Corporate Worship as Service and Sacrifice
"Is there anything I can do to serve this Sunday?"
That's a great question, and one that I have been asked over and over during this unique time in our church's life. The reason it is unique and different at this moment, is because many of the usual opportunities to "do something" (on Sunday, in particular) have changed, and can seem not quite so obvious. Our church is meeting (mostly) outdoors right now, and our services are roughly an hour. But just because less time is spent formally in a service together, and fewer classes and regularly scheduled events are taking place, doesn’t mean that ministry opportunities are fewer – in fact, they may be even more abundant than before (you know…like back in March before the plague hit). We just have to prepare for them.
So, the answer to the question, “is there anything I can do to serve this Sunday?” is, “yes!” And, here are a bunch of ideas that maybe you've not thought of recently, that will help re-orient your mind and ready your hands for service as we passionately seek to "do the work of ministry" (Eph. 4:12) together again this Sunday – as a launch pad in to a week of loving care for one another. (Note: many of these encouragements come from growing convictions that I want to excel in! Won’t you join me in growing in them?).
- Ask God to grant you open eyes and ears for people who are hurting and discouraged (Rom. 12:15), and be ready to listen and comfort from God’s Word.
- Have your newcomer antenna up looking for new faces, ready to greet a guest or visitor – warm hospitality melts down walls of nervousness that a newcomer may have, and puts the love of God on display, who welcomes us as His own in Christ.
- As you sing, look around at your siblings in Christ and sing your heart out to God and for one another (Col. 3:16). Corporate worship IS a dual work of service – unto the Lord as we worship Him (vertically), and serving one another (horizontally) as we remind and declare to each other that Christ is Lord! Singing is not boring – it is a fitting expression of our gratitude and reverence for God, and a teaching tool as we declare in song the glories of the gospel to each other.
- Resist the urge to be vague and “surfacey” in conversations. When someone asks “how you have been?”, don’t merely recite “Better than I deserve, brother!”, and then walk away. While you certainly are doing better than you deserve (see Romans 6:23), instead, honestly share a burden, or an area of struggle against sin that you are trusting the Lord to grow you in, or a praise for answered prayer. Countless spiritual needs have been left unmet as God’s people decimate potentially good conversations with Christian clichés and unpreparedness to share the real things of life with someone who cares.
- Ask someone how you might pray for them, and then… pray for them right on the spot! Do it! The corporate gathering is not your private prayer closet…it’s game time. We’ve just sung the battle cries of the faith. We’ve just been given our gospel marching orders from the Word of God. The time and space with God’s people between your pew seat (or camping chair) and your car, is the trenches where we call in air support before we charge the hill in to the week’s battle. Praying together is our expression of dependence upon God to sanctify us in light of what we’ve heard from his Word, and to see the gospel proclaimed and the lost saved in our world around us.
- Bring a notepad and write a name and number down of someone you can call to encourage from God’s Word during the week.
- Share a meal, or make a plan to get coffee with someone. Obviously, with health crisis restrictions in place there are some challenges, but sharing food is a great way "to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased." (Heb 13:16). Singles, ask a family if you might join them for dinner. Couples, invite some teens or college age people over for ice cream some evening so that they can watch you parent and disciple your kids. Older saints, take this opportunity on Sunday to invite a younger (maybe less mature?) person in to your life or home to get to know them, and share your testimony of God’s saving grace with them and to hear theirs – maybe they’re available Sunday evening!
Of course, the list could go on and on, but these are just a few ideas that you can do THIS Sunday morning. You could make sure to encourage a faithful servant on Sunday morning (probably wearing a mask, and disinfecting something). Write a note to one of your Elders to encourage them and tell them you’re praying for them.
Nothing innovative or groundbreaking here, but hopefully a reminder that for the believer, life is ministry – and Sunday is no exception, because corporate worship is both service, and sacrifice.