Pre-flight Checklist for Worship

Experiencing Worship At A Higher Level

Most of us wait until we are comfortably situated in the sanctuary, the lights are dimmed and the worship leader gives the downbeat before we begin to worship. That’s too late! That’s a recipe for a less-than-satisfying experience of the greatest activity to which we are called: worshipping in the presence of Almighty God. True worship begins long before we get to church.

worship

Making Life Work
Read: Psalm 100 // Focus: Psalm 100:4

Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name.

The psalmist is speaking of what you do before you get to church. He is talking about how you enter the sanctuary. He is thinking of pre-worship—how you ready your heart in anticipation of meeting the God of all creation as you gather with his people in corporate praise. He is describing your preparation for worship.

So how do you prepare for worship?

Perhaps you have a set routine as you ready yourself for church services, or maybe you don’t. It could be you go through a checklist of pre-flight instructions—I doubt it. Quite likely, your preparations for church just simply happen—a random scramble followed by a mad dash to get you, the kids and the dog out the door. Hopefully, the dog doesn’t go with you. I totally understand that scene.

I would like to suggest couple of things, however, that will not only enhance and elevate your experience of worship, but it is wholly appropriate in light of the One you are preparing to worship. First of all, as you and your family are driving to church, go through a preflight checklist of things for which you are grateful. And just so it doesn’t become routine, add this rule: your thankfulness has to be from the past seven days.

Second, actually begin to sing a song of praise as you drive onto the church parking lot. As you walk up to the church, sing to the Lord. I know, people will think you are weird—who cares. They’re just thinking the obvious. The parking team may give you a quirky look, but what does that matter? You aren’t singing for their benefit; you’re singing for Jesus. I know: I’ve lost you on this one, but I’m serious. Try it for a month, along with the gratitude exercise, and see if it doesn’t elevate your worship game.

By the way, I am not the first to suggest such a thing. Two hundred years ago, John Wesley printed a pre-flight checklist in the front of the hymnbook he authored. Here are his “Directions For Singing”:

  1. Learn these tunes before you learn any others; afterwards learn as many as you please.
  1. Sing them exactly as they are printed here without altering or mending them at all.
  1. Sing all. See that you join with a congregation as frequently as you can, let not a slight degree or weariness hinder you.
  1. Sing lustily and with good courage. Beware of singing as if you were half dead, or half asleep; but lift up your voice with strength.
  1. Sing modestly. Do not bawl, so as to be heard above or distinct from the rest of the congregation so that you may not destroy the harmony.
  1. Sing in tune. Whatever time is sung be sure to keep with it, do not run before or stay behind it; but attend close to the leading voices, and move there exactly as you can; and take care not to sing too slow.
  1. Above all sing spiritually. Have an eye to God in every word you sing. Aim at pleasing him more than yourself or any other creature. In order to do this attend strictly to the sense of what you sing.

Great—you can sing lustily, but no bawling!

Making Life Work: You’ve got nothing to lose and everything to gain by giving this a try. If you want a heightened experience of worship, go this this pre-flight checklist each Sunday for a month, and see if it doesn’t change the way you worship. I have a feeling you will enjoy it at a whole higher level.

Go Ahead—Dance!

Lose Yourself In The Wonder Of Worship

Wouldn’t it be great to be so in love with Jesus and so overwhelmed by his saving grace and so grateful for his undeserved kindness that you just lost yourself for a season in unfettered worship—and you danced and shouted and jumped for joy in his presence? Pictured is Ashley Brown from Brooklyn, New York serving in Gojo, Ethiopia. Goes to show . . . you can dance anywhere!

Dance

Making Life Work
Read: Psalm 98 // Focus: Psalm 98:4-5

Shout for joy to the LORD, all the earth, burst into jubilant song with music; make music to the LORD with the harp, with the harp and the sound of singing.

On one of my missions trips to Africa, in a western region of Ethiopia, and I was called upon to preach in one of the thriving churches that are springing up every year there by the hundreds. This is a backwards part of the world, to say the least, but it also seems to be ground zero for a modern day Holy Spirit revival. One of the things I love most about being there is the unfettered praise these people lift to God when they gather as the church to worship.

Right before I was to preach, the choir sang—two songs. Back-to-back songs. Songs that were twelve minutes each! I know; I timed them. And not knowing the language, I sat for twenty-four minutes listening to singers I didn’t know lifting love songs I didn’t know to the God who has rescued them from utter darkness and brought them into the kingdom of his Son. And I’ve got to tell you: I was moved.

