5 Lessons from the Third World

Whenever I set out to write something, I feel as if I have to be “perfect” or “relevant” or some other current word we use, but today I want be honest with you. I want to be real. How often are we actually honest as leaders? Every time I ask myself that question, I get the same answer, “not very.” You and I have to change this. We have to strive to move out of the way and “actually” present Christ for what He really is: Everything. 

I’ve compiled a list of things I’ve learned in the last year about worship. Most of these things are centered on two trips I took: one to Africa and one to Haiti. This list isn’t a list of sad things or a list about how robust you can make your worship band sound if you just buy that one really sweet and expensive piece of gear.

This list is: “Five Things I’ve Learned About Worship in Third World Countries.”

1. Move Out of the Way.

When did we start making our worship times about us? When did it become a show? When did it turn into only auditions and red tape? Now before I expound hear me out, all the production and lighting are great – they are NOT bad, they are just NOT the heart, so no hurt feelings okay? I really dig production as well, and it’s fine as long as Jesus is first.

So much we focus on the “vibe” and the right song that we miss God. If the anointing isn’t there, we have nothing; it’s all a waste. We must, as leaders, present Jesus for who he really is. Everything. Meaning we should lay it all down before going into leading a worship service and for once actually make it really, truly all about Jesus. 

2. Worship is Not Just the Time Between Announcements and the Sermon.

For so long, I really believed that worship was a four songs mid-service and two songs at the end, oh, and that they were directly about God. Worshipping God is everything, no matter how good or bad the day; our number one focus should be about Him and His sovereignty. No, we don’t always feel like worshipping, but think about this, you have air in your lungs, your heart is pumping blood, your kidneys are filtering tons of deadly poisons out of your blood. We have every reason to worship and not just those six songs on Sunday. Worship is our lives. Your shift at Starbucks, you job at an art gallery, washing cars, making sandwiches, etc. No more part-time worshipers! Let’s go for it constantly and always. Let everything that has breath…

3. We Must Not Worship Circumstantially.

We have so much in our country of plenty. I’m sitting on a jet airplane as I write this on my Apple device; most of us probably used the restroom this morning INSIDE our homes. When I was in these countries this past year, I saw people worshipping like crazy, and it changed me. Yes, their worship was bad and loud, but it wasn’t about that; it was about WHY they were worshipping. They have nothing; their every day is comprised completely of things you and I take for complete granted, yet I walked into a worship service in Uganda and saw them giving, singing, and shouting to Jesus. Why? Because they realize that our every breath is reason enough to worship our King.

4. We Were Made to Worship

Hosea 6:6 says, “I want you to show love not offer sacrifices. I want you to know me more than I want burnt offerings.”

The Israelites were messing up again, and as they began to repent, God says this – Crazy!

Through all our mess, God wants us to know him!? What a crazy thought. Brennan Manning says, “We were made for union with God.” It traces all the way back to the beginning, where we were designed to obey and worship Jesus. Everyone, not just leaders, not just the people in your church- but EVERYONE.

5. Worship Is Combat

There are so many scenarios in Scripture that show battles being won and people worshipping the Lord during combat. We are at war every day in our lives. It’s constant, and it’s real. There is a spiritual battle for our souls, and it’s time we begin to win. We saw people in Haiti and Africa this year proclaiming Jesus’ name regardless of the odds. Let’s stand up, rise up, and sing to Him even when things don’t feel good. It is what we were created to do.


As a dynamic, outspoken artist in the music scene, Aaron Gillespie isn’t always what one might expect to find in a faith-based performer, and such is the case with this project. Aaron’s strong musical history began at the young age of 14 as a standout drummer and co-founder of the popular metalcore band Underoath, which he left amicably in 2010. Aaron recently released his solo worship debut, Anthem Song, which was sparked by a trip in 2010 to Uganda with Compassion International. Following this trip, Gillespie retired his role as drummer for Underoath and began writing and recording for Anthem Song. He remains the frontman of the indie-rock band he founded, The Almost.

Follow Aaron on Twitter @AaronRGillespie as well as on his Facebook http://www.facebook.com/AaronRGillespie .