Apr 30, 2013 Words of Grace – The Ministry of Corporate Worship
While on sabbatical during February and March, I had the privilege to participate in Sunday worship at Grace for eight weeks without preaching. During these weeks, I gained some insights into the practical aspects of Sunday worship. Here are a few things I learned.
1. It is good to come prepared. I found that if I had my Bible, a pen, my reading glasses, and my bulletin ready for use during the service, it kept me from fumbling around trying to find things during the singing and the sermon.
2. It is encouraging to greet and to be greeted. I thought that if I was going to spend 75 minutes sitting close to people singing, praying, and listening to a sermon, I should at least find out their names. Though I am sure I don’t remember all of their names, greeting people made the worship service more comfortable.
3. Worshiping God in song is a wonderful gift. I admit that sometimes I am too focused on preaching, and I have a hard time singing with abandon. One post-sabbatical resolution I have made is to trust the Word of God, the power of the Spirit, and my sermon preparation so I can sing without being preoccupied with the upcoming sermon.
4. The pastoral prayer is a time for the congregation to pray as well. I found myself giving internal “amens” and other expressions of agreement as the preacher for the day prayed over the congregation. I benefited more from the prayer when I prayed along rather than if I wandered off in my mind.
5. I found it helpful during the sermon to listen for one or two big points that I needed to hear that day. Some people like to write down every word of the message. While that can be a helpful listening technique, I found that taking too many notes can distract me from reflecting on the main point or on the point the Holy Spirit was seeking to work into my heart.
6. Corporate worship can be personal in nature. God spoke to me each week through his Word, the sermon, and the songs we sang. I came away with a personal encouragement or correction from the Lord. I was able to think about these things throughout Sunday and the next week.
The ministry of corporate worship is a precious gift from God. Let us pray for the power of God’s Spirit to enlighten our minds and revive our hearts as we gather together each week.