By Scott Patty
Come, let us worship and bow down; let us kneel before the Lord our Maker. For he is our God, and we are the people of his pasture, the sheep under his care (Psalm 95:6-7, CSB).
One of the main—but often neglected—congregational ministries that pastors struggle to engage in is the singing and praying portion of the Sunday worship service.
Pastors who are called to preach the word every Sunday belong to the people of God. They’re sheep under God’s care who are to bow down to Him in worship.
The corporate nature of this psalm tells us that pastors are to worship God with their congregations each Lord’s Day.
Pastors should avail themselves of the same means of grace they help to provide their congregations. This includes prayer meetings, small groups for mutual discipleship, and accountability to other leaders.
The Sunday worship service is the priority event of the congregation. This weekly gathering provides us the opportunity to carry out the main functions of the church.
We praise and pray, confess and renew, and evangelize and edify. Seeing each other face to face gives us an opportunity for mutual care and discipleship.
Pastors are called to preach. This is how they serve the congregation.
But is it possible, that like distracted Martha who complained about her sister sitting at the feet of Jesus, pastors are serving at the expense of worshipping?
Many pastors find it hard to engage in worship through singing because they are so focused on serving through preaching.
I believe it’s possible for pastors to preach and actually engage in worship on Sundays.
We don’t have to be so focused on the sermon we are about to preach that we can’t sing and pray with the congregation. We shouldn’t neglect these aspects of worship as if we don’t need them.
We can, and should, worship the Lord together.
Here are five reasons I make worshipping with the congregation I serve a priority.
1. Because I’m first and foremost a Christian who is saved by grace to worship God.
The 72 disciples of Jesus returned from their preaching mission and reported all the good things that happened, including how demons were subject to Jesus’ name.
Jesus affirmed their ministry, but told them to rejoice that their names are written in heaven.
Leaders, we preach and carry out many acts of ministry in our congregations. But we should rejoice more in the fact that we are saved by grace than when we preach a good sermon.
When the grace of Christ captures our hearts, we will worship, and worship will help our minds and hearts savor His grace.
2. Because I’m called to worship God as a member of my congregation.
We can come to see ourselves as professionals leading organizations rather than members of the family of God and parts of the congregations we serve.
If you weren’t tasked to preach and lead your congregation, and you didn’t receive income from doing so, you’d still be called by God to be a faithful church member.
So, be one as a paid leader. Faithful church members not only attend the Sunday worship service, they sing, pray, and respond to God’s word in faith. Join them.
3. Because I need to worship for my own soul.
We tell the people in our congregations that they’ll benefit spiritually by singing, praying, and hearing the word. What’s true for them is true for us.
Constant service can drain our souls. We can become insensitive to the very Word we preach. We can become unresponsive to grace. Taking time to worship at the feet of Christ with his people restores our souls.
If you’re weary in well-doing, ask yourself if you’re actually engaging in corporate worship. Take note of the state of your mind during the worship service.
Are you overly focused on how things are being done, or on your sermon notes? If so, you may not be taking in the wonders of the gospel and expressing true praise back to God.
You may not be caring for you own soul. Bring your mind and heart with your body to the worship service.
4. Because we need to worship together.
I need to worship with my congregation, and my congregation needs to worship with me. Together we encourage one another with psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs.
Each Sunday, before I preach, I sit in a seat that allows me to easily turn my head to one side and see a large portion of the congregation. I hear them sing to the Lord. I suspect the congregation can see me, too. I’m edified by this practice.
Worship isn’t about being seen by others, but our faith is encouraged by the sight and sound of people worshipping the Lord.
When we know that others who’ve struggled all week with trials and temptations are now gathered to praise God for His keeping grace, we gain hope.
When we hear the sick still singing to the Healer and the weak still calling out to the Rock of our salvation, we sense that we, too, can keep going.
As we see our brothers and sisters committing themselves to the glory of God we are provoked to love and good deeds. This is the power of corporate worship.
There’s a difference between worshipping to be seen by others, and being encouraged by seeing others worship. Watch your congregation worship, and let them see you give praise to the Lord.
5. Because worshipping with my congregation helps me preach to them.
I sometimes enter the chapel on Sunday mornings tired, nervous, and distracted. As a human, I bring my emotional self to church. Sometimes I’m not very sensitive to the souls before whom I will stand and preach.
I’ve prepared my sermon, but my heart needs a work of grace. So often, that work comes from singing songs that tell me of Christ, from hearing passages of Scripture read that exalt Him, and from calling upon his name with the congregation.
I’m prepared to preach by worshipping with my congregation.
Pastors, we have this treasure in clay jars. God can fill our human selves with faith, hope, and love to preach with power and grace. He does this as we worship with his people before we preach to them.
This Sunday, “Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise” (Psalm 100, CSB).
SCOTT PATTY is the pastor of Grace Community Church in Brentwood, Tennessee, and is the author of Words of Grace: A 100-Day Devotional.