Pastor Ray Stedman, in his book Folk Psalms of Faith, says he wishes that all churchgoers could have the opportunity to stand in the pulpit and watch the faces in the congregation during a sermon. He says that while most people in the audience seem to be giving the minister their attention, a large number of them may have their minds elsewhere. Stedman writes, “It would be fascinating at the end of a service to know where everybody had been!” Of this we can be certain: Those who successfully discipline their minds to “stay in” the sanctuary are the ones who get the most out of the service.
To gain the greatest benefit from our church attendance, we must be active participants. First, before we leave home, we must prepare our hearts. Then, at church we should become wholeheartedly involved in every part of the service – singing the hymns, silently praying as the pastor leads, worshiping as the choir sings, and rejoicing in the warm fellowship we have with other believers. Finally, we have to discipline ourselves to listen; that is, we must intently, carefully, and openly receive the teaching of God’s Word. We should have a hunger for truth that quiets our spirits, inspires worship, evokes praise to God, and moves us to action.
It’s easy to blame the pastor if we leave church feeling empty and discouraged. But he can’t do all the work. We must do our share. Those who get the most out of the services are the ones who put the most into it. – Richard W. De Haan
The house of God should be a place
For praise and reverent prayer;
Let holy thoughts your spirit fill
Whene’er you enter there. – Henry G. Bosch
Active worship requires active involvement.
- March 13, 1988, Our Daily Bread