When you’re in ministry, Sunday can be the least worshipful day of the week.
It shouldn’t be that way–but sometimes it is. When Sunday is a workday, it can be difficult to enter into worship. And let’s face it–for ministry families, Sundays are workdays whether you are the one behind the podium or not. Sunday mornings are filled with getting the kids ready and out the door on time, reviewing notes for your sermon, Bible study lesson, or worship set, and remembering the list of people you need to talk to, prayer requests to keep track of, and helping Mrs. Schultz find her missing keys (again). Tuning out the distractions to focus on worship can be like trying to pick a single snowflake out of a snowstorm.
But it can be hard to worship on Sundays for other reasons. Maybe your congregation is going through a season of conflict that has left you beaten up and broken down. Maybe you’re walking through your own struggle with grief, burnout, or depression. Maybe it feels like the sky is granite and your prayers are thudding on the floor. But for whatever reason, lifting your voice in praise on Sunday morning feels like holding up the sky.
Worship should come naturally. But it doesn’t always come easily. Still, there are steps we can take as ministers and ministry leaders to make sure that Sunday is what it should be: offering our worship as both sacrifice and celebration.
Keep your Sundays worshipful by:
1. Keeping your week worshipful.
Our corporate worship on Sunday is both a rehearsal for the week to come and the culmination of the week just gone by. Our Sunday worship is a chance for us to gather with God’s people and garner strength for the challenges we will face as we go about our kingdom work. But it is also a celebration of what God has already done. If we want to worship at 11:00 a.m. on Sunday morning, we also need to worship at 5:00 p.m on Friday and 6:00 a.m. Tuesday morning and every hour of our week. Worship needs to become part of our life rhythm, the music that inspires the choreography of our steps. Those of us on the frontlines of ministry need to keep our devotional lives fresh and rich. We must dedicate ourselves to Scripture and to prayer. But we must also dedicate ourselves to worship. If you’re struggling with keeping Sundays worshipful, build times of private worship into your week. Sing songs. Dance in praise. Read the Psalms aloud. But find some way to privately declare God’s worth and splendor. The time you invest in private worship will overflow into your public praise.
2. Eliminating distractions.
Why is it that our weekday morning routines run smooth as silk, but then on Sunday morning the wheels fall off? Shoes are missing, the car won’t start, alarm clocks don’t go off, and the microphone that worked perfectly Saturday night squawks like an angry chicken. Satan loves to steal our worship, and he takes whatever tiny cracks of opportunity we leave and then drive a semi through them. So do what you can to close up those cracks. Lay out clothes and track down missing shoes on Saturday evening. Get your church bag ready, have extra batteries stashed away, and have keys, cell phone, Bible and all other essentials laid out ready to go. At church, eliminate some of the brain fog by asking people to write down their prayer requests and other information so you don’t have to try to remember it later. If possible, have someone run interference for you so you aren’t interrupted with complaints or minor details right before you preach. Eliminating distractions can help you stay focused on worship.
3. Preparing your heart.
For a season, I prayed over our sanctuary every Saturday. I walked through the pews, praying for the people who would sit in each seat. I stood on the stage and prayed for the praise team and for my husband as he preached. I prayed over the decisions that would be made at the altar, and I spent quiet time simply sitting, asking God to make his presence known as we gathered in worship. I discovered that the time I spent praying for our church also prepared my heart to experience God in worship. Now that we no longer live next door, I don’t physically walk through the sanctuary every week. But I still spend time on Saturday evening praying for our congregation as we meet to worship. That time in prayer helps me prepare my heart to worship.
4. Focusing on Jesus.
Worship is not about our circumstances. Worship is about our Creator. One of my favorite descriptions of worship is found in Revelation 4. The passage describes God seated on his throne, surrounded by worship. Twenty-four elders lay their crowns at his feet and say, “You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being (Revelation 4:11). Worship is about declaring God’s worth. The churches who first read Revelation needed the reminder. They were dealing with social, economic, and political persecution. Some had already been martyred. And they had conflicts within the churches themselves–conflicts like sexual immorality, legalism, moral compromise, and false teaching. But through John’s vision, God reminded them of his all-surpassing worth. Our circumstances do not alter God’s worth. When the struggles of life or the pain of ministry gets in the way of our worship, we need to remember that the Lamb is worthy of our praise. No matter what else is going on in our lives, Jesus deserves our worship. Fix your eyes on him.
I pray that as you gather with the body of believers this Sunday, you will experience the joy of true worship. How do you keep Sundays worshipful?
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