In the front row sat a man began who began to get “blessed” by the choir. He began to shake, then he began to shout, and then he began to dance back and forth across the front of the sanctuary with dance moves that that I suspect would be physically impossible for any American to duplicate. Not a practiced routine, mind you, you could tell this was totally spontaneous. After a bit, this fellow finally danced back to his seat, only to get “re-blessed” within a few seconds, whereupon he begin his shaking-shouting-dancing routine all over again—for twenty-four minutes.

My first thought was, “wow, this would never happen where I’m from. This man is calling attention to himself, and I’d have to set him straight about propriety in worship.” But then I begin to notice that this man was lost in the wonder of worship. He wasn’t calling attention to himself; he was expressing unfettered praise to God in a way that I had never, ever come close to experiencing. Although not dancing as he was, so was everyone else in the place that day.

And then I was a bit jealous!

Wouldn’t it be great to be that in love with Jesus and that overwhelmed by his saving grace and that grateful for the most dramatic search and rescue that ever took place when he saved you from utter darkness and eternal damnation that you just lost yourself for a season in unfettered worship? Of course there are cultural differences that will shape our expressions of worship—I get that—but wouldn’t you agree that we need to loosen up a bit in how we express our love and gratitude to God in worship from time to time?

Certainly the psalmist thinks so.

Making Life Work: You might want to get in a place all by yourself for this one, but be open to losing yourself in the wonder of worship. As you lift your gratitude and praise to God, shout, jump and dance if you dare. It will do your soul wonders!

 

 

Sing On The Way

As we come together corporately, the very place where we gather—church building, school auditorium, family room, under a tree—along with those who gather, is the temple of God, his holy dwelling place on earth. Something powerful happens when we, the body of Christ, gather to exalt the head of the body, Jesus Christ. As Christ is worshipped, God’s presence fills the temple. And that is something to sing about! If you’ve lost the kind of anticipation for going to church that makes you sing, I would suggest you have misplaced your understanding of what the community of believers is all about. Go back and find it—it is crucial to your spiritual health. When you come to church, you are coming into the very place and to the very people who are now the dwelling place of God! And where God dwells there is both earthly joy and eternal pleasure.

sing-boy-oldschool

Making Life Work
Read: Psalm 84
Focus: Psalm 84:10

Better is one day in your courts than a thousand elsewhere; I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of the wicked.

Do you sing on your way to church? The Israelites did. There was a whole series of songs written just for people on their way to the tabernacle, and later, the temple, in Jerusalem. They were called psalms of assent. And while technically, this psalm isn’t included in the psalms of assent, like those songs, this song extolled the blessings of belonging to God and the anticipation of coming to the earthy dwelling that housed his uncontainable presence. This is a good song to sing on the way to church.

Perhaps we ought to revive that tradition of singing on the way. I’m sure it would heighten our anticipation of entering the Lord’s presence with the community of believers and deepen our experience of his mighty presence in the house of worship.

Of course, the New Testament teaches us that we no longer need to go to the temple in Jerusalem in order to worship—a good thing, since it no longer exists. Under the new covenant, God, himself, continually dwells in you, personally—you are now the temple of the Holy Spirit. (I Corinthians 6:19) Yet while God dwells in you individually, your salvation is not to be divorced from God’s people collectively—the church. You and I, together, make up the new covenant temple of God. (I Corinthians 3:16-17; II Corinthians 6:15-17; Ephesians 2:20-22)

As we come together corporately, the very place where we gather—church building, school auditorium, family room, under a tree—along with those who gather, is the temple of God, his holy dwelling place on earth. Something powerful happens when we, the body of Christ, gather to exalt the head of the body, Jesus Christ. As Christ is worshipped, God’s presence fills the temple. And that is something to sing about!

If you have lost the kind of anticipation for going to church that makes you sing, I would suggest you have misplaced your understanding of what the community of believers is all about. I would challenge you to go back and find it—it is crucial to your spiritual health. When you come to church, you are coming into the very place and to the very people who are now the dwelling place of God! And where God dwells there is both earthly joy and eternal pleasure. (Psalm 16:11)

One day of the kind of earthly joy and eternal pleasure we experience as God dwells among his people is better than a thousand days on the best beaches of Maui or on the rides at Disneyland or on the greens at Pebble Beach or in between the sheets of your bed. If you don’t get that, your vision is clouded.

Making Life Work: Try it. Start singing about the goodness of God on the way to church. If you will, at some point the goodness of God will get into your spirit and you will begin to see what the psalmist saw—and then you can write your own psalm of assent.

Unfettered Worship

Read Psalm 98

Featured Verse: Psalm 98:4-5

“Shout for joy to the LORD, all the earth, burst into jubilant song with music; make music to the LORD with the harp, with the harp and the sound of singing.”

