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What's The Big Deal With The "Call to Worship"?

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A clock tells you what time it is. An alarm clock tells you that it's time to do something about it! In the same way, the "call to worship" is more than just a reminder that church starts at 10:00 am, or that you need to take a seat; the "call to worship" and the "benediction" serve as biblical and theological bookends to call and remind us of what we are about as believers in the Lord Jesus Christ, what we've come to do as we worship, and what our God ordained marching orders are by the grace of God.

The Ekklesia (gathering) and the "Call to Worship"

The gathering of the church is meant to shape our ordinary life – seeing God's grace through baptism, savoring reminders of His grace through the Lord's table, praying, preaching, singing, and reading biblical truths. But it is also true that ordinary life shapes our experience of the gathering. When tragedy strikes, when we encounter relational troubles, when we experience successes or blessings during our daily life, we carry those experiences into our “family worship”. But, through our corporate worship, the Lord prepares us as a church: how to endure, give grace, rejoice and weep with one another, preach Christ to the lost, persevere in trials, counsel, disciple, serve, and press on together in the rest of life. All of the preaching, singing, praying, and ordinances, prepare for these.

We gather not to escape burdens and guilt – these inevitably come with us. But we gather to join and submit our lives together, under God’s Word and His son, as we remember, recommit and are sent again into the world to reach the world.

And, this is exactly what the "call to worship" in corporate worship is! It begins with God calling us through His Spirit (in regeneration; 1 Peter 2:5), and bringing us into his ekklesia (a "called our congregation or assembly") to worship Him. It is only when we understand that our coming to Him is only possible through Him condescending to us, that we will truly appreciate the privilege we have to “proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called us out of darkness into His marvelous light” (2 Peter 2:9)

One pastor helpfully wrote:

"The church is the ekklesia, the “called out ones.” When we gather as God’s people we are being called away from other pursuits to worship God together in a specific place and time. We can worship God indirectly as we play soccer through good sportsmanship and serving others. But we worship him more directly on Sunday mornings as we gather to sing, pray, hear God’s Word preached, and share the Lord’s supper.

A call to worship...emphasizes the primacy of God’s Word, who has called us together, and what we’ve come to do.

The call to worship God can only come from God himself. Few things make that clearer than starting our meeting with Scripture."[1] 

What are we seeking to accomplish in the "Call to Worship"? 

First, it is to scripturally set the aim and purpose for the worship of God in our gathering. For us at GCBC, this usually revolves around the Biblical text that will be exposited that morning.

Second, the call to worship serves as a proclamation of who God is (fixes our attention on some glorious attribute of God; 1 Pet. 2:9), and our identity together (it highlights the corporate/family aspect of the gathering, and helps us fight against sinful individualism from the outset).

Third, the call to worship is a call to fitting responses and expressions of praise and adoration to the Savior, as revealed in God’s Word, who has called us by grace to worship Him.

Here’s an example from last Sunday:

“God calls us to worship him, not merely with outward forms of praise or worship, without an inner disposition to live rightly before God. Today we come to Him to worship because, in Christ, he has given what he commands.

Hear the Word of the Lord from Ezekiel 36:26-27, in light of what God has done for us: “I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. 27 And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules.”

As we come to worship, we come in obedience, to walk in his ways and his rules because he has given us new hearts that overflow in praise to him. Let’s do that today!”

Next time we’ll look at corporate prayer. What is it, why do we do it, and what is it accomplishing in the life of our church family? For now, praise God who has called us out of darkness, and calls us to proclaim him!

 

 

[1] Bob Kauflin, https://worshipmatters.com/2014/09/17/thoughts-on-a-call-to-worship/