As we’re in the midst of summer vacations, Vacation Bible School, and church camps, my wife and I were discussing the different kind of worship experiences we’ve had. We ended up dwelling on the question, “Why do some worship experiences seem to be so much more meaningful and the presence of God felt more than others?”
After talking through possible answers, we started talking about expectations...
- When going to a camp, or on a retreat, we often are looking for a “mountain top experience.”
- During VBS, kids expect to have a good time, and the leaders are there for one purpose - to show the kids the love of God.
- When on a calm vacation (ha! I know these are few and far between), or simply in time we’ve set aside to be still before God, we listen more intently for God’s voice.
So why don’t we look forward to our Sunday morning worship times together with this same type of expectation and anticipation? Maybe we’re so “used” to these services that the excitement has worn off. We sing songs, pray, read the Bible, and listen to preaching. That’s what we do. That’s what we expect. It has become routine. Or maybe there are things that just annoy us: the music style isn’t our own preference, or the preaching isn’t on the subject we’d like, or the sound system is just too loud (or too quiet). There will always be things that get in the way of our purpose and distract us from what’s best - worshiping our great God.
So what can we do?
We can know our purpose of meeting together - to worship.
“Worship is the believer’s response of all that they are – mind, emotions, will, body – to what God is and says and does” (Warren Wiersbe, Real Worship, pg. 26).
It doesn’t take the right song to worship; it doesn’t take an eloquent preacher for us to worship. Knowing the character of God and what he has done for us through Jesus Christ is enough! Simply because of what we believe, we should be able to “Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise” (Ps. 100:4). We can expect God to show us something about Himself which causes us to respond with praise, gratitude, or repentance (or all three)! The leaders on the platform are striving to be signposts that lead to our great God. They try to lead the congregation in remembering what God has done for each of us and what He is continuing to do. Each song is carefully selected to expose the truths found in the Bible and to connect peoples’ hearts to God’s, and the sermons are crafted to help apply what God has shared with us in His Word to our lives. But the leaders cannot force anyone to respond, or to worship.
Some Scriptures that direct me as a worship leader on Sunday mornings are:
- Oh, magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt his name together!
- My mouth is filled with your praise, and with your glory all the day.
- They shall speak of the might of your awesome deeds, and I will declare your greatness. (Ps. 145:6)
We believe God is always with us. Therefore we are always in His presence. Each and every moment of the day, what we do and say can be an opportunity to worship God. Sundays are opportunities for us, as a family of believers - Trinity Baptist Church - to come together and celebrate Christ and glorify our Heavenly Father. With this in mind, here is a quote I recently read in a blog by another worship leader:
So as I’m standing in front of the church, leading them in songs, Scripture reading, and prayer, my goal is not to “lead them into God’s presence,” but to help them remember and celebrate what Christ has accomplished for them through his righteous life, atoning death, and glorious resurrection. As they place their faith and trust in the perfect high priest, they will most likely experience a fresh awareness of God’s nearness. Their position in Christ hasn’t changed. Their appreciation of it has. The church will be built up and God will be glorified.
-Bob Kauflin, blog - “Entering the Presence of God.”
God is worthy of our worship.