Preparing to Experience (Part 1): Looking Sharp for Worship
Athletes never show up to a competition without making preparations. They have usually “watched film,” strategized about the game plan and practiced hard. Then game day approaches. Most athletes have pre-game routines. They could have a certain meal that they eat before a game like Wade Bogg’s chicken dinners. Maybe it’s a certain activity like Calvin Johnson’s yoga routine before game time. Or listening to certain music and envisioning on-the-field success. It’s all in an attempt to prepare their minds and bodies for their big day.
Maybe you’ve never ventured into a corporate worship gathering with the mentality of a prepared athlete. We’re hoping to improve your approach and help you be SHARP the next time you step into a corporate gathering, whether that’s Saturday, Sunday or whenever your local church family meets together.
A few years ago, Kerry and I developed a simple acrostic for our worship team:
Our goal was to encourage our worship teamers with the fact that so much more should go into preparing our hearts and minds for a corporate worship service. This doesn’t just affect people who volunteer on Sundays. We believe it pertains to really anyone who follows Jesus.
Kerry and I believe most people who come to church truly want to experience God’s beautiful design for our corporate gatherings. However, the day before our times of worship with the Body, we all typically sleep, respond to issues at work, handle screaming kids, participate in extracurricular activities, and attend anything from funerals to welcoming babies into the world. Oh goodness! And then here comes Sunday morning — often full of surprises. After we’ve stayed up late the night before, shoved breakfast at our kids and given our spouse “the look” because we’re probably running late, do we really mean the lyric “To You our hearts are open, nothing here is hidden” at 8:30 a.m.? Have we even caught our breath from sprinting through the doors?
In order to have a meaningful and truthful time of worship from the very first element of the service to the last, preparations must be made.
So what can we do? How can we prepare for Sunday?
Beginning the day before your corporate gathering (or honestly, making it a way of life), here’s how you can be S.H.A.R.P. for your church gathering:
- We must protect what we see – What goes in will affect what comes out. We have to be on guard and protect what we’re letting our eyes be exposed to. What social media excerpts, movies, TV shows, video games and more seep into our eyes before the big day? Many times we can’t quantify the effect these things have on our hearts and minds until we experience what it’s like to fill our minds with that which is true, honorable, right, pure, lovely, of good repute and anything worthy of praise (Phil. 4:8). Fill your mind with these things and watch how your preparation in this way will impact your experience in corporate worship.
- We must protect what we hear – What goes in will affect what comes out. What conversations are you exposing yourself to over the weekend with your friends? What musical artist are you listening to on your playlist? Is it something that stirs your affections toward God?
- We must also protect how we act – You can guarantee the way you treat your body is going to have an impact on your worship on the big day! Get to bed at a decent time. Don’t slam a bunch of crazy food or drink that’s going to affect your sleep or your faculties the next morning. Be alert! (1 Thessalonians 5:1-11)
- Do some reflecting – Part of our goal in worship is to remember all that God has done for us. That can mean writing down or giving him verbal thanks for the week’s or month’s events. You might take time to write down the things God wants you to confess. Another option for reflecting is to revisit what was preached the prior Sunday.
For our worship team, we also suggest that part of “reflecting” means mentally working through the elements of the service to make sure they know who’s doing what, when and where.
- Finally and most importantly, pray – No one can ever say too much about the importance of prayer, especially as it pertains to preparing our hearts for worship. Prayer has the power to transform our attitude and approach to the corporate gathering before we step foot in the church. If we were to submit ourselves to the Lord in prayer before our gathering, how might we encounter our Lord Jesus Christ, God the Father and His Holy Spirit? Here are some ideas to get you started: Confess sin to the Lord; ask the Lord to help you be patient and kind as you and your family get ready for the big day; ask the Lord to teach you something about who He is through the service. You can also pray for those who are leading the service, that the Spirit would speak through the teachers/leaders.
We have been leading worship in song for the last 16 years. There is a noticeable difference from the times we’ve made preparations for the corporate worship gathering and times when we haven’t. We don’t like encountering the latter.
So here’s our challenge to you: what if we all show up having made preparations and come expecting to hear from the Lord? What would we experience from Him?