As I reflect on my early years as a believer and a young pastor, I realize now how little I knew about worship. I think my worship would have been more focused and powerful had I known some of these things back then:
- Corporate worship really matters. COVID has reminded us of what we had taken for granted. The combined praises of God’s people are powerful, especially when we listen to each other worship.
- We waste a lot of time in worship services. The time-wasters, in fact, are numerous. Making churchwide announcements that apply to only one group. Preaching disorganized, rambling sermons. Talking too much between songs. I could go on and on. . . .
- Many hymns have great theology. As a younger leader, I grew weary with many hymns—but I judged them then more on their sing-ability than on their theology.
- Many praise choruses are straight from the Bible. I didn’t always recognize that fact, though, so I missed out on the connection with the Word.
- We who were raised on the repetition of “Do Lord, oh do Lord, oh do remember me” probably shouldn’t get stressed about repetitive choruses today. I’m not arguing for weak choruses; I’m simply saying that we’ve dealt with similar issues in the past.
- It’s okay to raise your hands to praise God in worship. I realize others may differ with me here, but I’ve grown comfortable with worshiping physically and publicly while also praying I not draw attention to myself (I trust).
- The worship event ought to be the culmination of our turning our heart to God—not the first step in that direction. If we wait until the worship service to get right with God, we’ll miss much of the point of worship: simply honoring Him as holy. Worship ought to be ongoing even before we gather with believers.
- It doesn’t take much to distract us during a worship service. I’m not surprised, as I know the enemy doesn’t want us to worship—but I still see churches building into their service things that are more distracting than helpful.
- Whether or not I truly worshipped God will become evident after the actual worship service. There was a time when I evaluated worship on its emotional appeal during the event; now, I know that genuine worship transforms lives long beyond the service itself.
- I may be the preacher, but I’m not the star. I cringe when I think of my ego as a young preacher, and I grieve the battle is still real at times. I constantly need this reminder to get out of the way.
What do you wish you had known earlier about worship?