What Should I Do At a Worship Gathering? Part 2
Before you continue reading this post, make sure that you’ve read Part 1, which explains that our role in a worship gathering is to participate in remembering the gospel.
As it is with many things in life, (relationships, work, home… etc) it’s so easy for us to be at the worship gatherings but not present. We’re thinking about everything else except what is present, what we’re singing about or hearing preached, what we’re experiencing in this moment. We’re just “there” but we’re not participating. This is such a waste of an amazing opportunity for us to be encouraged and built up in the truth of Christ.
So when the church gathers together to worship God, our primary role is to participate in the rhythms of remembering and responding to the gospel of Jesus! Remember the gospel story, remember Jesus, remember the cross, the glory of God, sing the songs, read the scripture, hear the preaching, ponder what we’re reading/singing, think, engage, respond, participate!
Respond to the Spirit of God who is longing to reveal to us the glory of our Savior! The Spirit of God does the work of calling us to worship God, opening our hearts, minds, and souls to see the beauty and glory of Christ, and He even enables us to respond. Our role is to participate and follow the Holy Spirit as He leads and reveals to us the glory of God!
This participation will look very different from person to person. If you have an animated personality, your participation will be animated! If you have a quiet, reflective personality, then your participation will reflect that. I love this diverse aspect of the family of God. If you’ve had a really heart-breaking week, experiencing loss or sickness, your participation and response may look completely different than if you’ve had the best week ever. But in both of those weeks, you need to hear again and respond to the gospel of Jesus. This isn’t a call to “worship and participate in a particular way” (e.g. everybody get your hands up!!). This is a call to engage. To think deeply, to feel deeply, to respond with a whole heart and whole life!
The beauty of this is that as we remember and participate in this story at our gatherings, we often experience the grace and presence of God in amazing ways as He actively moves and speaks to us! We don’t gather to worship just to reach a “high emotion”, or what we often incorrectly define as “God’s active presence”. Sometimes that high emotion is the result of an awareness of God’s presence, but His presence is so much more than just “high emotion”. As we remember and reflect on the gospel story, our hearts are often stirred in amazing ways! The Spirit uses these times to move and draw our affections, our love, our desires, our emotions, to the overwhelming majestic glory of God! We love these moments, rightly desire them, and should fully respond to them, but they are a result of our gatherings, not the end goal. The end goal is God’s glory being declared and exulted, not just an emotional experience.
Our worship of God, both continuous worship (our lives lived out to the glory of God) and conscious worship (gathered worship, devotional worship) is to be done with all of our life, heart, mind, and strength (Matthew 22:37). Everything we are and have is to be poured out as a living sacrifice in response to the incredible glory of God (Romans 12:1). It’s in this that we find the greatest joy and satisfaction as we live out our original purpose: to worship God with all that we are.
Our gatherings serve as a beautiful rhythm that the Holy Spirit uses to re-orient/re-focus our hearts and minds as we gather together, encouraging each other to see and respond to the gospel in the midst of a world that is bombarding us with lies about worshiping ourselves and the created things (Romans 1:21-25).
So my challenge to you is when we gather, engage, be present, respond, be active, participate! Don’t hold back. Resist distractions. Don’t be reserved. Put your pride and cynical attitude away and respond to and experience the glory of God with the family of God, as we encourage each other and remind each other of the gospel of Jesus Christ!
Sing loud. In the midst of diverse styles and types of songs, whether you connect with that specific song/style or not, the one consistent thing is that our songs speak of Jesus and God’s glory!
Read with joy. Actively listen. Raise your hands. Clap. Shout (Ps. 33, Ps. 149). Praise God. Give thanks to Him! Allow God’s glory to capture your heart/emotions/mind. Seek to encourage everyone around you. Have deep conversations about what God’s been teaching you. Pray for each other. Ask and receive prayer. (If you’re struggling to participate, grab someone and ask them to pray with/for you.) Participate with your family. Why? Because you need it and because your brothers and sisters in Christ, who have gathered with you, need it. Because anything less then a full-hearted, engaged response is robbing you of an opportunity that God intended for your encouragement.
Veritas, hear and respond to the Word of the Lord:
Oh sing to the LORD a new song;
sing to the LORD, all the earth!
Sing to the LORD, bless his name;
tell of his salvation from day to day.
Declare his glory among the nations,
his marvelous works among all the peoples!
For great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised;
he is to be feared above all gods.
For all the gods of the peoples are worthless idols,
but the LORD made the heavens.
Splendor and majesty are before him;
strength and beauty are in his sanctuary.
Ascribe to the LORD, O families of the peoples,
ascribe to the LORD glory and strength!
Ascribe to the LORD the glory due his name;
bring an offering, and come into his courts!
Worship the LORD in the splendor of holiness;
tremble before him, all the earth!
(Psalm 96:1-9 ESV)