Thursday, October 2, 2014

How do we participate in Worship II

In my last post  , I explained a little bit about worship in church and why we do it.  I would like to give four tips that have really helped me to grow in my congregational worship.  I don't explain these as rules that must be followed, but rather as methods that have helped me to more expressively worship God.
  1. Sing Loud.  Yes, actually singing the words out loud is something that helps me to worship God expressively. It connects the words on the screen and in my head to my heart as I physically sing the words. The good news for me and for many of you is that God doesn't care about the quality of our singing! So, I sing loud and (probably) badly for the Lord.  God cares about your heart and mind being engaged, which is why I think we should sing loud as a congregation.  I also believe that singing is a way for me to agree and say "Yes" to the truths that are being displayed on the screen.
  2. Close your eyes. Like I said above, there are many distractions that happen at church. People are coming in late, moving around, there might be something distracting with one of the worship team members, you might want to check your cellphone, and a whole host of other things which can be distracting.  I find that I can concentrate more on the words when my eyes are closed.  You don't have to have the songs always memorized either.  What I often do that helps is that as I'm looking at a song I'm not familiar with, I just capture one line of the song at a time, and then I close my eyes as I'm singing.  I reopen my eyes for the second line to put that line in my short-term memory and then I close them to concentrate on the words of the song and to keep from being distracted.  By repeating this process, I find myself far more engaged in the worship than by having my eyes openedClosing my eyes is a great way to focus on the Lord during worship and not think about everything else that is going on.
  3.  Use my body.  Yes, this can be hard for many of us, because we associate church with being still and having a somber mood.  However, using our body in our worship to God is entirely biblical.  The entire book of Psalms includes raising our hands, bowing heads, shouting and dancing to the Lord, among many other postures toward God.  Like I said previously, if we can jump up and down for something as transient as a football game, then certainly we should be physically involved in our worship.  It's not to make a show or to act crazy, but to give ourselves more fully to God.  I often lift my hands in worship as a sign of surrender to God, exactly because I feel more vulnerable with my hands up.  It shows that I want God to be in control of my life, not myself.  I clap because I'm excited about whatever the song is exclaiming, whether it's celebrating God's love or demonstrating his power to break sin in our lives.  We should use our "members for God as instruments for righteousness."  
  4. Sing your own song.  Often during worship, there are breaks between the verses and the chorus, or at the bridge, or between songs in general.  I believe that creates some down time during worship when we are not singing.  However, I don't want be just staring at the worship team or impatiently waiting for the next song.  I try to use that time to make my own song to Jesus.  Like I said, I'm not a good singer and I'm not very creative, but I am using that time to sing to God, thanking him for all his blessings or asking Him for help in various areas of my life.  I believe this is also a very heartfelt sign of worship, because it's me directly engaging with God and not just following the worship team.  Often I do this out loud, but sometimes I softly sing to myself.  I believe this also creates love and fuels our desire for God.

    I hope these have been helpful in your desire to worship the living God and I pray that we would all become more God-centered in our worship and singing.

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