Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Effectively & Maximally Utilizing the Weekly ‘Preparation for Worship’ Email
Geoffrey R. Kirkland
Christ Fellowship Bible Church

NOTE: I understand that not all local churches have a weekly 'Preparation-For-Worship' email that is sent out. This is particularly geared for the saints at Christ Fellowship Bible Church (St Louis) where this is the case. And this is a pastoral encouragement to take that email and utilize it effectively.

At Christ Fellowship Bible Church in St Louis, Missouri, we send out a ‘Preparation for Corporate Worship’ email usually on Thursday or Friday to the congregation to aid them in preparing for worship for the upcoming Sunday gathering. 

Consider, bread bakes quicker when the oven is warm. Imagine if our hearts were warmed by prayer, bible reading, meditation, and anticipation when we arrived for corporate worship! How much more could we glean?

Preparation. We all get it. You prepare for a math quiz. You prepare for a annual budget meeting. You prepare for your appointment with the business client who is in town. You prepare for the presentation you have to give at the convention in the near future. We even prepare early for the football games that we attend. We all prepare for things. We get this.

How much could the church of the Lord Jesus Christ exponentially grow if we deliberately and devotionally prepared for the corporate worship gatherings?

In this message, I want to provide 7 suggestions that the Christ Fellowship Bible Church congregation can consider in utilizing in the preparation for worship email to the maximum.

1. Pray specifically. — This may seem obvious, but let me state it just in case. The most powerful instrument available to us in our preparation for, presence during, and application following corporate worship is fervent, persistent, believing, specific prayer. Yes, pray ahead of time and the more specific you can be in your praying, the better.

2. Read carefully.  — Since the habit at Christ Fellowship is to preach verse-by-verse through books of the Bible, this is usually quite simple to follow, but you can read the text that will be preached for the upcoming Sunday. Read it thoughtfully. Read it slowly. Read it prayerfully. Read it devotionally. Read it studiously. Read it worshipfully.  Even consider reading the public reading of Scripture text that will be preached (often we read through a Psalm or another portion of Scripture at the beginning of the worship gathering).

3. Sing carefully.  —  Take special note of the songs that'll be sung. Consider picking one, or two, or all of them (if you have the time) and ponder the lyrics and sing them & think of the theology, Scriptures that it points to and brings to mind.

Consider doing numbers 1-3 together with your family in ‘family worship’ on, say, Saturday evening or Sunday morning. O imagine the blessing and preparedness when the entire family comes to corporate worship having prayed specifically, read the Word carefully, and sung the songs thoughtfully! What a blessing that’d be! And what an example that would set for the children!

4. Arrive early.  —  Consider arriving early to serve, set up, meet folks, extend a hand of greeting. Make it your goal to seek to pray with & encourage one person. Rather than coming at the moment of the start of church (or, worse, 15 minutes late!), leave earlier and arrive earlier so as to edify the saints and then be in your seat for a few moments before the service begins to quiet your heart, ask for the Spirit to give you focus, careful attention to Truth, and a worshipful gaze upon Christ throughout the entirety of the gathering!

5. Serve proactively.  —  In the emails, we list a number of things going on that upcoming week (or, in the near future). So, find a ministry going on, or an event, or an evangelism outing and seek to participate in it. Indeed, if you can’t attend it, pray for it. Consider attending and meeting folks and encouraging them in the ministry. Consider serving in a care group. Consider giving folks a ride if that’s a need.

6. Read broadly.  —  In the emails we send out, there are usually about 4-6 resource links at the bottom of the email for further reading and study on a given topic -- bible knowledge, theology, biography, biblical counseling, Christian living, etc. So, find just one article & then read it carefully and enhance your theological, practical, counseling understanding. Or, read them all if you're able and have the time! Maybe print them out and put them in the car and if you have a few minutes here or there, pull one out and read it. If you’re early for a lunch appointment or waiting for a meeting to begin, read through one of the articles. These are carefully selected to encourage you and bless you and guide you in the ways of truth so we grow in thinking biblically.

7. Encourage thoughtfully. —  Dear flock, you see who is serving! You observe what's going on! You notice who will be preaching. Consider this as a pastoral suggestion: make it a point to weekly approach one person and specifically encourage them. Don’t flatter them (there’s a difference!). Glorify God by affirming what God is doing through that person for the benefit of the flock (or, you personally!). What would happen if the Savior graciously cultivated in us an encouraging, affirming, upbuilding culture of love!

In conclusion, these 7 suggestions are ways to incorporate the Preparation for Worship email that it sent to you each week and to use it well. This is a guide to the preparation guide! May the Lord help us to deliberately prepare for worship to devotionally grow in His Word, and to delightfully magnify the Savior as we emulate Him, worship Him, and love His redeemed people!


Unknown said...

Pastor Geoff,
Thank you for this post to help us prepare for Sunday worship. Your weekly Preparation emails have encouraged me repeatedly and challenged me to approach Sunday worship more reverently. The links expose me to other resources and broaden my range of reading and thought. I'm not always diligent to read through the Bible passage and hymns ahead of time and then I know I've lost out. But when I do it provides worship time in days before Sunday and enhances singing in the worship service.
Grateful for your shepherding,

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