Pastors expect a lot out of congregants.
I’m guilty of expecting the Christians in my congregation to be on time for the service they choose to attend. I’d prefer that they not leave until the final dismissal. As well, I appreciate their spiritual sensitivity during the invitation and altar service.
I’m guilty, but I don’t apologize for high expectations.
There’s one more thing that most pastors want for their Christian congregants. We want them to be more than a spectator. We want them to be participators in the worship service.
Everyone is not like me. I can shift from being the administrative leader overseeing staff to a prophet with a Word from God in a matter of minutes. I’ve had a lot of practice at it, but it doesn’t come naturally. It takes focus!
The kind of worship I’m talking about requires more than attendance. It takes focused desire.
I can distinctly recall the Holy Spirit dealing with me on the subject of worship many years ago. I was sitting smugly on the platform, awaiting the time to deliver the sermon. My body language oozed indifference (whether intended or not). I was a tired bivocational pastor who often endured fatigue and sinus headaches.
However, it occurred to me how discouraging it must be for the average person to not see their pastor plugged into the worship service. Through that season, I repented. I no longer stoically sit like a piece of furniture. Instead, I do my best to worship God demonstratively.
I believe all pastors and preachers should do the same. Let me give you 3 solid reasons why we should boldly worship God during the corporate worship service.
1. God is worthy.
Pastor, I know this is elemental, but bear with me. Recall the simplicity of what it means to be saved by grace. Think about His faithfulness over the years of your life and ministry. Meditate on His unfailing love for you. God has done too much and been too good for us to sit back with folded arms and not worship Him!
Now put your intellect to work and that body of education you have. Consider what you know about the various names of God used throughout Bible history. Think about the great works He has done and give Him some praise. He is worthy of all the focused worship we can muster.
Pastor, it does not matter what we are gifted to do or called to do in that particular service. The God of your salvation has called you to worship Him in spirit and truth (John 4:23-24).
2. Your staff deserves it.
In my case, I recognize that most of my staff is not fully funded in the ministry. They have other jobs that keep them financially stable. Add to that the multitude of obligations they maintain outside of our joint ministry. The fact that we can carry out a decently organized worship service is almost miraculous.
I’ll use my pastorate and our worship pastor, for example. Our first worship service is at 9:15. On Sunday mornings, he’s usually the first person on campus. To get his soul and his voice warmed up for the day, he will arrive before 7 am. He unlocks the doors, sets up the media booth, and checks the thermostats. The dedication he displays means I should not take him or God for granted. He deserves to see his pastor plugged into the worship service.
Pastor, perhaps you have a similar scenario with your staff. Their dedication is commendable. Just like you, the operation of their gifts is sometimes sacrificial. Your staff appreciates it when you worship God with them.
3. The congregation needs your example.
I get a genuine thrill when I see my congregation get caught up in the worship of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ. It does my soul good to see their souls blessed as we focus on Him. And let me tell you what’s in it for me. When the worship team (music ministry) has prayerfully exercised their gifts, and the congregation has spent their time in Spirit-led worship, my preaching becomes more effective.
However, everyone doesn’t understand their need for focused participation in a worship service. Think about the new converts and new-comers in your congregation. Someone has to show them how it’s done. It’s called leading by example.
Pastor, you appreciate it and even expect your congregants to stay tuned in to the message. You believe your preaching (through the power of the Holy Spirit) has the power to change their lives. If you expect the staff and congregation to interact with you during preaching, you’d better interact with them during the worship music.
In the end, this is really about culture. What type of culture do you believe God wants for your local church?
By church culture, I’m describing the thought patterns and accompanying behaviors of your congregation. It includes attitudes, beliefs, and values. But culture is fluid, and that means you can change it.
If there is a side for cultural error on the subject of corporate worship, I’d rather my church be a tad too lively than too formal.
Pastor, it’s up to you to set the worship culture expectation. No one should have to guess whether or not you want to be there. After all, you planned this service. You called this meeting. Now lead your people in worship!
P.S. Pastor, don’t mistake this as an endorsement for disorder. God is not the author of confusion but order. You can lead your church to a lively, well-ordered, Spirit-filled culture of worship.