Hearing God's Invitation

Song: "Come, Now Is the Time to Worship"


Previously published in Pulpit Helps, December 2007.

"But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship Him" (John 4:23).

The subject for this story is one of only three worship songs presently on the Christian Copyright Licensing International's (CCLI), "Top 25 Songs" list in six of the seven countries where the list is published: United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa. It was written by a talented Canadian songwriter, who has a heart for God and his family.

Brian Doerksen was born into a very musical home in Abbotsford, just outside of Vancouver, British Columbia. His father, Harry Doerksen, sang in the Ambassadors Quartet, a Gospel group which traveled in that area. He, his brother, and his mother, Agnes, would often go with Mr. Doerksen and sit in the back listening to the singing. "Consequently," Brian told me, "I have been interested in music as long as I can remember. I started piano lessons as a child, but as soon as I was old enough to make my own decision, regretfully, I quit."

"I grew up in a Christian home, and it wasn't as if I didn't know the truth of the Gospel-I just didn't want to live it. But when I was 15 years of age, probably as a result of my parent's prayers, I had one of those sovereign encounters with God. One night in my bedroom, in the home from which I'm now speaking to you, the presence of God came into the room and I was convicted of my sin. I heard the Lord saying, Give me your whole life to serve me. And I said, Yes.' Shortly afterward people around me noticed an incredible difference. My dreams and plans that were going in one direction, changed courses. I began to have a heart for serving God."

"God really called me into a ministry to serve Him. I had previously poured myself into athletics, becoming a star basketball player, but almost overnight my interest in sports was gone and in its place was this incredible hunger to serve God through music. I began learning to play the guitar. I played for hours each day, and started worshiping God in my room."

"Shortly afterward I formed a little Christian music group and tried to write songs for us, but soon gave that up. It was not until I was the full-time music pastor at Langley Vineyard Christian Fellowship, in British Columbia, that I began to write songs once more. I was using songs from other sources, but became convinced that we needed something else, other expressions to worship God."

One of the first songs that Brian wrote, "Faithful One," has become so popular that it is always on the CCLI "Top 25 Songs" list in Canada and the United Kingdom. I then asked Brian to give me the details surrounding the writing of his most famous song, "Come, Now Is the Time to Worship." Tighten your seat belt!

"Emotionally and spiritually the song came at the end of the darkest and lowest season of my life, the summer of 1997. We had tried a major ministry project that had failed. A group working with me, and I, lost over one million dollars. I lost our home."

"I moved to England and became the worship pastor of Southwest London Vineyard, meeting in the Elliot School. I had no other place to live and no job offers. I felt as if I was barely hanging on to my faith in God. We were severely tested both with our losses and with finding out that three of our six children had a condition called Fragile X Syndrome, a form of mental retardation."

"One morning, within months of moving to London, I went for a exercise/prayer walk, as I often did. I walked just to clear my head, to pray, to give my day to God, and to pour out some of my pain and my dreams. As I was walking through southwest London, very close to Wimbledon Stadium, I heard this line as clear as a bell, floating through the air, Come, now is the time to worship...' I thought, WOW!, the call of worship is being sounded all of the time and in all kinds of ways.' God is reaching out to us as His creation, inviting us to come to do the very thing we were created to do. I was sweating, and walking, and singing that line over and over again, just sensing the nearness and the presence of God."

"When I got home I ran upstairs-I think the kids were getting ready for school and for breakfast. I sat down at the piano and found the key of the song I had just heard and began playing it over and over again, trying to unlock, What is this song? What is this call that is going on?' I took a pad and began to write down everything I could think of concerning a call to worship. How is He inviting us? Is He saying, Come, just as you are, come to me?' Suddenly I realized that I was in my own dark time, and that His call to worship doesn't just come to those who have it all together, that have no doubts, that have no darkness or hard experiences, but it comes to all of us, across the board."

"The song became like wings to lift me up from those shadows that had almost engulfed me. It was my private song for several days. I spent time writing and rewriting it. I made sure of every word. I tried it out on my wife. I then brought it to my church. Within weeks of teaching it to our congregation I began hearing reports of other churches singing it. Within months reports came of the song being sung in other countries. People who had connections with the Vineyard Churches, passing through London, were carrying it to other churches. I soon heard that it was being sung in South Africa." 

"Four or five months later we recorded an album of songs titled, Come, Now Is the Time. All over the world, as people heard the song, they, for some reason were calling it Winds of Worship.' Requests began to pour in asking permission to record "Come, Now Is the Time to Worship." Soon after that we moved back home to Canada, to the house I was raised in. We were able to purchase it from my parents."

Brian now produces recordings, teaches a songwriting course at Columbia Bible College in Abbotsford, and leads the worship team in the church where his family attends. He also directs workshops on worship leadership and songwriting. When his other responsibilities allow it, he appears in some of the great worship gatherings in other countries, with other leading songwriters and worship leaders also participating.

 Life is better now in Abbotsford for Brian, his wife, Joyce, and their children, ages 5 to 16. At the time of this writing, Brian has just finished a new album of songs and had the joy of having one of his daughters play an instrument on the project. 

Oh, that you and I were constantly in the mental and spiritual state that we, too, could hear God's invitation, "Come, now is the time to worship."

© Lindsay Terry. Used by permission.

Lindsay Terry has been a song historian for more than 40 years, and has written widely on the background of great hymns and worship songs including the books I Could Sing of Your Love Forever (2008) and The Sacrifice of Praise (2002).

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