I was recently in the western region of Ethiopia, and I was called upon to preach in one of the thriving churches that are springing up every year there by the hundreds. This is a backwards part of the world, to say the least, but it also seems to be ground zero for a modern day Holy Spirit revival. One of the things I love most about being there is the unfettered worship these people lift to God when they gather for church.

Right before I was to preach, the choir sang—two songs. Back-to-back songs. Songs that were twelve minutes each! I know; I timed them. And not knowing the language, I sat for twenty-four minutes listening to singers I didn’t know lifting love songs I didn’t know to the God who has rescued them from utter darkness and brought them into the kingdom of his Son. And I’ve got to tell you: I was moved.

In the front row sat a man who began to get “blessed” by the choir. He began to shake, then he began to shout, and then he began to dance back and forth across the front of the sanctuary with dance moves that that I suspect would be physically impossible for any American to duplicate. Not a practiced routine, mind you, you could tell this was totally spontaneous. After a bit, this fellow finally danced back to his seat, only to get “re-blessed” within a few seconds, whereupon he begin his shaking-shouting-dancing routine all over again—for twenty-four minutes.

My first thought was, “wow, this would never happen where I’m from. This man is calling attention to himself, and I’d have to set him straight about propriety in worship.” But then I begin to notice that this simple believer was lost in the wonder of worship. He wasn’t calling attention to himself; he was expressing unfettered praise to God in a way that I had never, ever come close to experiencing. So was everyone else in the place that day.

And then I was a bit jealous!

Wouldn’t it be great to be that in love with Jesus and that overwhelmed by his saving grace and that grateful for the most dramatic search and rescue that ever took place when he saved you from utter darkness and eternal damnation that you just lost yourself for a season in unfettered worship? Of course there are cultural differences that will shape our expressions of worship—I get that—but wouldn’t you agree that we need to loosen up a bit in how we express our love and gratitude to God in worship from time to time?

Certainly the psalmist thinks so.

“The most valuable thing the Psalms do for me is to express the same delight in God which made David dance.”
~C. S. Lewis

A Song For Going To Church

Read Psalm 84

Featured Verse: Psalm 84:10

“Better is one day in your courts than a thousand elsewhere; I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of the wicked.”

Do you sing on your way to church? The Israelites did. There was a whole series of songs written just for people on their way to the tabernacle, and later, the temple, in Jerusalem. They were called psalms of assent. These songs usually extolled the blessings of belonging to God and the anticipation of coming to the earthy dwelling that housed his uncontainable presence.

Perhaps we ought to revive that tradition. I’m sure it would heighten our anticipation of entering the Lord’s presence with the community of believers and deepen our experience of his mighty presence in the house of worship.

Of course, the New Testament teaches us that we no longer need to go to the temple in Jerusalem in order to worship—a good thing, since it no longer exists. Under the new covenant, God, himself, continually dwells in you, personally—you are now the temple of the Holy Spirit. (I Corinthians 6:19) Yet while God dwells in you individually, your salvation is not to be divorced from God’s people collectively—the church. You and I, together, make up the new covenant temple of God. (I Corinthians 3:16-17; II Corinthians 6:15-17; Ephesians 2:20-22)

As we come together corporately, the very place where we gather—church building, school auditorium, family room, under a tree—along with those who gather, is the temple of God, his holy dwelling place on earth. Something powerful happens when we, the body of Christ, come together to exalt the head of the body, Jesus Christ. As Christ is worshipped, God’s presence fills the temple. And that is something to sing about!

If you have lost the kind of anticipation for going to church that makes you sing, I would suggest you have misplaced your understanding of what the community of believers is all about. I would challenge you to go back and find it—it is crucial to your spiritual health. When you come to church, you are coming into the very place and to the very people who are now the dwelling place of God! And where God dwells there is both earthly joy and eternal pleasure. (Psalm 16:11)

One day of the kind of earthly joy and eternal pleasure we experience as God dwells among his people is better than a thousand days on the best beaches of Maui or on the rides at Disneyland or on the greens at Pebble Beach or in between the sheets of your bed. If you don’t get that, your vision is clouded.

So start singing about it on the way to church, and pretty soon, it will get into your spirit and you will begin to see what the psalmist saw—and then you can write your own psalm of assent.

