Worship Away From Church: An Encouragement to Members and Pastors

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We live in a week to week world, especially when it comes to the spiritual life. My guess is that the spiritual EKG of the average church member spikes once every 7 days. We receive a boost of spiritual life through meeting with the body of Christ only to descend from Monday onward. How can you as a church member become a better worshiper in between worship services, and how can pastors help you?

Church Members:

Attend weekend worship with a different attitude. This coming Sunday, worship with an eye towards how to worship. Here’s what I mean in a few bullet points:

  • Consider the structure of the service as a model for your own private worship. Most likely the service begins with a call to worship, a time to recognize God’s reality and to focus the congregation on him above all else. You then move through prayers and songs designed to prepare you to receive the Word of God, penetrate your heart, and lift you to Christ. God’s Word is preached and you are called to repent and trust in Jesus. Prayer at the end of the service confesses sin and asks God for strength and grace to persevere. Use that structure as a model for worshiping alone.
  • Model the prayers you hear at church. In your personal worship you should pray prayers of adoration, thanksgiving, confession just like the ones prayed in church. Pay attention to them. Model them.
  • Listen to the sermon to become a better Bible student. The sermon shouldn’t just teach you what the passage says, it should also help you become a better student of the word. Your pastor isn’t just teaching you what to think, but how to think about and understand God’s Word.
  • Engage in daily fellowship. Hopefully you don’t rush in and out of your church’s worship services. Linger a while, make relationships, then carry those relationships into the week. Meeting together is a spiritual discipline. Don’t go 7 days without being in the life of a Christian brother or sister.

Pastors:

I pastor at a church whose worship services exhibit a high level of planning, training, practice, thought, prayer, and execution. We have highly skilled instrumentalists and singers on stage, screens with beautiful graphics designed to direct our minds towards God, and sermons that have undergone hours of study and contemplation.

My fear is twofold:

1. Due to the complexity and professional nature of our services the average church member cannot replicate elements of our corporate worship into private worship.

2. Because every piece of worship has been taken out of their hands and given to the professionals they likely do not know that our corporate worship should instruct their private worship.

Let’s design worship services as if our church member’s private worship depended on them as their only source of instruction. Here’s what I mean in a few bullet points:

  • Take time to explain why you’re doing what you’re doing. Tell them that X, Y, or Z element in the service is there for their benefit. We’re currently in a series on prayer and we’re beginning our worship services by calling church members to come forward and bow and pray. We’re doing that in our service because we want them to learn to do it at home, or in the quiet of their office at work.
  • Pray prayers that you would want your church members to pray. Is your church failing to adore Christ? Lead in prayers of adoration. Does confession of sin need to happen more readily and easily? Lead in prayers confessing specific sins and thanking God for his provision of grace in Christ.
  • Craft sermons that make better Bible students. Your goal isn’t to perform theological and hermeneutical stunts before the eyes of your fans. Is how you preach on Sunday helping your church study the Bible for themselves on Monday?
  • Intentionally leave room for fellowship. We recently remodeled our front lobby. It’s gorgeous, and we always have coffee and places for our church members to sit and build friendships. Unfortunately, we’ve found that most people fly right through on their way to the auditorium. We’re going to start keeping the doors to the worship room closed up until a few minutes before services. We are trying to use the resources we have to create a space for relationships to develop.

This coming week attend with a different attitude. View the worship service with eyes that want to be instructed in private worship. Create worship services with an eye towards instructing you church on becoming better worshipers away from church. Christ will be honored.

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