Holy Spirit, come flood this place and fill the atmosphere
Arguably, the default expectation of contemporary evangelical worshipers is that the Holy Spirit works in worship in such a way so as to create an extraordinary experience, well expressed in the popular worship song by Bryan and Katie Torwalt:
Holy spirit, You are welcome here
Come flood this place and fill the atmosphere
Your glory, God, is what our hearts long for
To be overcome by Your presence, Lord1
Many theologians and authors who have helped to shape contemporary evangelical worship embody a theology of the Holy Spirit’s primary work as that of making God’s presence known. For example, Wayne Gruden argues, “The work of the Holy Spirit is to manifest the active presence of God in the world, and especially the church. . . . It seems that one of his primary purposes in the new covenant age,” Grudem continues, “is to manifest the presence of God, to give indications that make the presence of God known. . . . To be in the Holy Spirit is really to be in an atmosphere of God’s manifested presence.”2 Zac Hicks agrees: “The Holy Spirit has an agenda in manifesting his presence to us.”3 Bob Kauflin believes that “there are times, of course, when we become unexpectedly aware of the Lord’s presence in an intense way. A sudden wave of peace comes over us. An irrepressible joy rises up from the depths of our soul.”4 “None of us,” Kauflin insists, “should be satisfied with our present experience of the Spirit’s presence and power.”5
Where does this common expectation of the Holy Spirit’s work in worship come from? That’s our focus next week.
About Scott Aniol
Scott Aniol is the founder and Executive Director of Religious Affections Ministries. He is director of doctoral worship studies at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, where he teaches courses in ministry, worship, hymnology, aesthetics, culture, and philosophy. He is the author of Worship in Song: A Biblical Approach to Music and Worship, Sound Worship: A Guide to Making Musical Choices in a Noisy World, and By the Waters of Babylon: Worship in a Post-Christian Culture, and speaks around the country in churches and conferences. He is an elder in his church in Fort Worth, TX where he resides with his wife and four children. Views posted here are his own and not necessarily those of his employer.
- Bryan Torwalt and Katie Torwalt, “Holy Spirit,” 2011, accessed October 31, 2018, https://songselect.ccli.com/Songs/6087919/holy-spirit. This is a CCLI Top 10 song. [↩]
- Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1995), 634, 641, 648. [↩]
- Zac M. Hicks, The Worship Pastor: A Call to Ministry for Worship Leaders and Teams (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2016), 33. [↩]
- Bob Kauflin, True Worshipers: Seeking What Matters to God (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 2015), 133. [↩]
- Bob Kauflin, Worship Matters: Leading Others to Encounter the Greatness of God (Wheaton: Crossway Books, 2008), 84–85. [↩]