“When we worship together as a community of living Christians, we do not worship alone, we worship ‘with all the company of heaven.’”
—Marianne H. Micks

Psalm 98: Unfettered Worship

Read Psalm 98:1-9

Unfettered Worship

Shout for joy to the LORD, all the earth, burst into jubilant song with music;
make music to the LORD with the harp, with the harp and the sound of singing.
(Psalm 98:4-5)

I was recently in the western region of Ethiopia, and I was called upon to preach in one of the thriving churches that are springing up every year there by the hundreds. This is a backwards part of the world, to say the least, but it also seems to be ground zero for a modern day Holy Spirit revival. One of the things I love most about being there is the unfettered worship these people lift to God when they gather for church.

Right before I was to preach, the choir sang—two songs. Back-to-back songs. Songs that were twelve minutes each! I know; I timed them. And not knowing the language, I sat for twenty-four minutes listening to singers I didn’t know lifting love songs I didn’t know to the God who has rescued them from utter darkness and brought them into the kingdom of his Son. And I’ve got to tell you: I was moved.

In the front row sat a man who began to get “blessed” by the choir. He began to shake, then he began to shout, and then he began to dance back and forth across the front of the sanctuary with dance moves that that I suspect would be physically impossible for any American to duplicate. Not a practiced routine, mind you, you could tell this was totally spontaneous. After a bit, this fellow finally danced back to his seat, only to get “re-blessed” within a few seconds, whereupon he begin his shaking-shouting-dancing routine all over again—for twenty-four minutes.

My first thought was, “wow, this would never happen where I’m from. This man is calling attention to himself, and I’d have to set him straight about propriety in worship.” But then I begin to notice that this man was lost in the wonder of worship. He wasn’t calling attention to himself; he was expressing unfettered praise to God in a way that I had never, ever come close to experiencing. So was everyone else in the place that day.

And then I was a bit jealous!

Wouldn’t it be great to be that in love with Jesus and that overwhelmed by his saving grace and that grateful for the most dramatic search and rescue that ever took place when he saved you from utter darkness and eternal damnation that you just lost yourself for a season in unfettered worship? Of course there are cultural differences that will shape our expressions of worship—I get that—but wouldn’t you agree that we need to loosen up a bit in how we express our love and gratitude to God in worship from time to time?

Certainly the psalmist thinks so.

“The most valuable thing the Psalms do for me is to express
the same delight in God which made David dance.”

~C. S. Lewis

Psalm 84: Sing On The Way

Read Psalm 84:1-12

A Song For Going To Church

Better is one day in your courts than a thousand elsewhere;
I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God
than dwell in the tents of the wicked.
(Psalm 84:10)

Do you sing on your way to church? The Israelites did. There was a whole series of songs written just for people on their way to the tabernacle, and later, the temple, in Jerusalem. They were called psalms of assent. These songs usually extolled the blessings of belonging to God and the anticipation of coming to the earthy dwelling that housed his uncontainable presence.

Perhaps we ought to revive that tradition. I’m sure it would heighten our anticipation of entering the Lord’s presence with the community of believers and deepen our experience of his mighty presence in the house of worship.

Of course, the New Testament teaches us that we no longer need to go to the temple in Jerusalem in order to worship—a good thing, since it no longer exists. Under the new covenant, God, himself, continually dwells in you, personally—you are now the temple of the Holy Spirit. (I Corinthians 6:19) Yet while God dwells in you individually, your salvation is not to be divorced from God’s people collectively—the church. You and I, together, make up the new covenant temple of God. (I Corinthians 3:16-17; II Corinthians 6:15-17; Ephesians 2:20-22)

As we come together corporately, the very place where we gather—church building, school auditorium, family room, under a tree—along with those who gather, is the temple of God, his holy dwelling place on earth. Something powerful happens when we, the body of Christ, come together to exalt the head of the body, Jesus Christ. As Christ is worshipped, God’s presence fills the temple. And that is something to sing about!

If you have lost the kind of anticipation for going to church that makes you sing, I would suggest you have misplaced your understanding of what the community of believers is all about. I would challenge you to go back and find it—it is crucial to your spiritual health. When you come to church, you are coming into the very place and to the very people who are now the dwelling place of God! And where God dwells there is both earthly joy and eternal pleasure. (Psalm 16:11)

One day of the kind of earthly joy and eternal pleasure we experience as God dwells among his people is better than a thousand days on the best beaches of Maui or on the rides at Disneyland or on the greens at Pebble Beach or in between the sheets of your bed. If you don’t get that, your vision is clouded.

So start singing about it on the way to church, and pretty soon, it will get into your spirit and you will begin to see what the psalmist saw—and then you can write your own psalm of assent.

“When we worship together as a community of living Christians, we do
not worship alone, we worship ‘with all the company of heaven.’”

—Marianne H. Micks