Fire and Form: Introductions

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Worship:   Polarities

INTRODUCTIONS—Fire, Form and Phifer

Welcome to Fire and Form—Spirit-led Worship. I am excited to share what I have discovered in more than forty years of worship study and practice. By way of introduction I will take the three key words in reverse order.


I have served the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ as worship leader, worship educator, musician and writer. Today, my ministry is one of worship renewal. I began in fulltime ministry in 1975, serving churches in several states as well as in denominational and university ministries. My study of worship began 1980 and has become the focus of my ministry. I hold bachelors and masters degrees in music education and a doctorate in worship studies. I have served as guest lecturer at colleges and seminaries across America and overseas.


Worship leaders operate in the dynamic center between opposite poles. The terms “Fire” and “Form” represent these polarities. Christianity was born in fire, but the Holy Spirit moves in form as well. Finding our place on the line between these and other polarities is one of the great challenges of the ministry of worship.

Form is essential to Christian worship. If you say that Spirit-led worship is about freedom, you are correct. But it is a freedom within scriptural limits and within the spiritual framework of the character of God and the ways of the Spirit. True worship is fire focused by a form.

None of us wants an empty form. We long for worship services where people are healed and delivered, sinners are saved, believers are filled with the Spirit, and the Word of God is proclaimed in power. Shouldn’t we, therefore, throw off all forms and let the Spirit have His way? We should certainly let the Spirit have His way, but the Bible reveals God to be a God of order and form. Before the Spirit moved upon the earth in creative power, the earth was “without form and void.” After the move of the Spirit, the earth came into order: day and night were organized, as were the lights in the sky, the sea and the dry land, as well as the life in the sea, on the land, and flying through the skies.

Creation tells us of an orderly and powerful Creator-God. He fashioned Adam from the earth, creating the human form. Then He breathed the breath of life into Adam and lit the fire known as the human spirit. Today as we worship, that human spirit within connects with the Spirit of God and we cry “Abba, Father!” God breathes life into us as we worship.


Wherever you may be reading this, the fire of the Spirit is available to you. It is not American, this fire, or Asian, or African, nor does it belong to any other race or culture of man. It is not Baptist, Pentecostal, Liturgical or Evangelical.

The fire of the Holy Spirit is the presence of the Lord.

    • As a star this fire guided the wise men and lit the Bethlehem skies with angels.
    •   It radiated from Jesus’ eyes to the eyes of fishermen and they forsook their nets to follow him.
    • This fire scorched the hypocrisy of the religious leaders and chased the money changers from the Temple.
    • The flame may have flickered before Pilate but was bright enough for a beaten, exhausted Jesus to declare His Kingdom to be greater than Pilate’s domain or even that of Caesar.
    • For a moment on the cross, the fiery eyes closed.
    • But a split-spirit-second later Jesus strode the streets of hell with a fire in his belly hotter than perdition’s flames. He wrested the keys of death, hell and the grave from Satan.
    • Like a holy torch, His holiness led captivity captive as he set the prisoners of faith free. In three days, the angel rolled the stone away to reveal an empty tomb.
    • When the women met Jesus, they soon felt the old fire again—He was alive!
    • The two believers on the Emmaus road felt the fire burning in their hearts as Jesus explained the Word to them.
    • The Disciples knew his fire again when they saw Him.
    • On the Day of Pentecost tongues of fire sat upon each of the one hundred and twenty, fires of cleansing and healing, the fires of the presence of Jesus.

New Covenant Worship

This is our New Covenant worship—the fires of Spirit within the forms of truth. And this, week by week, will be our subject.

Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer
Fire and Form 101

© 2016 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved

Fire and Form: Introductions

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