I know some of you get around to reading emails and blogs on Sunday morning while some of you eschew them for the day. Either way, if you are preparing to walk out the door or reading this at some later time, let me encourage you with the following words. Let them be either prep for your worship today or an encouragement to return to community worship on some other. They are taking from Jonathan Dodson and his work on Fight Clubs:
The Gospel demands faith and fruit, but supplies what it demands through the promises of God made good by the power of the Spirit. The Father, Son and Spirit are collaborating for joy-filled, gospel-centered discipleship. Oh, that we would adorn the Gospel of Christ with our obedience and with our motivations. God is calling us to confess our failures and hope in the grace of repentance and faith. With commands in one hand and promises in the other, we need just one more thing – the Church. Disciples of Jesus are part of a community that fights the fight of faith. What we need are small fighting communities that are committed to gospel-centered discipleship.
Approach worship with God’s commands in one hand and His promises in the other. Arrive in this wonderful gift of God’s community, the Church, with great expectation that God is going to equip you to that which He has called. If you are a part of Sovereign King Church, take advantage of Fight Clubs, Project Runways, and CE Groups to build you up for the fight. If you are at another church, take advantage of the opportunities for smaller community efforts like small groups so that you might be encouraged to live out a gospel-centered discipleship.
Thanking God for all His gifts; worship Him today.
I was hot and in desperate need of caffeine with just enough time on my hands to swing through the drive thru at Starbucks. I ordered a coffee/vanilla frappuccino and pulled up to the window. The young employee reached out to take my money and asked, “Are you ready for the best frappuccino ever?” I thought, “Wow, yeah I am.”
Now by asking that question, the employee definitely raised my expectations, but he obviously felt confident enough in his product that it would deliver on his promises. The effective marketer working for Starbucks took me by surprise. I loved his confidence and his willingness to put himself on the line. It of course caused me to think about…worship.
What are our expectations when we come to worship our God? Are we there out of guilt? Are we there with our list of complaints about the service? Are we there casually indifferent or even just casually? I asked that question to Sovereign King Church at the beginning of our service once. I asked them, “Are you ready for the best frappuccino ever?” The story got a chuckle from the congregation, but we eventually began to explore the line of thought.
We considered just why we were here together. Did we come to worship the most beautiful one, Jesus? Did we arrive with the expectation that we would interact with our Savior in a way that we hadn’t all week? Did we come with the hopeful expectation that God would be active and alive among us? Essentially, we short change the character of our God if we come any other way.
But the Gospel is always prevalent even in our shortcomings and even in our worship. We may not always come with the highest of expectations when we worship (we may even come with doubt or hate), but in worship, we meet our most beautiful Savior. Jesus instructs, rebukes, calls, changes, transforms, convicts, teaches, leads, and moves us in worship. So, with the knowledge and experience of that, my prayer for my church and for you is that we would arrive to worship our God (heck, wake up each morning) with the expectation of the best frappuccino ever.
A form of this post originally appeared on August of 2007.
I’m gradually bringing the better posts from my old site over, so in reading through them, I decided to repost this one. Originally entitled “Practical Worship Preparation for Church Service Leaders (and Everyone Else Too)” I’ve simplified it to “Training to Win.” I hope it helps in your readiness for worship tomorrow.
Each and every believer should prepare themselves for worship. Examining your heart prior to walking into a worship service enables you to worship more freely and authentically. Yes, many worship services provide for plenty of opportunities for examination like a Call to Worship or a Time of Repentance, but those times are made more fruitful if your heart is already prepared by time in prayer and the word. In worship, we are to present our entire self (doubts, hopes, sins, et al) to God for worship, and the preparation of our hearts enables us to glorify God to greater depths than otherwise would be possible.
God is gracious. He cleans up our messes which means we can (and often) show up for worship without any preparation. God still changes us, convicts us, and receives glory in the doing, but our goal should be to cast the utmost glory possible to our Heavenly Father. Preparation helps us to do that.
The servants of a worship service (pastor, musician, etc) have even more responsibility to be prepared. The skills of singing, playing, and preaching are the barest of requirements for leading God’s people. Those that call people to worship should already be where they are asking others to go. After 20 years of playing music and actively participating in worship services, I’ve learned a few things from my mistakes. Let me share them with you.
Proper preparation begins even the day before worship. Some of these things are obvious but are worth mentioning. First and foremost, make sure that you are well rested physically. This means for many folks, that the activities of Saturday night need to be examined or re-examined. If you are going to be out or up late, that activity may not work well for worship preparation. Beginning the process of inviting the Spirit to open your heart to worship and the leading of worship is crucial. Engage in scripture study so your mind might be attuned to the words of God that are being proclaimed. If you know the passage of scripture being preached on, or if there is a sermon preview, you should familiarize yourself with it so as to be praying through the themes of worship in the service. Practically, doing things like picking out your clothes or your children’s clothes the night before helps to remove possible distraction.
If there is anything that you need to carry to worship (copies of music, musical equipment, etc), gather those together the night before and make sure they are in a condition that is worship ready. I learned long ago to always have a backup guitar available in case I break a string or if there is some other equipment malfunction. At the most minimum for the musician, they should have listened to the music that will be sung and be familiar and proficient with the parts that they will be playing and singing well before Sunday. Unless there are no copies of music to familiarize yourself with, you should never be experiencing a song for the first time on a Sunday morning.
These things don’t qualify you to worship or worship better. Only Christ’s redemptive work does that. However, proper preparation, whether in a lead role or support, removes many of the distractions that keep your heart and others from properly worshiping God.