Making the Most of Corporate Worship
How do we make the most of corporate worship? Since the resurrection of Jesus, Christians have gathered each week to sing praises to God, pray corporately together, and hear God’s Word preached. This gathering is not only a good idea but also commanded in Scripture for followers of Jesus (Heb. 10:25). So, how can we individually make the most of the time we spend together corporately?
Prepare! Like any important event, the weekly corporate gathering in the local church should be an event we anticipate and prepare for each week. While the world dismisses its importance, the weekly gathering is a meeting of cosmic importance in the heavens. Because of the person and work of Jesus, the writer to the Hebrews writes that now believers have come to “Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable angels in festal gathering, and to the assembly of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven” (Heb. 12:22 -23). When believers gather each week, believers literally join with innumerable angels in the heavenly Jerusalem singing praises to God. The King of Kings is pleased to hear us as we sing his praises and offer prayers to him. Additionally, he is pleased to address us as his majestic Word is preached, and His Spirit works through the preached Word. Scripture further makes clear that Christ Jesus himself is intimately familiar with the work and even the state of health in those local assemblies that have taken his name upon himself (Rev. 2 - 3). Accordingly, when we gather each week, we come together with people who are eternally valuable for worship that is eternally weighty and joyful as well. Because of these spiritual realities the Bible reveals to be true, we want to be a local assembly that takes full advantage of the privilege of corporate worship.
- One of the best ways you can prepare for corporate worship is to read the text to be preached ahead of time. Whether it is the night before, the morning of, or several days over the course of the week, engage with the text that will be preached that coming week. This will allow you to begin developing thoughts about the text, thinking about how it points to Jesus, and asking God to work in your life through it. When you have prepared for the preached Word in this way, you are placing yourself in a greater position to receive God’s grace through His Word and to grow in your understanding!
- A second way to prepare for the weekly gathering is to spend time praying over the service. If you have a family, spend time praying together with your family for God to work in each of your hearts. If you are single, spend deliberate time praying for the Lord to work in your heart. Pray for your own heart to be enlightened and that you would have a greater knowledge of God through that week’s gathering (Eph. 1:17 - 18). Pray also for others. Remember, you are joining together with fellow heirs whom God has called to himself (Rom. 8:17). Additionally, pray for the gospel to go forward and awaken dead hearts, that the Lord would be pleased to rescue many from the kingdom of darkness and transfer them into the kingdom of his beloved Son (Col. 1:13).
- A final way to prepare for corporate worship is to give intentional thought to how you might encourage another believer that week (Heb. 10:25). Just as there will be weeks when you need encouragement, so there are plenty of weeks when the Lord would be pleased to use you to encourage someone else as well. Consider letting someone know you have prayed for their joy in Christ or asking if there are any specific ways you can be praying for them. Consider telling someone how you have been encouraged by a clear evidence of God’s grace at work in their life. God is pleased to use such intentionally to grow us and spur us on.
One of the greatest gifts God gives to us as believers is the weekly gathering as we gather together to sing God’s praises, pray to the King of heaven and earth together, and consider his eternal Word. Rightly preparing for this great event will bless you spiritually and work to bless those you join with weekly as well. May the Lord of glory be pleased to give us more and more of himself as we attend carefully to his Word together week in and week out.