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  • Writer's pictureSam J. Brock

The Church Congregant Part 2 ~ Participation

 

“The greatest among you shall be your servant. Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.”

Matthew 23:11-12

 

The evidence of a burning faith and deep desire to obey Christ is often found in service. Service to our family, friends, church, and ultimately our Holy God. As christians we are called to identify our God-given gifts as we lovingly give our time and energy to those around us (1 Peter 4:10). I say this because many fail to make an effort to serve their Church, especially on Sunday. Even though we might have the time and skills to make a profound impact in the various ministries within our congregation, we tend to prioritize what happens before or after the Sunday service. Granted, we experience countless exceptions as many churchgoers have unique circumstances. But this certainly doesn’t exclude a majority who are capable of helping the congregation each week.


Regardless of the size of your church, it’s a safe bet to believe there is a way to impact its various missions and ministries. Ask around and you can surely find a way to get plugged into a ministry that suits your gifts and benefits your church. Note that your service could end up being behind the scenes. Many congregations require pre or post-service work that will never be noticed by the majority of attendees. What truly matters is that we are serving Christ and His people. The impact here can and may very well be profound. Who knows who and what you might impact.


At the end of the day, giving time back to the people who have been so faithful to you and your local church is essential. Relationships will be formed and Christ will be exalted in and through the work of you and the congregants. Regardless of the form of service one finds themself committed to, there’s no reason we shouldn’t be making an effort to help our church in some capacity. If you’re not already finding a way to serve your local Church, I hope this is a reminder of the importance and benefits of doing so.

 

Worship Intentionally


“All the nations you have made shall come and worship before you, O Lord, and shall glorify your name. For you are great and do wondrous things; you alone are God

Psalm 86:9-10

 

Countless times in scripture we find a direct call to worship. It’s something many of us deeply enjoy and cherish. Worship often recenters the soul on the glorious truths of the Christian faith; an essential need of any believer. As we gather with the saints on Sunday to revere and adore God collectively, it’s important to approach this time with a heart of intention. Let’s break down what it means to worship intentionally during the typical Sunday service.


The key ingredient in purposeful worship is the heart. We tend to become consumers and critics of the worship set on a given Sunday (don’t get me wrong, this can certainly be justified at times). But let us be reminded of why we are there in the first place. As Christians it is our duty to approach worship with a thankful, reverent attitude (Eph 5:18-20). We often fail to do so - looking to fill our own needs before looking outwardly to God.


This is often seen when congregants prefer the “entertaining” service compared to the alternatives. We are by no means attending Church to be entertained (sadly the majority of congregations are headed this way). We attend the corporate gathering to glorify God and enjoy Him with our fellow believers. With sentiments positioned towards this truth we attend the service well prepared to participate in the fullness of true, heartfelt worship.


The other aspect of taking a deliberate approach to worship is engagement. This is what many of us think of when it comes to intentional worship. The primary way many congregants engage directly to the worship service is by singing. Yes, you certainly don’t have to be reminded of this, but let’s talk about the impact of singing for a second.


Joining in song as we praise God is a beautiful thing and if you have been a part of a congregation full of vocal members you know first hand how extremely impactful it is.. There’s a sense of connectedness amongst any body of believers as they truly sing and worship the Lord. If you’ve ever attended a church that plays music while the congregation simply whispers along, you know how awkward and even discouraging it can get at times. A balance and culture in the church where singing and praise is normalized and encouraged is special. This is not to negate the faithful attendee who, instead of singing loudly throughout the entire worship set, is ferociously and quietly praying. Our worship, no doubt, looks different across the board, but the thing we have in common is our shared desire to make much of Jesus in the Sunday setting.


All in all, if you’re inclined to sing, use Sunday as a time to rightfully prepare your heart to then make praise to God. Connect with God and God's people there in that moment, focus on the lyrics being sung, and praise the Lord who has been so gracious to give us the immeasurable blessings we experience day after day.

 

Pray Actively


“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

 

Prayer is a beautiful and intricate part of God’s ultimate plan of redemption. Similar to serving and worshiping, there are a multitude of examples in scripture calling us to pray. In a related article titled “The Christian Weapon”, I mentioned that it’s a privilege that God the Father, Son, and Spirit command us to engage in such a personal and intentional act (give it a read if you haven’t).


The great reformer Martin Luther so elegantly stated that “To be Christian without prayer is no more possible to be alive without breathing.” It’s not only essential to be active in prayer throughout the week, but as we gather with the saints on Sunday we should approach this practice with special intention. There are a number of ways to approach this, so let’s break it down.


First, quite literally, is to be active in prayer. Any standard, biblical worship service should include outward calls to participate in this act. Whether from your elders, worship leader, or specific prayer leaders, it is necessary for any Church that is longing to be faithful to engage in corporate prayer during the worship service. It’s cliche to say, but take this time and use it wisely. It’s the one day a week we are in the larger gathering of the congregation. This is a unique opportunity to give your heart, in prayer, to God in the midst of and on behalf of the gathered congregation.


Another way to actively participate on Sunday is to spend time in personal prayer. This differs from the time spent in devotion with the congregation. Many prayer leaders within a church will focus on a specific topic, but your personal prayer may be more planned and intimate.


The timing of this may differ from the congregational prayer as well. Many find themselves devoting time before or after the service in this regard. During the worship service is also a great time to take the music in while we engage in personal prayer. At the end of the day, we should find ourselves active in prayer throughout our time spent in Church each week. We’ll surely experience growth in faith while doing so.


One last note on the contents of our prayer - they are certainly the key ingredient to any intercession taken to God. Apart from the broader topics such as adoration, confession, thanksgiving, supplication, etc… It's essential to be intentional about who and what we pray for. Nothing’s wrong with thinking on the fly - but purposeful and premeditated devotion might very well produce greater fruits. Make a list, ask other members what prayer they are in need of, and do what you find necessary to make the most out of your time spent in devotion next Sunday.

 

All in all, our participation on a Sunday morning should be approached seriously and reverently. We are not merely spectators of the gathering, but living and breathing parts of the Body gathered and working together. Praise God for His calling us into His family. God help us do this well.


To glorify God and Enjoy Him forever.


SJB


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