And with this posture of surrender, we give others a glimpse of what Heaven will be like.
Looking back, my first FOPx Worship Night was a breath of fresh air that put the meaning of “church”, “worship”, and “life” into proper context.
Sometimes church can become a holy club of sorts, complete with spiritual jargon, such that those who need to come in and encounter Him just don’t. Instead, they stay right out of it.
But FOPx Worship Night turned that around, becoming a church without doors, where worship was accessible to all – even those on the streets. It was both a safe and sacred space to worship, but also an open invitation to our friends on the other side of the fence.
And that should be how we lead our lives – exclusive enough to hear His still small voice; inclusive enough for those who’ve yet to know Him to draw near.