As I approach the one year anniversary of stepping down as Pastor of Discovery Christian Church I am reminded of the Johnny Cash song “I’ve Been Everywhere.” Jan and I have worshiped with a variety of churches across the country in Tennessee, Texas, and California. I have preached as a guest in several churches ranging from a cathedral where I wore a robe to a rented classroom where worshipers sat in chairs behind tables. Admittedly I have missed two Sundays—one when I was so sick I couldn’t get out of bed and one when we were traveling and couldn’t.
People go to church to worship the Lord, hear His Word, and spend time with His people. We were in churches with thousands and churches with under 30 and all sizes in between. There were a variety of styles of worship, and Jan and I were able to truly worship every place we have been. We discovered we could do that regardless of the setting, the style of music, or the preacher. Our worship has been enriched by the variety. But there were a few things I have been thinking about with regard to my own preferences.
Some worship leaders think you have to be standing to worship through singing. I love worship singing even when I am not singing, but standing the whole time doesn’t contribute to my worship. After standing for a song or two my preference would be to sit down and sing and stand again later. And all the songs don’t have to be loud and upbeat. We can worship meaningfully with a quieter and slower song—preferably sitting down.
Some pastors think they have to preach longer and say more than as a worshiper I want. I want significant Bible teaching applied to my life, but I don’t want to sit and listen for more than 40 minutes and would prefer around 30 minutes. Some Bible teachers try to cover too much material or in their teaching keep repeating themselves. It’s better to quit with the people wanting more than to go on and on with people wondering when it will be over.
Refreshments after worship add to the time of fellowship for those who are interested and enjoy them, but not everyone is interested in hanging around. Some people have plans and others simply do not like to eat what is provided or particularly want to talk. Invite worshipers to stay and eat, but don’t twist any arms as it may be counterproductive.
It has been a great 51 weeks for us and we have enjoyed everywhere we have been. We look forward with great anticipation to what the Lord has in store for us this next year in terms of where we worship and where I will be privileged to “guest preach.” And I’ll be fine if we stand the whole time we sing, if the pastor preaches for 40 minutes or more, and even if we are pressed to stay for donuts!
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