Having a format for worship service is common. Each denomination has their own version but most include music, greeting, prayer, Scripture reading, offering, sermon and an invitation to accept Christ or join the church. Even contemporary services have a pattern and it is usually very similar to their traditional counterparts.
The format of a service is designed to not only teach and reinforce doctrine, but also to create that sense of familiarity. You can walk into any traditional denomination worship setting and find aspects you recognize. But a worship service is more than the sum of its parts. It is more than how much you put in the offering plate; how beautifully you sing; how well the sermon is preached or how earnestly you pray. Corporate worship is designed to connect us with Our God; to mingle our hearts in meditation on His Word, His Works and His person. It is a guide for unity – not only with each other, but with Christ right there in our midst.
The danger of a well-worn path of worship is that the longer you’ve done it, the greater the possibility of falling into a rut. To quote comments from a reader on Part 2 of this series, it is easy to make worship about how you feel about the service, what you liked or didn’t like or to “check the box” of going to church on Sunday.
Worship is supposed to be interactive – regardless of the format. We are there to be infused with The Holy Spirit, so we are then enabled to do His Work. In order to make the most of our experience, there are ingredients that we, as worshippers, can bring with us. Those ingredients can easily be found in 1 Chronicles 16:8-36 and Matthew 6:9-13:
- Humility (1 Chron 16:30)
- Surrender (Matt 6:10)
- Repentance (1 Chron 16:35)
- Praise (1 Chron 16:910,23-29,31-33,36; Matt 6:9)
- Thanksgiving (1 Chron 16:8)
- Obedience (1 Chron 16:11-12)
When we come prepared to worship, we never leave empty handed and as part of our correctly aligned hearts, He will bless us with:
- Salvation (1 Chron 16:35)
- Forgiveness (Matt 6:12)
- Provision (1 Chron 16:18; Matt 6:11)
- Deliverance (Matt 6:13)
- Protection (1 Chron 16:21-22)
The Lord doesn’t want offerings of the physical kind. Indeed Psalm 51:17 states that His offerings are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart. What we bring to Church is just as important as what we are expecting from the service. If you desire your experience to be energized, here is an analogy to use as a different way to view worship:
Imagine yourself on your way to visit your most trusted Friend. You think about all that has happened since your last visit and all that you will talk about. Visualize how you feel when you first see Him and what you will do. Will you run to embrace, shake hands or immediately sit down and start talking? Throughout the conversation, you find the encouragement and wisdom is just what you needed. When you leave, you are renewed and revived.
Your participation – your worship elements – are critical to experiencing the power of God. You get out of it what you put into it so put more in to it this Sunday!