One of the benefits of full-time RVing is getting to worship God in a variety of settings and getting to hear God’s Word preached from many different perspectives. We also get to see the unique, creative, and innovative ways that different congregations accomplish the different elements of organized worship. We hope to occasionally share some “best practices” along with inspirational, challenging, or otherwise helpful lessons that we come across on our journey.
On June 14th we worshipped with the church of Christ at Cedar Lane in Tullahoma, TN. Steven Hovater, their preacher, spoke that morning about 45 ways to enhance the worship experience. Ideally, worshipping God would always be inspiring and meaningful…and we’d always give it our all. But, like everything else in life, it’s possible to sometimes lose our focus a bit and begin going through the motions. What should be inherently inspiring can become routine.
Here, then, are 45 ways to give your organized worship a booster shot. Some are more useful than others. Some you’ll reject outright. But hopefully a few of Brother Hovater’s suggestions, as paraphrased below, will be helpful.
- Come with a listening spirit. Have ears ready to hear what will be offered from Scripture. Have an attitude that God is about to communicate something important to me and I need to be listening for it.
- Come early. Give yourself time to settle in and prepare for what is about to happen. Rushing in at the last minute or arriving late sends the wrong message.
- Stay late. Give your conversation with people time to breathe. Have more to say than “hi” and “good to see you”.
- Unplug. Leave your phone at home or turn it off. You can check the news and weather and send texts when you are through.
- Plug-in. Yes, this contradicts #4; but, rather than be distracted by technology, use it to engage others. Tweet/Facebook/Instagram things that thoughtfully struck you about the service/lesson.
- Move. Sit closer to the front or further back, or on a different side of the building. This will help you to meet new people and have a different vantage point of the service.
- Sleep well/long the night before. Come rested and ready to worship.
- Expand your scope. Think about other Scriptures, Bible stories, and songs that might support the lesson theme.
- Receive a song. Don’t sing a song, but let the family sing it to you. Hear their hearts. (Of course, don’t do this for every song!)
- Turn up the volume. Sing louder than you are comfortable. This encourages others around you to sing out.
- Be hospitable. Welcome people, especially visitors, like they are guests in your home.
- Read ahead. Meditate on the sermon text (possibly found in the bulletin) or some other Scripture before worship begins.
- Take notes. Take notes about everything, not just the lesson…communion devotional, favorite song, prayer list, etc. Writing in general helps disentangle our thoughts.
- Be physical. Worship with your body. Consider your posture.
- Stretch. Intentionally wake your body for worship beforehand. Get the blood flowing.
- Talk in church. If a particular song or sermon point or something else had an impact on you, lean over and share that with your neighbor. This doesn’t mean carrying on a 20-minute conversation.
- Talk back. Appropriate responses at the appropriate time (Amen, Yes, Alright, That’s right, Come on, etc.) Most preachers appreciate the feedback and encouragement.
- Pray for God’s Spirit to work. Pray for yourself and pray for others that have heard the lesson. Pray that you or someone else will be touched by the service in some way.
- Smile at children. Learn their names. Help them know that this place is home to them; that they belong here.
- Write at least one thing down. Something significant about the sermon, a song, communion, or a conversation you had. What’s the one biggest thing you took away from this experience?
- Don’t be a critic. Worship is not the movies, not a show to be judged or rated. We are there to worship God, not be entertained.
- Sing to someone. Give the song to someone else. Think about someone else as you are singing a song.
- Sing the words. Pronounce the words; understand the words. Don’t just regurgitate lyrics.
- Fast. The huge breakfast just prior to worship may not always be the best approach.
- Sketch. Capture something meaningful with an image.
- Commune with intent. Seriously think about each aspect of the communion with the Lord and the worship service.
- Attend to the absent. Notice who wasn’t present. Send them a card or call them to let them know they were missed. Give them a short synopsis of the sermon.
- Debrief. Talk about the service and lessons learned with others (not critically). Ask your spouse or children what was the most important thing they learned.
- Practice. If there was a song you didn’t know, work on it throughout the week.
- Recreate the text in your memory. Try to write down or verbalize what the main Scripture reference was word for word. Then decide what’s missing that you didn’t recall.
- See anew. Enter the worship assembly as if it was your first time to worship God. Reflect for a moment on what it means to be in the presence of God.
- Pick a hymn. Take one of the hymns that was sung and sing it throughout the week.
- Pre-pray the order of worship. When you arrive, look over the bulletin worship schedule and pray for those presiding.
- Seek the Lord. Think about how God has been revealed through the worship. As you depart, ask yourself, “Where did I see/feel God today?”
- Free your worship tone. Allow your worship to have a range of emotions (laugh, cry, reflect, nostalgic, etc.)
- Surrender. Come in and allow the lesson or worship experience to create problems in your life. Let it convict you of something awry in your life.
- Explore the places of worship. Think about each act of worship and its significance.
- Shift perspective. Worship with someone else’s mindset. How might my son/mother/friend be receiving this message?
- Consider God’s character. Encounter a God who is love.
- Own worship. Don’t let somebody else worship for you. Don’t think worship is just for those leading the worship service.
- Keep a worship journal. How is worship shaping you?
- Connect the dots. How is today’s worship service connected to your past, present and future?
- Prepare to be prepared. Become malleable. Allow the worship experience to change you.
- Accept the sending. Imagine each week is your missionary send-off.
- Fully engage. Leave all outside thoughts at the door and fully focus on what is happening.
We are called to worship God in spirit and in truth (John 4:24). We hope you can find a few items on this list to enhance your worship experience. If you have additional suggestions, please post them in the comments section.
Lil Jan and Big Steve
3,873 total views, 0 views today