Earlier this month, I wrote an article about “how to listen to preaching.” You can read that HERE if you would like. This week I am writing about how to worship in your church. This is tricky, of course, for at least two reasons. First, every church is different. Some are quiet and formal. Others are loud and boisterous. Some clap. Some “whoop and holler.” Others say occasional and quiet amens and some never say anything at all. So every church is different and that makes this article a bit tricky. Second, everyone has an opinion, usually based on their culture, upbringing, or education. So that makes this article a bit tricky as well.
Here are a few observations that have prompted me to write this series of articles. These observations are a result of 27 years of serving multiple church congregations in every part of the USA and in many parts of the world. Many in our congregations don’t sing and don’t participate in any way at all. Many never respond and never include their “heart” in their worship. We do tend to be “takers” instead of “givers” in our generation. We observe and evaluate rather than give and serve. So, is there a right way to worship? I think so. At least consider these thoughts and let me know what you think!
- It is important to be “all in” when it comes to our service to God. Moses and Jesus both told us that we should “love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength.” This includes our life but it also includes our worship. “Sing unto the Lord” is a vital part of our love and service to our God. “Serve Him with gladness” is too (Psalm 100). When we attend a worship service, we have an opportunity to love our God and to show it! Are you “all in” when it comes to living for God? When it comes to worshipping God? Are you engaged? Are you alert? These are good questions and all of us should seriously evaluate ourselves and make changes if necessary.
- It is important to sing. Our culture somehow struggles in this area. Former cultures would sing at home and sing while they worked and sing at family reunions and sing at every church service. As a boy growing up on a small farm in the country, I would often hear my mom singing as she worked. I remember attending prayer meetings at our neighbors home and there would always be singing. And churches would be filled with the sound of the entire congregation singing. It may be that technology has damaged us here. We now tend to put great singers on our platforms (and in our headphones) and then amplify them and encourage them to perform. Our modern buildings lack the acoustics of older ones. As a result, in many congregations the music is now a spectator sport! Such things should not be! Singing in worship is one of the main ways we love God. It requires our entire being — our heart, our soul, our mind, and our strength. Andy Crouch says that “ when we sing in worship, our minds are engaged with the text and what it says about us and God, our hearts are moved and express a range of emotions, our bodily strength is required, and —if we sing with “soul” — we reach down into the depths of our being to do justice to the joy and heartbreak of human life” (The Tech-Wise Family, p. 191). Simply put, it is important to sing.
- It is also important to get to know my brothers and sisters. Hebrews 10:24 challenges us “to consider one another to provoke [one another] to love and good works.” As a church we are a body. We are to love each other. We are to get to know each other. We are to provoke each other. This is all part of our worship service. How often do we attend, listen, smile, wave, and go about our own business? We should, instead, be aware of each other and pray together and encourage each other — every time we attend worship. Don’t allow yourself to simply fall into the habit of just attending and sitting. Worship is far more than that.
- It is important to just participate. Carry your Bible. Open your hymnal. Learn the songs on the screen. Raise your hands in worship (that is Biblical and acceptable). Consider clapping (that is actually Biblical too, not applause of talent or personality, but joyful expressions of worship). Pray when it is time for prayer — and kneel if you want! Sing loudly and joyfully. Teach your family to do the same! Just participate!
What do you think? Am I right? Is there anything you would add? I would love to hear from you in the comments.
As always, thanks for reading.
Your sincere friend,