Most Christians attend church not with an attitude of contributing but with the purpose of getting as much out of the service as they possibly can. In keeping with that mindset, pastors and worship leaders are expected to see that all the components of the service flow together cohesively and meaningfully. “That’s the pastor’s job!” If something goes wrong, the pastor or worship leader gets the blame, and both are likely to hear about it. The weight of the responsibility for the service is thus seen to fall on the shoulders of those on the platform, and the individual in the congregation is relatively free from feeling any responsibility for the service. But if we truly believe that all Christians are active members of the New Testament priesthood – that all of us are ministers before and unto the Lord – then we must begin to accept the proper responsibility for our role as ministers in the congregation.
Responsibility of the Individual Worshiper
1. Minister unto the Lord.
The first and foremost responsibility of every worshipper is to minister unto the Lord.
Psalm 150:1 (KJV)
“Praise ye the LORD. Praise God in his sanctuary: praise him in the firmament of his power.”
“Praise ye the LORD…” the responsibility to praise and worship does not rest on the pastor or the worship leader; it is your responsibility, it is my responsibility (as an individual), the responsibility of each person to offer up an individual “sacrifice of praise” to the Lord. Far too often we come to church and see what we can get. It is time we come to church to see what we can give. We should be eager and excited to minister back to the Lord in worship. This is our action; to love on the Lord. Tell Him how good He is. Thank Him for who He is and what He has done in your life. Tell Him of His greatness.
2. Prepare ourselves for worship.
Staying up late Saturday night and watching a “horror flick” is not a good way to prepare for Sunday worship. Try to get to bed at a decent hour if possible on Saturday night’s. On Sunday mornings spend some time thinking about God and possibly in prayer before you come to church on Sunday mornings (even if it is in the shower). We want to come with hearts already in tune to the Spirit of God.
Sometimes I feel like I am your cheerleader encouraging you to enter into praise and worship. It shouldn’t take the second or third song during worship before you enter in. You should be ready to enter in to worship even before you come to church, so when it is time to corporately enter in to praise and worship you are hungry for it.
One excellent way to prepare for worship is to deal with any known sin in your life before you get to service. If, at the outset of the service we are trying to come into right relationship with God, we can lose precious moments that could have been spent in vibrant praise and worship. Or if we try to sweep that sin under the carpet, and not deal with it, we will not find a full release in worship.
Do you wonder why you struggle in praise and worship? Do you feel like God is far away? Maybe you need to check your heart and see if there is any thing like attitudes, or issues that prevent you from entering into God’s presence. Again… this is YOUR responsibility as a worshiper.
3. Invest ourselves in prayer for the service ahead of time.
Dr. Judson Cornwall has said that prayer is to the believer as communication is to a marriage – absolutely vital. He defines prayer as communication with God and suggests that the prayerless saint will never be a worshiper.
Jesus gave us a principle that applies here:
“For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”
If we invest ourselves diligently in prayer for the worship service, we will be amazed at our level of concern for and participation in the service. If we spend quality time praying for the service, we will be eager to see a return on that investment and will be ready to become involved to help make it a glorious time.
4. Frequent the place of worship.
Hebrews 10:25 (CEV)
“Some people have gotten out of the habit of meeting for worship, but we must not do that. We should keep on encouraging each other, especially since you know that the day of the Lord’s coming is getting closer.”
We live in a self-confident society. People make excuses for not coming to church and think they are okay. I have even heard people say, “I am not backsliding” when it comes to not coming. Listen, develop a love for God’s house and His people. I can’t wait to get to church and be a part of the service. I enjoy seeing you all and fellowshipping with you. I come excited to see what God is going to do in all of our lives.
People can get out of the habit of coming to church. We need to get in the habit of coming. Great things happen in the house of God.
We all need the strength and encouragement we receive by fellowshipping with other in the body of Christ. Individually we are only small members in the body; by ourselves, cut off from that body, we will die spiritually.
An arm can’t decide, “Well, I don’t need to go be a part of the body today, I think I will go and do something else. No, that would never happen, yet that is exactly what happens with us. We decide we were at church last week and don’t need to come two weeks in a row so we stay home and watch T.V. or something else. Soon, we miss another Sunday, and then another Sunday until we are not going to church all together. Don’t let this be you. Guard against this. This is exactly what the devil wants to happen with you. Be aware of this and set your mind ahead of time to go to church. I can’t imagine missing a service. In fact, it pains me when I am gone. Let’s develop a love for God’s house, which is God’s people, that won’t be shaken.
We must come into God’s presence by offering up a sacrifice of praise, and we should be prepared to reach out in ministry to other brothers and sisters as the Holy Spirit would divinely direct us.
5. Be self-motivated in our praise and worship.
A worshiper worships at every given opportunity and does not demand some horizontal stimulus from the pastor or worship leader before entering into praise. (Smile) Be ready to worship. Have a hunger for God. Show you love the Lord by volunteering to enter in to worship. Your level of worship and how you enter in reflects your walk with God did you know that. If your walk is shallow and indifferent, so will your worship be.
Psalm 145:1 – 3 Amp
“I will extol You, my God, O King and I will bless Your name forever and ever [with grateful, affectionate praise]. Every day [with its new reasons] will I bless You [affectionately and gratefully praise You]. yes, I will praise Your name forever and ever. Great is the Lord and highly to be praised; and His greatness is [so vast and deep as to be] unsearchable.”
