The Worship Service: 8 Ways To Engage God
By Advait Praturi
1. When the music is playing, adore God.
God enjoys and responds to music and song (2 Chronicles 5:12-13), but the music and singing can also help us focus our praise and adoration on God. We may come in from such different experiences, sometimes we feel burdened and hurt and other times, we feel joyful and expectant. Whatever attitude we may bring to the service, music and singing gives us the opportunity to put God back at the centre, and an atmosphere allows us to do just that. , Adoration requires us to actively participate in singing or to actively declare in our minds and hearts that God deserves all our attention. As we do that, our minds and hearts begin to sense more of God.
2. Actively listen to the sermon, and take notes.
God uses the sermon to:
A. Reveal the truth of the gospel,
B. Open our eyes to the reality of our need for Him,
C. Reveal His grace to fulfill that need, and
D. Call us to a place of surrender, in which He lovingly meets our needs and is glorified.
Throughout the sermon, we should listen for these things. We should be thinking, “How have I fallen short of what the word is calling me to? What is God revealing to me in this falling short? How should I plan to receive His grace to change this? How can I apply what is being said to my life right now? How can I get closer to God today?”
It’s difficult to remember every aspect of a sermon. Usually, we’ll remember the overall point and one or two things in the sermon that really stand out to you. Take a moment to note it down – whether on your phone or your journal. When you have time later, go back and think about it. The Holy Spirit could use those words to tell you something in particular.
3. Think about the gospel while taking communion.
When we turn away from God and decide to live life on our own terms, that’s acting out of our default position of self-centeredness. The consequence of our selfishness is ultimately eternal separation from God. But Jesus took the punishment of our selfishness onto Himself so we could be with Him for all eternity. That means we belong to God and God has adopted us into His family, all because of what Jesus did. When we take communion, we remember that we get all the benefits and blessings the New Covenant promises us, because Jesus took the cost and punishment of our imperfections and selfishness onto Himself. Because of His work, we are now God’s children and nothing can ever change that.
As we take part in what is really a sacred meal: the Lord’s Supper or communion, we are called to focus our hearts and minds on remembering the covenant, and what it cost Jesus to make. As Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 11, “28 Everyone ought to examine themselves before they eat of the bread and drink from the cup. 29 For those who eat and drink without discerning the body of Christ eat and drink judgment on themselves.”
Before you eat the bread and drink the wine/juice, take time to think about what the communion symbolizes and what God is inviting you to give up, to truly embrace that moment with Him.
4. Spend time with other people after the service.
If you’re an introvert (like I am), the last thing you want to do is hang out with people after the service. But it’s easy to see that God desires His people to be in fellowship – and that means celebrating together. Throughout the scriptures, people bonded over food and drinks. From the time of Nehemiah to the days of the church in Corinth, food was an important part of getting to know one another. God’s plan has always been to use people in the community to reveal His love and His affection for us.
We should let ourselves be accepted and loved by God in and through community.
5. Share a learning/experience with at least one other person.
One of the fastest ways to learn something is by teaching it to someone else. When we teach something, we’re forced to articulate it in the best way possible. That gets us thinking critically until we’ve figured out all the main points. So we should plan to tell someone else what we’ve learned that Sunday. You can do this over lunch or coffee on Sunday, on the phone later, or in your small group later in the week. Even more than that, if we’re grounded in understanding now, we can “preach” into our own lives when we need to be reminded of the gospel later on.
6. Pray with another person after the service.
Sometimes, the sermon just cuts right through to the heart, and that leads us to a deep place of God-centered conviction. We do ourselves an injustice if we walk away from that experience alone. If you ever find yourself in that place, find someone you trust, and ask them to pray with you. More often than not, you’ll find that people will love to hear you out and pray for you.
If you’re more outgoing, offer to pray for someone. Many times, people would like prayer and someone to talk to, but they feel like they’re being a burden. That’s actually not true. Sometimes, it helps to take a first step in reaching out to others.
7. Offer to serve – for the set-up, tear down or the proceedings of the worship service.
“The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve…” from Mark 10:45 is a powerful line. Jesus, who is described as the Great King, the Son of God, the Creator of the Universe, chose to become a man and serve regular people. Even though God deserves to be served, He chose to serve others. If we are to follow Jesus, we are called to the same lifestyle.
Paul exhorts us to constantly put one another’s interests above our own. If we really want to fellowship with Jesus and know Him intimately, then we must do what He did. Serving others is one of the best ways to experience God’s love.
8. Give with gladness and generosity - that's how God gives.
Giving financially can be a touchy subject. On one end, pastors are afraid to talk about it and a lot of congregation members don’t want it talked about. On the other end, pastors can go beyond scripture in pressuring people to give money through inducing guilt and shame. But neither of those is right.
God will provide for the church whether you give or not, but He does want to use the call to offering to set you free from your anxiety, fear of abuse and stressful need for control that you may feel when called to give tithes and offerings. He wants you to live in joyful confidence of His provision for you. Yes, He wants us to experience conviction, but no, He doesn’t want us to live in guilt and shame. Cheerful giving is the main prerequisite for giving – for a reason. If our hearts aren’t giving cheerfully, God gives us an opportunity to catch ourselves in that moment and go immediately to His loving embrace.
Also, for those of us who give without thinking too much about it, let’s actually be mindful of it. Whenever the call for offering happens, let’s actually be prayerful through the whole process and position our hearts in thanksgiving for God’s continuous provision.
Our God is a giver – and giving of ourselves with our money, time and energy allows us an opportunity to actually fellowship with Jesus and experience His joy.
The Worship Service is a Two-Way Street
Imagine a meeting where only one person does all the talking, and the other person just sits there absent-mindedly. Not fun. Living in the New Covenant means that God is now in relationship with us. God saturates the room with his presence when we gather, and we are called to engage with Him, speak with Him, adore Him, tell Him how much we love Him, listen to Him and bask in Him.
The worship service is an opportunity to place God in His rightful position – at the centre of our lives. Let’s be mindful and be present during service, and let’s do this!