President's Blog

It's 8:00 a.m... How do You Prepare for Worship?

How do you prepare yourself for worship? What, if anything, do you do to get yourself ready before the Sunday worship service?

In his book, “Stress Fractures”, Chuck Swindoll remembers a time when the demands of ministry were unbearable. He eventually brought his “hurry-up” pattern of living from his office to his home. At dinner one evening his youngest daughter wanted to say something important to him. In a hurry she said, “Daddy, I-wanna-tell-you-something-and-I’ll-say-it-real-fast!” Swindoll sensed Coleen’s frustration and said, “Honey, you can tell me and you don’t have to tell me really fast. Say it slowly.” Swindoll says he’ll never forget her response: “Then please listen slowly.” Hmmm…. Sound familiar?!.

What do you do to prepare for worship? Worship should speak paramountly about our response to God. And God is certainly worthy of our worship.

“Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God which is your spiritual worship.” – Romans 12:1

I recently asked some Fellowship worship pastors from our churches how they personally prepare themselves before a worship service. I received some great insight and solid practical suggestions. Please take the time to read the counsel of some of our “official worship prompters”. I hope you’ll consider something you read for your own life starting this week:

“I personally try to “soak” in the Scripture focus and worship themes for our services by reflecting and meditating in prayerful exchange with God multiple times throughout the week. I also spend considerable time to practice and rehearse the planned elements (musical, technical, transitions, etc.) so that I feel free to lead in a way that allows me to fully engage in worship rather than just execute a plan. I also choose to protect myself from late nights before our corporate worship services so that I am physically rested and renewed.”

—Steve Cottrell, Calvary Baptist, Oshawa, ON

“The way I personally prepare before a worship service is by…. spending time in prayer meditating on the text we are focusing on that Sunday and thinking through the movement  of the service to make sure I am prepared to communicate clearly the progression of worship in that service. It is a delight to be reminded by each other of who we are in Christ and what his character is and to pray for each other and for the people who will gather.

—Sarah Quartel, Forward Baptist, Toronto, ON

“The way I personally prepare before a worship service is twofold. The first thing I do is ensure that I have spent sufficient time in prayer and with God the night prior and/or the morning of the service. This helps to centre me, and it ensures that my focus is in the right place. I also make sure that, as a team, we spend time in prayer together prior to the service, so that we have the proper focus going into the service. The second thing I do is to ensure that all the practical details have been looked after as thoroughly as possible. This, of course, is no guarantee that everything will go smoothly, but it allows me to place my focus where it must be, on the worship of Jesus.”

— Patrick Timney, Bramalea Baptist, ON

“…I also spend time in prayer, being thoughtful of Jesus’ grace over my sin, and being thoughtful of the gift that I have to be able to lead His people in my local assembly. Then we as a team of worship leaders (tech and music) participate in a devotional time which is usually a Psalm that I have chosen to settle our hearts on God’s character.”

— Corey Brown, West Park Baptist, London, ON

“I know this seems like a no-brainer – but my Sunday morning begins on Saturday night. It’s been a priority since I started leading worship 20 years ago to begin the preparation process on Saturday evening. My wife and I have a standing arrangement that we do not book anything on Saturday night – we often turn down invitations to events and dinners for the sake of preparing ourselves for Sunday morning. Although I have chosen the music and plan the service a week in advance, and had our time of musical rehearsal on Thursday evening, the Saturday evening is still critical to my preparation. This often includes going through the order of service, any notes I have on transitional “words of worship” between songs, some prayer time, etc. My wife and I may watch a TV show together – and then I’ll make sure my clothes are ready to go and I am in bed early.”

— Paul Turner, Emmanuel Baptist, Barrie, ON

“The way I personally prepare before a worship service is by getting to the church building at least a half hour before anyone else. We typically practice at 7:30 on a Sunday morning, so early mornings can be difficult. However, when I’ve been able to give myself at least 30 minutes of quiet time with the Lord, before people show up, and chaos of work begins, I find I am much more energized, patient, and focused as I serve the church on a Sunday morning.