David wrote this and he was a worshipper. He knew how to encourage himself in the Lord and we can do the same thing. Allow worship to become a part of your everyday life.
6. Enter readily and wholeheartedly into the praises of God.
Far too many of us are “slow starters” on Sunday morning.
We are like a cold engine on a wintry morning, and I feel like the driver of an old classic car trying to get the thing started by cranking up the engine. Crank it up – a few sputters – then nothing. Crank it again – sputter, cough, sputter, – it dies. Crank it one more time – and finally something seems to “take” and the engine starts.
New sports cars are sometimes rated according to how quickly they accelerate: “zero to fifty in 8.6 seconds.” I wonder how our services might be rated on a similar scale: “zero to fifty in twenty-five to thirty minutes.”
We are to do more than just sing songs. The Psalms exhort us to “sing praise unto God.” Just because we are singing songs, doesn’t mean we are singing praise or truly worshiping. It is possible for us to sing without having our hearts in it at all. Our responsibility is to get our hearts engaged. When you really want to see someone you will make every effort to make it happen. How hungry for God are you? How passionate for Your Savior, the Lover of your soul are you? Don’t allow praise and worship to just be lip service.
When we first come before the Lord, that is not the time to spew out all our problems and cares upon Him. What a terrible way for God to have to start the service! When we first come in, we are to put aside those concerns, block out all the emotional upheavals of the week, put on a garment of praise, put a smile on our faces, and lift up our hearts in thanksgiving and praise to God!
7. Worshiping despite distractions.
How easy it is to blame others for our lack of praise!
-“The worship leader just isn’t flowing with the Spirit of God today!”
-“What’s the pastor doing – she doesn’t look like she’s enjoying the worship service at all.”
-“My, that was a sour note on the piano!”
-“The drums are too loud!”
-“The drums are too quiet!”
-“Why do we always sing the chorus over and over again?”
-“The guitar is too loud!”
-“They never sing the songs I like!”
-“They don’t sing hymns.”
-“I am not a “music person” so I don’t worship.”
-“The people around me are not worshipping so why should I?”
-“This worship leader obviously doesn’t know what she is doing!”
There are “a thousand and one” reasons why we do not praise God. But the responsibility to praise must inevitably return upon us. God never told us to praise “if you like the style of the worship leader” or “when a song you really like comes along.” What does Scripture say?
“I will bless the LORD at all times!”
Even when the worship leader is off key, the pianist does not know the song, and the drummer is too harsh. This comes as an injunction to all of us as worshipers: we must not allow ourselves the luxury of becoming distracted by the sincere but faltering efforts of the musicians or leader. We may be very accurate in our analysis of their deficiencies, but we will rob ourselves of the privilege of blessing the Lord.
Other distraction might be, “Oh, I have to go to the bathroom” and it has been your seventh trip already since you came to church. May be you are allowing your mind to wonder and don’t focus it back on God. Maybe you go and get a cup of coffee? Or, even worse, you are on your smartphone on Facebook or playing a game on your phone instead of putting it away and focusing on God?
8. Be worshipers all week long.
A true worshiper does not enjoy worshiping only on Sunday in the congregation; their life is a continual praise and worship unto God 24/7. Once we have learned that life of worship throughout the week, it is easy to come together in the congregation and praise Him.
When worshipers assemble, the praise ascends immediately. If the level of praise in our congregation is poor, we can be sure the problem is that the people have not learned to live a life of praise throughout the week. We have been called to more than “just visiting” the house of the Lord.
It is easy to confuse worshiping with being a worshiper. Just because someone worships, it does not necessarily follow that he or she is a worshiper. Virtually anyone can worship as the occasion might demand, but relatively few seem to manifest the life-style of a worshiper. When God asks us to be worshipers every day, He is not asking us to do nothing but sing songs all week. He knows we must do other things besides vocalize our worship. But God does ask us to live a life consistent with that of a worshiper seven days a week. Once we adopt that life-style, we will find a song of praise frequently welling up from within. We will begin to realize that everything we do truly constitutes an act of worship unto the Lord, for our daily activities are but an expression of our dedication to God.
Someone has said, “Don’t ‘lip’ it unless you live it.” We all fall short of God’s ideal from time to time. We do not wait to praise God until we are living a perfect Christian life, or else none of us would ever praise. But as we confess the Lord with our mouth, our life slowly comes into line with that confession.
“Your walk talks, and your talk walks,
but your walk talks further than your talk walks.”
Worship God through your love for Him. Worship God because He sent His Son to set your free to worship! He rescued you. You are a new creation. You are brand new. Your old life has passed away and behold all things are new. Fresh and new. You still have the price tag on you! Make God your everything and you will find you can’t help but worship Him.
May intimacy of our worship break chains in our life! May it open the heavens and we experience God’s kingdom on earth. May we break forth into joy the sets others free. May we see beyond ourselves and minister back to our Creator. We are filled with God’s presence when we worship. We are free!
From one worshiper to another,
Pastor Kris Belfils
Some of the material provided in this article is from: Exploring Worship: A Practical Guide to Praise & Worship, By Bob Sorge