Nearly every church bulletin advertises a morning worship service. How long has it been since you have actually taken part in a worship service? The average Sunday church service begins with people running to and fro trying to find a seat, many are late and many even come in after the service begins. Everyone is engaged in small talk and idle words. The auditorium buzzes with talk, laughter and a general commotion. There is a hymn announced, usually after a few empty words of greeting and praise for the good turnout. After the hymn whatever attitude of worship has been created through the hymn is interrupted by the Sunday School report or a list of announcements which are already printed in the bulletin and really concern few people. Another hymn is sung, and a brother is called upon to lead the congregation in prayer. If there have been thoughts of worship and spiritual concern generated, they are again side-tracked as the minister recognizes the visitors and prominent persons who have honored the Lord with their presence. Cards are passed out, signed and dropped in the plate. Once again, the congregation is called upon to recapture a spirit of worship as they are favored with a special number by a talented singer who is rarely there except when he performs. Then the message - but not just a word from God - even the message must be flavored and preceeded by a humorous story or a personal experience involving the preacher's personal life. Satan has a thousand subtle ways of keeping men from worshipping God. He usually employs dozens of them in the morning worship service.
I don't have all the answers but I do have some suggestions. "God is greatly to be feared in the assembly of the saints and to be had in reverence by all them that are about Him." Psa. 89:7
1. Arrive for the service a little early, spend the pre-service minutes in prayer, meditation and reading the scriptures.
2. Join heartedly in the song service, praising God with your lips and from your heart. A portion of God's Word should be read by the minister in every service.
3. Let the announcements, recognition of visitors, and reports be written in the bulletin or made after the services are concluded. We are there to praise God, to seek His face and to hear from Him - our worship services are not social gatherings.
4. Let our conversations after the service be with regard to the message or spiritual matters. Its a shame that so soon after the seed is sown that the birds of worldly interests are allowed to take it away.
5. Perhaps those who take part in the services, such as leading in prayer, reading scripture, or singing specials should be notified in advance that their hearts as well as their heads may be prepared.
6. We have found it beneficial and a blessing here for some of the men of the church to meet with the pastor twenty to thirty minutes before every service for scripture reading and prayer. This prepares us to enter the presence of the Lord.
Again, I repeat, I do not have the answers nor do I claim that our worship services are all that I would like them to be, but I'm frightened and disturbed, lest we continue down the present road of entertaining sinners, praising the flesh, promoting our organizations, socializing in the house of God and thus fail our generation! We pastors, elders and deacons have a solemn responsibility to lead our congregations in the worship of the Lord! If you can't worship God where you are, find a place where you can worship Him and hear His Word preached, even if it involves moving your family. I had rather my family do without some of the comforts of this world than to miss the comforts of eternal life.
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