Preachers are arguably in the best position to enhance congregational worship. Here are five ways preachers can help their congregations worship well:
- Take responsibility for worship. Your church may have a minister of music or a similarly titled position, but if you are the lead pastor, you are the primary worship leader. You are called to oversee the entire congregation, and you bear ultimate responsibility for all that takes place during worship. Be sure to communicate clearly any expectations you have for ministers serving under your leadership and meet weekly with them to review previous services and prepare for upcoming services.
- Frequently teach about worship. Preachers help their congregations worship better by being good teachers of worship. While a sermon series is helpful, frequently explaining unfamiliar terms or phrases used in worship is important. For example, not everyone knows “hallelujah” means, “praise the Lord” or the hymn lyric “Here I raise my Ebenezer” refers to a stone erected to commemorate God’s help (1 Samuel 7:12). Being a good worship teacher deepens the worship experience and makes it more meaningful for a congregation.
- Occasionally work worship lyrics into sermons. The Bible itself illustrates how truth is taught in music, evidenced in 150 psalms and song lyrics memorializing significant events. Many traditional hymns, contemporary songs, and popular praise choruses provide great illustrative material to teach sermon truths. When preachers occasionally recite worship lyrics in their sermons, they not only teach the biblical text, but they also make worshipers aware of good worship songs that reinforce biblical teachings.
- Set a good worship example. For different reasons, many people watch the preacher during the worship service. It may be they’re evaluating his level of interest and engagement. Or, they might genuinely enjoy seeing their pastor worship. it In any case, preachers model good worship behavior by giving their attention to whoever is speaking and joyfully singing with their fellow worshipers. Don’t make a spectacle of yourself—but do worship!
- As much as possible, worship beside your family in the service. Not only is this good for your family, but it also sets a good worship example for others. Your spouse will be grateful for it. Your kids need it. Your church will appreciate it. And, you’ll enjoy it!
- Don’t review your sermon notes during worship. While this action could fall under the previous heading, it requires its own category. It’s one thing to glance quickly over a sermon introduction just before entering the pulpit, but it’s another thing to have our heads down during the entire worship service because we’re reading our manuscript. Good sermon preparation includes time spent reviewing the message before the service begins. Furthermore, a preacher’s disengagement from the service disheartens worship teams and choirs who may conclude the preacher doesn’t care about worship.
Preachers and worship leaders: what would you add to this discussion?
If you would like to invite Dr. Linn to speak, contact him here.