Shamblin conducting the Overture of Christmas Concert '89

Unity is Not Always Unison

by Pastor Shamblin Stone


od has instructed us to come into unity as Christians in the way we think about, and trust, Him. This He calls “the unity of the faith” in Eph. 4:12. This is also confirmed in Phil 2:2 which says, “Fulfil ye my joy, that ye be likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind.”

However, thinking the same way about Jesus does not mean we all will respond the same way to Him in His presence, as we are worshiping Him.

Worship leaders who insist that a congregation must always express their corporate worship to God in a unified way are not being sensitive to their congregation’s need to personally respond to the Spirit of God in any given moment of worship.

God desires that, even in a corporate time of worship, there is time for us to worship Him as individuals. Now, it makes sense that if we feel prompted in worship to respond to Jesus in a particular way, that others in that gathering will also be feeling the nudge from the Holy Spirit to respond to Jesus in the same way. However, it also makes sense that God will be leading others in the gathering to respond to Him in a variety of ways within the unity of that moment.

This is seen when John got a glimpse of the worship going on in heaven in Revelation chapter 4. The four creatures were standing and singing “Holy, Holy, Holy...,” while the twenty four Elders were kneeling on their faces, and singing “Worthy is the Lamb...” All this was going on simultaneously. They were unified in their worship of Jesus, but they were not expressing that worship in unison.

This is what I call “Unity with Diversity.” We don’t all have to always corporately worship God the same way. Although, there is nothing wrong with worshiping God in unison, if that is what He is leading us to do at any given moment. Here is one more Biblical example of this.

2 Chron 20:18-19   And Jehoshaphat bowed his head with his face to the ground: and all Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem fell before the LORD, worshiping the LORD. And the Levites, of the children of the Kohathites, and of the children of the Korhites, stood up to praise the LORD God of Israel with a loud voice on high.

Here we find three distinctively different ways and postures for expressing worship being expressed simultaneously within a corporate gathering . By the way, this spontaneous outburst of worship came immediately after God spoke to them through “Jahaziel the son of Zechariah, the son of Benaiah, the son of Jeiel, the son of Mattaniah, a Levite of the sons of Asaph.”

I believe it is extremely important, as a worship leader, to allow people to respond in worship to a Word from God in whatever way God is leading them, and not dictate their response. God is the Master Orchestrator of our worship. What makes a symphony so interesting is when all the unique instruments play different things at the same time.