— Jacob Elliot, Grandview Church, Kitchener, ON

“The way I personally prepare before a worship service is by having 15 minutes of prayer time with the praise team, sound technicians, and individuals from our church prayer team. Sunday mornings are incredibly busy for me, so we schedule 15 minutes of prayer (30 minutes before the service) to help us take our focus off accomplishing the task of music ministry and instead to focus on the why of music ministry, and the who (God) of music ministry. I can lead with peace and joy when I have given the outcome to God and have fully committed the service to His Will.”

— Daniel Dayton, Emmanuel Baptist Church, Bloomfield, ON 

“The way I personally prepare before a worship service is by praying over and meditating on the day’s Scripture text, walking through the sanctuary picturing the congregation’s faces and situations, carefully aligning my thoughts and heart to the worship service’s “takeaway” of the day, then recounting that to the team and reminding them to point to Christ in an encouraging way before a time of team prayer.”

—Dan Salmon, Westney Heights Baptist, Ajax, ON

“The way I personally prepare before a worship service is by thinking about and praying for the people that I will be leading. It is easy to make things all about me, especially in worship ministry, but it’s paramount to contemplate how everything will best serve the congregation. This includes new people walking into church for the first time, students and young people in the service, families and children, old faithful saints that have been worshipping here long before me. Throughout my preparation I want to be asking, “How can I bless them and point them to Jesus most effectively?” and praying, “God, open their eyes to see the beauty of the Gospel in a new and fresh way through this service.”

— Luke Cuthbert, Summerside Church, London, ON

“Preparing for a worship service is a week-long process for me. My best preparation times are at the piano, worshipping by myself. I find that if I just try to “engineer” a song set and a service on paper or on the computer, it often falls flat. But if I worship alone and feel the presence of the Lord myself, the service seems to come alive by the Holy Spirit working through the team. Just before we lead our service, we gather our music and tech team together as one, to pray for each other, and for the hundreds who will attend the service. We often serve communion to each other. This alone has changed the working relationship of our team, and has ramped up our spiritual preparation.”

— Gary Sharpe, Forward Baptist, Cambridge, ON

“The way I personally prepare (when I’m preparing properly!) is by taking time alone, often in the space we’ll be worshipping in. With the upcoming gathering in mind, I will take time to read, pray, and meditate on the truths we will be touching on in the service, asking that God work in all our hearts and minds as we meet in His name.”

— Ben Smith, Bonnyville Baptist, AB

“The way I personally prepare before a worship service is by… making sure all the details are cared for so that I, the worship team, and other service participants can truly enter into worship and meet with God. If my heart and mind are clouded, I will be forced to “go through the motions” rather than experiencing the Lord’s presence. Through prayer, through preparation, and staying sharp with God, I can experience the ‘peace of God’ (Phil. 4:7) which puts me in a right place to lead on Sundays.”

— Lee Brubacher, West Highland Baptist, Hamilton, ON

Romans 12:1 qualifies the word “worship” with the word “spiritual”. This is the Koine Greek word “logikos”, which we translate into English as logical or reasonable. In other words, in view of God’s “mercies” bestowed generously upon us, it is “reasonable” to render a wholehearted devotion when we praise God. Worship is logical when I ponder the goodness of God’s character. God is worthy of my worship. It is something I do; want to do.

Biblical worship is something I do. It is not so much a state of being (pagan worship) but a verb. The 19th Century philosopher, Sorën Kierkegaard, put it this way:

“In Christian worship…. God is the audience, the congregation the performer and the minister, choir and other leaders are the prompters.” The congregation is not the audience, but the performers. We do not come to the 10:00 a.m. service to observe and spectate, but to participate.”

A big “Thank you” to the Fellowship worship pastors suggested ways to prepare ourselves to actively celebrate when we gather with our church family to praise and extol our great God and King.