Clare Bell is a worship leader from Wales, but she would rather call herself one who facilitates worship. “My heart is for team and for the congregation”, she says. Clare feels a call to pioneer congregation-led worship; worship orchestrated by the Holy Spirit in such a way that the whole congregation is aligned to what He is doing. Worship not led by one person, but led by a band, dancers, painters; the congregation, all in unity.
Clare sees her role as one who facilitates this; to see where God is moving and to gently encourage the people who will release the next song, rythm, or dance. The workshops on worship and prophetic song that she runs, are designed to encourage people to step into a greater level of freedom and boldness to encounter God in new ways.
“When we praise and worship, it’s important to realize we already are in God’s presence”, Clare says. “Through praise and worship we express our faith that God is present. Entangle yourself with Him and untangle yourself from things around you and you’ll be like an eagle soaring.”
Hunger for intimacy
Clare talks about how in church we are often so used to holding fast to our songs during corporate worship times on Sundays, but that it is actually meant to be much more than that. We should come to a time of worship intentionally with a hunger for intimacy with the Lord, a hunger to encounter Him in the spontaneous. “Imagine if you would go out on a date. You wouldn’t have your conversation written out. Yes, you make some plans, but there is also spontaneity in it. Worshiping God to me is in a sense like coming to a dinner date; some things are planned and then there is spontaneity.
We should come to a time of worship intentionally with a hunger for intimacy with the Lord, a hunger to encounter Him in the spontaneous.”
The mindset of praise and worship has to change from the idea of singing a song and finish it, to the idea of coming and knowing you will have an exchange moment with the Lord. Listen to what He is saying, listen to the sounds of heaven. That’s going to shift things. And be confident to sing it out. It could open up to deliverance or prayer time for people, or new songs. If you engage with heaven, so much can happen in that moment.”
In her own life, Clare experienced this kind of corporate worship various times. “One time at the end of a conference, I led worship. I had no songs and didn’t know what to do. I actually was nervous and the team prayed for me. I started playing some chords and then everyone just started singing their own song, it all blended in perfectly. The Lord orchestrated it. It was the first time I experienced leading worship like that.
Another moment was during a leaders conference with Ray Hughes in one of the southern states of the US. There were 60 leaders from all over the country. I started singing a spontaneous song and everyone spontaneously joined in. It was as if God revealed it to everyone at the same moment.”
Learn to step out
So how can we practically learn to step out in that? Clare: “Churches often use the hymn sandwich model where they sing a hymn, then play some chords and after that go to the next hymn. I think we need to get away from our reliance on songs and work on being comfortable in the spontaneous.
What you could do to step out in this, is: try to pick one song that is about praising God and sing it until people get into a place of awareness of God’s presence. Write down different chord progressions in advance that you could play after the song. When you play one of these chord progressions, wait on the Lord and open up your spiritual senses. See if a Scripture or a picture comes to mind. Then expand in the fullness of what it is. It doesn’t always have to be a song, it can also be a sound. For example, if I’d hear the sound of water in my spirit, I could make that sound of water with the piano.”
God has given you the keys of the kingdom, take time to see what He wants to release through you.”
“Sometimes God might give you a song and every line might be different or it might just be one sentence. Repeat it until you are emerging yourself into it”, Clare advises. “Don’t rush off to the next thing. Stay in that moment. Practice it first in your own time. Then practice with a few people.
Another thing that can happen is that God might lead you into intercession and give you heavenly strategies. He might give you blueprints of His plans for your town for example. There is so much that can happen, it is so powerful when we worship. God has given you the keys of the kingdom, take time to see what He wants to release through you.”
The album ‘Marker’ that Clare recently brought out, is a reflection of her own spiritual journey to worship more freely, but it helps others as well to make the transition from singing songs to freely flow with the Holy Spirit.
“My album was birthed out of that it felt so dead to worship out of a song that was already written. In the Bible it says: ‘Sing to the Lord a new song’ and that’s what I started doing. That’s how the songs on my album were created. At the end of each song there is an instrumental part where you can just take time with the Lord and go deeper with Him.”
“There is a gap between people who sing songs in church and people who flow freely”, Clare concludes. “I want to help people bridge that gap. So that they can learn to enter a place of listening to the Lord and hear from Him themselves.”
For more info about the ministry of Clare, visit her website.
Watch the video below to hear her share more about the album ‘Marker’: