Pastor, Just Attend

Yesterday was one of those rare days in the life of a minister, I just attended a worship service. I know what you are probably thinking,

But pastor, you attend a worship service every week, that is kinda what you do. That’s your big day. What you have been preparing for and working towards all week.

You would be right. I attend worship every week. When I attend, I worship alongside others, but I also lead the worship I attend – I pray, I read Scripture, I preach, and I distribute the communion elements.

In Your Shoes

Yesterday, however, someone else did all those things. Someone else led the worship I attended. Essentially, I was in your shoes. I was greeted at the door by friendly greeters who didn’t call me pastor. I attended a Sunday School class where I participated as a visitor. I sat in the pew during the service singing, praying, and listening to the sermon with everyone else. As we took communion, I sat next to my son explaining to him what the bread and grape juice (Baptist Church) represented. I just attended the worship service.

Not a Divide

I don’t say “I just attended” to create a divide between those attending and those leading. I don’t believe the clergy are superior to the congregant. I believe in the priesthood of all believers. I have no more of a connection to God than other Christians. We are all called by God to our vocation. So I don’t make that distinction in order to make light of attending worship or to create a divide between the attendee and the leader. Instead, I make the distinction because it is rare for pastors to not be involved in some way in the worship service. It is rare for them to just attend.

Refreshing

While there was a moment during the preaching portion of the service that I missed standing behind the pulpit proclaiming the Word, it was refreshing to attend and worship with other likeminded brothers and sisters in the Lord. It was good for my soul. It provided me rest. It even confirmed to me my calling to preach.

Pastor, Just Attend

Pastor, let me encourage you to take a Sunday off, attend another church where others don’t know you as pastor, and just attend. Don’t agree to read Scripture or pray. Don’t agree to be a guest speaker. Don’t participate in the service as a minister in any way, just attend with everyone else. Just worship with everyone else. Take a break and let someone else lead. It will be good for your soul. It will provide you rest. And it may even confirm your calling to preach. Pastor, just attend.

Worship is to be a Way of Life

Worship is to be a way of life, one in which we honor and glorify God for who he is and what he has done.

True Worship

In true worship, we stand in reverent awe before him, acknowledging him to be our God, submitting to his sovereign rule in our life, and giving him our very best. Our lives are offered to him as living sacrifices. All that we do is sacred, because every act is lifted up to him as an offering.

Worship Wherever and In Whatever

Of course, there is something unique and significant about believers coming together in corporate worship. But when they leave, they do not cease to worship but rather continue to honor and glorify God wherever they go and in whatever they do.

Question for Reflection

  1. Do you view worship as a way of life or just something you do on Sunday morning?
  2. How could viewing worship as a way of life all of life change the way you live throughout the week?

Resource

Murray Capill, The Heart is the Target183-84 (headings mine)

Do You Worship Out of a Sense of Duty or Thankfulness?

In Psalm 50, Asaph confronts Israel regarding their worship and living. What they were doing isn’t much different from what many do today. Their worship was formulaic. In other words, they were going through the motions. Sure, they brought the appropriate sacrifices, but it was done more out of a sense of duty instead of thanksgiving.

Many Do the Same Today

To our shame, many today view the Sunday worship service as nothing more than another box to check off on their spiritual checklist right alongside their morning prayer and devotion. Thinking that way, we drag ourselves to the Sunday Service, sing a few songs, bow for the pastoral prayer, greet our neighbors, place some money in the offering plate, listen to the sermon, and then we are on our way, patting ourselves on the back for a job well done. Why do we do this?

Why Do We Worship Out of Duty?

We worship out of duty because we think that is what God wants or needs. But that is far from the truth. God doesn’t need us, our provisions, or our worship. He owns everything, and He is satisfied in and of Himself. The truth is, we need God. We need His provisions and care.

The Gospel Changes Our Perspective

Instead of faking it, what we need to do is change our perspective. The way we do that is by meditating on the gospel.

The gospel tells us we are sinners, who have rebelled against and offended a holy God. As a result, we are destined to suffer His wrath. However, Jesus came, lived a perfect life, and, even though He didn’t deserve God’s wrath, He faced it on our behalf. He took the wrath we deserve on Himself. All those who repent of their sins and believe Jesus suffered the punishment we deserve, can experience a restored relationship with the Father free from the fear of judgment.

For Jesus’ sacrifice, we should be thankful. For God’s provision and care in our life, we should be thankful. Our thankfulness should drive us to worship God. So when we begin to go through the motions in worship, what we need to do is stop, meditate on the gospel, and remember God’s provisions.

We need to reset our heart, so we see that it’s not God who needs us, but we who need Him.

When we truly see our need for God and how He has provided for us, we should be driven to worship out of a sense of thankfulness instead of duty. When we worship from a right heart, we end up glorifying God. For He says in Psalm 50:23

“The one who offers thanksgiving as his sacrifice glorifies me; to one who orders his way rightly I will show the salvation of God!” (Ps. 50:23)

Question for Reflection

  1. Does thankfulness or duty drive your worship?

Resource

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