Let’s be worshippers first
It’s important to prioritize being a worshipper in the worship service, even when we’re a church leader
If you have been in church ministry for any time at all, you know that Sunday worship services can be quite hectic. There are people to talk to, chairs to set up, meetings to prepare for, attendance to count, refreshments to prepare, and messes to clean up. However, an occupational hazard of being a leader at a church is that the worship service can become an event we put on for others rather than a time when we come humbly before God, sing heartfelt praises to him, confess and repent of sin, learn from God’s Word and apply it to our lives, and participate in the communion of the saints as fellow members of Christ’s body. If we are not careful, we can ironically miss our opportunity to fully participate in the body of Christ in the name of doing church ministry.
Be an active worshipper
One of the things I try to emphasize to our church planting team and volunteers is that once the worship service begins, we need to take off our church staff/volunteer hat and put on our church member hat. From the beginning to the end of service, we should be active, participating worshippers along with everybody else.
Those who help lead worship should sit with the rest of the congregation under the teaching of God’s Word during the sermon, not in another room or standing in the back waiting to play the next song. Those who preach should worship wholeheartedly together with the congregation before and after preaching, not simply thinking about the sermon they are about to give. If for some reason your serving prevents you from participating in the worship service (e.g., serving in the kids ministry classes during the service), avoid letting that happen every week.
The key to doing this well is preparation. As a preacher, my sermon can be completely ready to preach before Sunday. Those serving in hospitality or those who have other responsibilities can prepare what is needed ahead of time rather than doing those tasks “for the sake of the church” while the rest of the congregation is worshipping, praying, and learning together from God’s Word.
We are role models
Not only is this kind of active participation in worship needed for our own soul and discipleship, but as leaders, we teach and model to our congregation by how we worship. This is why, in our church, we expect our kids ministry volunteers to sit on the floor when the kids should be sitting, and jump up and down and be silly when the kids are supposed to jump up and down and be silly. Kids can learn to worship by watching their leaders and adults can too. If the congregation sees the church leaders running around doing tasks during the worship service and not fully participating with the rest of the body, it subtly communicates that church leaders are special and don’t need to fully engage in the worship gathering in the same way the rest of the church members do.
During our worship gatherings, as church planters and pastors and leaders within God’s church, let’s strive to be more like Mary who sat at Jesus’s feet listening to what he said, rather than like Martha who was distracted by all the preparations. For our own souls and Christian discipleship, and to model to our congregation what it means to be a part of the body of Christ, let’s be worshippers first.