Underground Worship

Trevor Macpherson - Worldshakers Christian Growth Center

As I have visited many different Underground Ministries, I have noticed likewise a number of different styles of Underground worship emerging. Primarily it seems to depend on which key sub-culture they are reaching out to.

I have been to the Bridge in Portland where the worship is like being in a small nightclub. The atmosphere was dark and subdued, there is a full on band, heavy alternative music and half of the pierced and tattooed congregation were up aggressively dancing in worship.

I have sat in a park in Portland with a bunch of mainly retros, many with their dogs in tow, worshiping with a guitar and hand drums.

I have been part of the upstairs of a street church where it was dark, only lit by candles and sticks of incense and the music was heavy alternative/gothic and totally spontaneous. Communion was a key part and was taken while sitting in a circle on the floor.

I visited "The Final Notice" a YWAM street work in the basement of a building right on the main hangout street, strewn with couches and the house worship band, "The Metal Monks" were cranking out worship at ear bleeding decibels.

I have been in the Church on the Edge led by an older punk couple, who have a punk band (that her husband plays in) to reach out to the dudes in Huntington Beach, CA.

We had a woman who came to one of the Underground Ministries Roundtables who has been ordained by an Orthodox Church, as a "Minister to the Outcasts" and she goes among the outcasts performing marriages, giving communion and leading orthodox/gothic worship in the streets.

I have sat in the "Street Church" nicknamed the Hot Dog Church (because that is what they give out 7 nights a week) and listened while the Pastor cranked out lively Rockabilly worship and then opened the mike up for testimonies.

I have been in the dark, with Christian Industrial music being pumped through the church sound system and a strobe light is turned on and those who feel led go out into the center of the room and let the Holy Spirit lead the in Prophetic dance.

I was at Epicenter 2001 in Austin TX, where I set up a "Spirit led" art station that was to work in conjunction with the Spirit led "bass and drums" that a friend and I were doing down below in the poetry slam area. The next night I sat around an authentic Mexican food restaurant for hours, with 10 others, as we co-wrote the lyrics to a song that summed up what we had been learning at the Tribal Generation gathering. We then stayed up half the night writing the music and practicing it, for the worship session the next day, which followed a 4 wall video mosaic of the worship song "Light the Fire again" that I still can't get out of my mind. (Not that I'm trying to).

I have been crammed into the middle of a small tent, being totally surrounded by sea of people jumping up and down, as Mortal, in one of their last shows cranked out their form of industrial worship. Then I saw the lead singer challenge everyone in the tent with an "As for me and my house I will follow the Lord" declaration and then later watched as everyone got down on their knees in the dirt in dedication to the Lord.

I was there when the word was going through the crowd that even though Allan Aguire from the "Scattered Few" wasn't going to be able to play on one of the stages at Cornerstone, that he was going to play anyway over in someone's campsite. I followed a throng as we made our way over there to see what would happen. He had the reputation of being the bad boy of Christian music and although I wanted to see him, knew that if he started challenging the authority of the leadership of the festival, I would have to get up and leave. Instead, he plugged into the generator powered amp that someone had brought and lead the 100-200 people sitting and standing all around, in simple worship songs. It blew me away. Only after this and much prodding from the crowd did he play a stripped down version of some of his songs, which everyone there sang along with. One of the most beautiful being "As the story grows."

I have been in secular Industrial/Goth dance clubs doing prophetic dance warfare and have experienced some of my most amazing worship times. Which I was perplexed by, until a friend reminded me about Ps 23:5 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.

I was at the "Spirit of David: Worship and Warfare Conference", put on by Morningstar Ministries in Charlotte NC where on the last 2 songs of the third night something new in worship happened. Ray Hughes, a Pastor from Nashville, got up and gave a Biblical understanding of what was taking place. He said that the music that was happening was referred to in Eph. 5:19 and Col. 3:16 as a "Spiritual song" or in the Greek "Ode Pneumatikos" which he said is defined as an "unrehearsed, spontaneous, Spirit-inspired song". Then on that last night of this conference, they started one song that lasted for three hours. During it, the musicians and vocalists swooped and soared as they were being led by the Holy Spirit. It was amazing! Declarative and prophetic words were also being spoken out and people around us were being ministered to by the Lord. Deliverance was taking place and I wouldn't be surprised to find out that some people were even healed. At the end of it all, a small cloud of smoke formed on the stage and lasted for about 15 seconds: as a sign from Him.

Since then, I have seen 'spiritual songs' springing up all over the place. Bands like Kevin Prosch and the Peppercorns often do 'spiritual songs' for half of their performances. Now younger, more alternative bands that have been influenced by these bands are also moving out into this new territory.

Spirit led Spontaneous Worship

What we are beginning to see is a worship band where each individual hears spontaneously from the Holy Spirit what to play and, because it is the same Holy Spirit, the music will blend perfectly. Then the congregation will, because of sensitivity to the Lord and unity, begin to spontaneously sing together the same prophetic song because they will each be hearing from the Holy Spirit what to sing.

The service will be a flow between these spontaneous songs and any known songs that the worship leader is hearing from the Spirit. Essentially, the whole worship time will be truly led by the HOLY SPIRIT. Basically, the new sound that is coming is: "the Holy Spirit in music". That is different from our music anointed by Him; it is us releasing music into His hands. And if the Holy Spirit is in the music, then the world won't be able to copy it.

I believe, in a little while, you will actually hear a non-Christian say to another, “you just have to come and hear this group, there is just something different about their music.” “What do you mean? I don't know; there is just something about it.”

Underground worship is popping up in a number of different forms and yet it does seem to have similar characteristics. Generally, it is more abandoned, spontaneous, honest, sincere and crying out for help and freedom.

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