The Call to Worship
The corporate worship gathering is a vital part of the weekly rhythm within the body of Christ. From prayer to preaching to lifting our voices in song, we as worship leaders and service leaders must be intentional with our planning in order that our services help point our people’s affections toward God in worship.
One of the best ways to help center our people is through a weekly call to worship. While many of us have heard this term and know its importance, we may not have a full understanding of its need in our services. I have personally seen how quickly a congregation can just “go through the motions” of corporate worship when the leaders aren’t intentional in setting the aim and purpose for the worship gathering.
Think of the people that you shepherd on a weekly basis for a moment. Many of them work full-time jobs throughout the week. Many of them have families and some of them have just dropped off crazy screaming kids in the children’s area. Many of them are struggling with sin. Many of them are broken. Many of them may be in a desert season. With all the burdens of life, they may have a hard time switching gears to get into the right mindset to worship in spirit and truth.
In a day and age where so many distractions are fighting for our attention, one of the best ways we can help center our people’s hearts is through a specific and pointed call to worship. It urges people to turn from worldly distractions and set their minds, hearts, and attention on the glory of God.
God’s Call to Us
In his book called Christ-Centered Worship, Bryan Chappell shows that the call to worship actually begins with God’s calling us to worship Him. The Greek word Ekklesia is used in the New Testament and commonly refers to “a called out assembly or congregation.” In this, the church consists of people who are called out by God into the perfect salvation He offers through the atoning work of Christ. We are a “chosen race, a royal priesthood, a people for His own possession” (1 Peter 2:5) that God has purchased, redeemed, and secured.
Before we can call God’s people to worship we have to arrive at the understanding that it is initially God Himself who has called us to worship. Only through this invitation are we able to respond as His people and “proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called us out of darkness into His marvelous light” (1 Peter 2:9). Through this realization, when we worship, we are doing what God has ultimately called us to do as His people.
Leading Our People in Response
After being reminded of God’s call to us, a call to worship sets the tone and helps posture people’s hearts to respond to Him. To be clear, the call to worship isn’t a mini-sermon nor is it a random use of words to get people excited. It’s a well-thought-out exhortation that is pulled from and rooted in Scripture and helps to center people’s hearts on worshipping Christ alone.
“Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth!
Serve the Lord with gladness!
Come into his presence with singing!” (Psalm 100:1-2)
Scriptures such as Psalm 100 are great passages to read out loud to help call our people to turn from worldly distractions and worship God. A few others I recommend include Psalm 105:1-3, Colossians 1:15-20, 1 Peter 1:3-5, and Psalm 134:1-2.
Here are two examples of a call to worship at the beginning of a worship service:
1. This morning as we worship let us look to Jesus and be reminded of his goodness and grace. As we begin our service we’re going to read a passage out of Colossians 1 that encourages us to see Christ for who he is, the holy and righteous King of Kings. Read Colossians 1:15-20.
2. Scripture says we are to bless the Lord at all times. As his bride we have the unique opportunity to praise his name together and make much of him. Let’s read Psalm 34:1-3, as we are reminded and encouraged to magnify the Lord together in this place today.
When we deliver a call to worship in our services we are simply reminding people of who God is and helping them to see Jesus as worthy of all praise and affection. Our congregations don’t simply need an opening fast song, a cool video, or an emotional exhortation to help them to worship. They need the inspired Word of God prompting their hearts to properly respond to the Savior who has called them by grace to worship his name. Being intentional by using a weekly call to worship not only serves to shepherd God’s people well, but also helps to turn people’s hearts and affections away from distractions and towards the glory of Christ.
Jarryd Foreman (@JarrydForeman) is a worship leader and pastor who has been leading worship for over nine years. His current position as a Worship Resident at the Austin Stone Community Church in Austin, TX, has given him the tremendous platform to declare the saving message of the Gospel through song.