Church services

BEING USED BY GOD ON SUNDAY MORNING

If you attend church regularly, you probably would like to see God use you in fruitful ways that bless your church.

In an article entitled, “How Members Can Serve the Church on Sunday Morning”,  the 9Marks website shares these ways that ordinary church members can serve their church on Sunday. Prayerfully give one or more of these a try and see what God does.

Before the Service

Read the passage in advance

Pray for the gathering

Greet newcomers (act like you are the host)

Think strategically about who you should sit with

Arrive early

 During the Service

Sing with gusto (even if you can’t sing)

Help with logistics (if there’s a problem, help fix it)

Don’t be distracted

Listen carefully

After the Service

Connect newcomers with others

Get newcomers information

Start a conversation about the sermon

Ask someone how they became a Christian

Stay late

CHURCH SERVICES SHOULD REFLECT GOD’S SENSIBILITIES

One of my concerns with the church in America over the past generation is that the focus in the main worship service is often on reaching unbelievers.

Certainly we want to be as committed to reaching people as Jesus!

But we should not lose sight of the purpose for the gathering of God’s people, which is the ministry of the means of grace God has given to the church. This involves the ministry of the Word, prayer and the ordinances of communion and baptism.

None of this excludes reaching out to unbelievers; in fact a healthy church will be drenched with gospel clarity. My concern is when the church shapes itself according to the sensibilities of those who don’t actually care about God. The result can be churches that are shallow.

A worship service is meant to exalt God; we are not doing a good job of that if we have to minimize biblical priorities so unbelievers will not be offended.

This can easily lead to confusing people about gospel-living rather than leading them into it.

Jared Wilson lays this out in a much more coherent way that I do in this article, “Is Your Worship Service Upside Down?”  

The purpose is not to attack churches, but to have us become more thoughtful of what the church is meant to be. At the same time we will be able to think more clearly about our own role in the church and our expectations for it.

WHAT THOUGHTS DO YOU BRING TO CHURCH?

 

What are the thoughts that you bring to Church?

Or, what types of thoughts arise during the worship services you attend?

As a pastor, I have needed to face this question.

I might be distracted by how something is being handled, or disappointed in how a part of the service turned out (especially my preaching). At times I can find myself worrying about what the people around me are thinking about the service.

To be honest, it has helped me to have the pastors sitting in the congregation rather than on the platform as we used to do. We didn’t make the change for this reason, but it has helped me stay focused on my role as a worshipper in the service. This is also one of the reasons I always like to sit near the front in any church service.

We cannot stop thoughts from coming to us as we listen to and observe what is taking. And some of these thoughts will contain criticisms. How we handle these thoughts of criticism is important for a few reasons:

So we are not distracted from the worship God deserves from us

So we don’t quench what the Holy Spirit wants to do in us during and after the service

So we don’t develop the pattern of being critical, or to let a critical spirit gain a toehold in our heart

So our attention is not distracted from how the Holy Spirit would use us in the lives of others

So we don’t bring a negative mood into the service however unknowing or unintentional it may be

Jason Helopoulos gives us a couple practical steps in this article he wrote for the Together for the Gospel website entitled “The Sunday Worship Killer”. Jason writes:

“In all honesty, very few of us knowingly enter church with such a motivation. How silly it would be for us to rise early on Sundays to play the role of the critic. But as we take our seat in the church pew, our focus and motivation cowers to the voice crying out within, “they are not doing this right,” “they are not doing this well,” “they are not doing this as I would do it.” And in the midst of it all, we move from worshipper to critic.”

The gathering of the local church for worship, fellowship, ministry of the Word and the Lord’s Supper are wonderful gifts and purposes of God to us.

May we use each experience we have with these gifts well, for ourselves and for one another!

 

WHEN WORSHIP CAUSES TROUBLE

We were made for worship

Worship is  a practice that will fill our hearts throughout eternity. Worship is an immense help to our having the right perspective today. Worship lifts, soothes and encourages our hearts. Worship is a joyful activity.

. . And worship causes trouble

The trouble comes when we are in a worship experience that is different from our expectations and our preferences. Vaughan Roberts describes this problem in his book True Worship:

“If I identify an experience with a genuine encounter with God, and only a certain kind of music gives me that experience, then it will be very important to me that that kind of music is played regularly in my church . . . That will cause no problems if everyone shares my tastes. But if others feel they need different kinds of music, there is bound to be trouble.”

Worship is for God

Worship is meant to bless us, but preeminently worship is for God. As a church walks through how it will shape worship in public services, it is this God focus that must dominate the conversation.

Songs are to be selected by what is God honoring, which means the songs must point us to Him rather than affirm ourselves.

What songs sound like should help to draw us in, but this means all of us, not just a particular generation or in some cases, not a particular ethnic group.

Public worship is to be the gathering of God’s people in harmonious exaltation of our God. Musical worship in a church service should always bring the worshippers into a closer bond with each other. For as Ephesians 4:4-6 tells us:

“There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call— one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all”

One of the goals we have for public worship at Greentree is for every generation to hear their own voice. We want to celebrate the involvement of writers and music styles that reflect all the generations present. This is because the church is meant to care for all the generations present.

What does this mean for us?

As long as the songs we sing are God and gospel-centered, our worship should not be affected by music style or song selection. Obviously we will enjoy some songs more than others. But our enjoyment is not the purpose of worship – is it?

Worship should always be a great experience, because true worship is always pointed at our great God.