Serve the LORD with gladness! (Psalm 100:2a)
Read the Psalms and you get the feeling that congregational worship is supposed to be thrilling. More times than not, whenever worship gatherings are mentioned, the psalmists allude to things like thanksgiving, singing, rejoicing, and celebration. The church ought to be the happiest place on earth—a dynamic culture that exudes a profound enjoyment of God and others (Ps. 16:3, 11).
While all faithful Christians will agree with that, our actual experience has, at times, diverged from it. True, we know that we should enjoy every worship gathering. But it can be challenging to see how an ordinary Sunday can be marked by such supernatural enthusiasm.
Therefore, I’d like to offer five essentials for experiencing a more widespread enthusiasm on the Lord’s Day. While these aren’t anything new, they are vital for the joy of our congregation. Let’s dive in.
(1) Pursue joy in daily life.
The everyday pursuit of joy is central to the Christian life (Rom. 15:13). We experience joy in God by cultivating a dynamic relationship with Him through regular observance of the disciplines He has ordained—Bible intake, focused prayer, the fellowship of the saints, the reading of Christ-centered literature, thoroughgoing repentance, generosity toward others, etc.
Therefore, we must eagerly practice anything and everything that enhances our enjoyment of God’s presence on a daily basis. After all, if our everyday lives aren’t characterized by joy, our congregational life probably won’t be either.
(2) Sing from the heart.
Heartfelt singing naturally pours out of a genuinely joyful church. In fact, the apostle Paul claimed that enthusiastic sung-worship is a key evidence of our being filled with the Spirit (Eph. 5:18-19), meaning that a Christian who doesn’t sing is biblically unthinkable.
Maybe you don’t like music, or perhaps you feel uncomfortable about singing due to your lack of musical ability. Even still, by God’s estimation such feelings, however legitimate they may seem, don’t excuse us from worshiping Him through song. We simply can’t afford to “phone in” one of our most cherished activities, which He has ordained for His glory and our joy. Therefore, we must conform our lives to His wisdom by learning to treasure the gift of congregational song for all it’s worth.
(3) Talk back.
Contrary to what you were told growing up, it’s actually good to talk in church. Our African-American brothers and sisters model this very well in their eagerness to talk back to the preacher. Let’s learn from them.
When the preaching of the Word stirs us for Jesus, we ought not be afraid to exclaim ‘Amen!’ When the leader upfront greets us, it’s okay to greet him back with a joyful “Good morning!” When we hear personal testimonies of God’s grace or witness a baptism, the best thing to do is to make a joyful noise. So let’s explore what it means to be more verbally responsive to the dynamics of the gathering.
(4) Be mindful of your physical demeanor.
In the church, we rightfully emphasize worship as a matter of the heart. However, it’s dead wrong to separate inward worship from outward expression. We don’t just “worship God in our hearts.” We worship Him with our bodies too (1 Co. 6:20)!
When encountering God, we must consider how our physical demeanor portrays His worth. This is why we are encouraged to express our worship through actions like clapping, raising our hands, and bowing down before Him. God has given us a myriad of ways to demonstrate our worship. So let’s align our expression with His Word.
(5) Prioritize hospitality.
Romans 15:7 says, “Welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you for the glory of God.” Never underestimate the impact a welcoming environment can make. Covenant members and regular attenders have a responsibility to worship God by exuding warmth toward others in the gathering. This is why we say each week at LifePoint, Hospitality expresses the Gospel. Our congregational enthusiasm hinges on how faithfully we prioritize this. So let’s do what we can to welcome others.
Finally, we aren’t pursuing enthusiasm for its own sake. Rather, we pursue it because it is an essential part of our worship and witness. A congregation that has been gripped by the Gospel simply won’t have stale gatherings. Comprised of joyful Christians, such a congregation refuses to appear bored or remain passive in worship, because God’s glory demands an enthusiastic response. I wonder if you believe that.
Liturgy for Sunday, November 01, 2015:
Call to Worship: Psalm 145:10-13
Confession & Assurance: Galatians 4:4-7
Benediction: Numbers 6:24-26