Today, I’d like not to give a sermon, as though there aren’t enough of those circling around. If you’d like a nice grand definition of what worship is, this is not the place to look for it. Rather, I’d like to speak specifically to those of you who serve for the good of the congregation – whether you are the worship leader, or the bassist, the slides coordinator or the ‘sound’ guy, the lighting technician or even the usherer, or if you are serving at any capacity throughout the worship service, I’d like to have a chat with you.
Perhaps some of you are seasoned members of the ministry, to the point that chord sheets are a hindrance or shaking hands and handing out the church bulletins are second nature to you. Or, maybe some of you are newbies, bursting with excitement for your next scheduled worship practice, or getting all crazy on photoshop and illustrator for the next 120 slides that the worship leader has just submitted the night before Sunday service. If this doesn’t sound familiar, I’d still like to speak to you.
Often times I find that if you’re either end on the spectrum, of being a veteran or a freshie, you’re in danger of actually missing out the grand joy of being ‘a part’ of the congregation, and being served and ministered to on the Sunday. This can even be to the point where you either find no more joy being a ‘normal’ congregation member when you are not put on duty, or that you simply want to get your duty done and out of the way. If any of these examples apply to you, I’d like to encourage you with three simple things, that may change not only the way you serve, but more so, to appreciate what God is doing in us through all of it.
- Before we are called to serve, we are called to Worship
Sometimes, we get caught up in the idea that if we’re not sitting on the pew during Sunday service, that we are in some kind of elevated state, where ‘worshipping’ doesn’t apply to us. We may tell ourselves, ‘I need to ensure that every newcomer has been made to feel welcomed, that every news bulletin has been distributed.’ Or maybe we tell ourselves, ‘I’ve got to get every beat right, or to get that punch or cut right just as we’d planned during worship practice.’ And we’re so anxious to get our role down perfect, that we feel nervous and stressed out during service.
The truth is, none of those things matters – first. At the end of the day, the gathering of the church on a Sunday is not only for those who are not on the duty roster, but it is for every single one of us.
When the band starts to play songs that remind us about God, do I feel my heart elevated, and my mind full of wonder and delight at the God we worship? When the pastor begins to preach about Jesus Christ crucified, or the courage of the apostles or the folly of the Israelites, does it make my heart ache for redemption, or my hands lifted in humble adoration and surrender to God?
Whether you’re on stage or off stage, God’s eyes is running over all of us, searching for all who will seek Him with a humble heart and outstretched arms. He doesn’t just want the congregation, He wants you – the boy with the sticks in his hands, or the girl with the freshly printed church pamphlets. You are His child, and He beckons us to worship Him this Sunday morning.
- Before we are called to serve, we are called to Surrender
Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’
Matt 22: 37 – 39
The church is full of different needs – from financial to emotional, to physical to spiritual needs. Often times, we carry not only the burdens of our fellow brothers and sisters, but rather we bring our own burdens into the auditorium hall. And these burdens can weigh us down from truly experiencing the joy that the Spirit of the Lord brings, not just on the Sunday morning, but daily!
God calls broken and lowly people to His service, that is not breaking news. From the disciples who were fisherman, to the tax collectors and the prostitutes, God has been calling all the dirty and the sinful people to be His citizens, that He may first work in them and then through them to establish His reign as Lord and Saviour.
But He doesn’t do this, without first tuning our hearts and minds to His desire and His thoughts. God doesn’t call us to serve Him apart from our sufferings and our burdens, but rather with them and sometimes, through them! Our pains and our sufferings can sometimes bring comfort to the people around us, because they know that whatever it is that they are going through, they are not in it alone. Furthermore, God uses our trials and tribulations, to shape us, so that we not only grow tough as a warrior, but that we may become more and more like Jesus – in the way he lived, in the way he loved.
This act of surrendering, of letting go and giving it all to Him doesn’t only happen on the Sunday. But each and every day of our lives, as we learn to love God most and to entrust to Him our cares and worries, He tunes our hearts, sharpens our minds and moves our hands to be effective and compassionate ministers of His grace, peace and love to His congregation.
- Before we are called to serve, we are called to Savour
Often times, we are more concerned about becoming more skilled or more effective servants of God. But before all that, God calls us to enjoy Him – to the fullest.
He wants our drumbeats, to be driven by His Heartbeat for the church and the lost. He wants our slides not to reflect our artistry, but to reflect Him as the Author of all creation.
And these things don’t come about just by the investment of time in our skills, but first in our search for Him in His word. If we are first not captured by His beauty, His holiness and His love which transforms our lives, how can we expect anyone else’s heart and life to be transformed on a Sunday morning?
When Tommy sees Jane enjoying what looks like the best cone of ice cream in the whole darn world, don’t you think he’ll be curious to find out why?
That’s not to say, that we all need to serve with big fat smiles plastered onto our faces… Rather, the love of God compels us to love, to serve, and to minister to others with a joy inexpressible. This can only come from Him, when we spend time with Him and when we come to understand the power that is working in us, for His glory.
So the question now is, what must change? Let me suggest three things:
- Pray for the congregation – for the members, for the newcomers, for the pastors and the elders. This tunes your heart not to the perfection of your craft, but to the perfection of God’s people through His Holy Spirit
- In your preparation, worship – As you prepare the slides, your songs, or the church pamphlets, remember Who you serve. Let the words of the songs, the pictures on your slides and the upcoming events serve to remind you about His love for you, and let it cause you to sing and dance and shout for joy
- Spend time with God – This may seem like a cliché, but truly nothing else prepares us more for His service, then the Father Himself. Only by growing in love for Him, may our love for His people be reflected in our songs, in our handshakes and in our lives