Why We Need to Put the ‘Service’ Back in Church Service

By Chad Ashby

Week after week, many of us attend a worship served not a worship service.

Don’t understand what I mean? Perhaps this will help.

How many of your Sundays look like this?

You show up, and parking lot attendants greet you. Faithful teachers instruct you. Ushers find a seat for you. A well-practiced worship band leads singing for you. Your pastor preaches a faithful, God-glorifying sermon to you. Childcare workers care for your children. And after all that, you pick up your kids and simply return home.

I wonder: Have we strayed from the way the early church approached their gatherings?

The Corinthians were so eager to serve what they’d prepared all week that it was causing chaos, forcing Paul to say, “One at a time, guys!” (1 Cor. 14:24–40). I doubt many of us have to ease off the gas pedal on the way to church because we’re so pumped to offer something to the Lord and our church family.

But wouldn’t that be something if we did? Consider these four basic ways we can use our Sundays to serve others, as opposed to just being served ourselves.

GET TO CHURCH EARLY

The church isn’t an audience but gathered members of a body. “So we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them”  (Romans 12:5–6). We have a responsibility as members to use the particular gifts Christ has given us to serve his body.

At the risk of sounding simplistic, here’s one way to apply this: Get to church early. This requires intentional planning, a rearranging of Saturday activities. But if you commit to it, then you’ll quickly begin to marvel at everything that takes place before others—like yourself—get to church. You’ll see opportunities for service galore. Two young ladies at our church arrive at church an hour early simply to ask, “How can we help?” They’ve found there’s always an answer to that question.

In fact, this is one of the easiest ways to experience what Paul talks about in Ephesians: “When each part is working properly, [Christ] makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love” (Eph 4:16). Do you want to grow as a Christian? Then get to church early.

SING

For many Christians, singing is a deeply personal experience. However, the Scriptures teach us that singing is a communal activity. Consider Psalm 95: “Oh come, let us sing to the LORD; let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation!” (Ps. 95:1). The Apostle Paul reminds two local churches to continue “addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart” (Eph. 5:19; Col. 3:16). Singing is a “one another” command—a service to others when we’re together.

We can offer up songs in worship to the Lord all week, but corporate gatherings are the only time we can exalt his name together (Ps. 34:3)When we join our voices in songs of exaltation, lament, confession and thanksgiving, Christ himself ministers to brothers and sisters among us who need a high priest who sympathizes with their weaknesses (Heb. 4:15). Singing is a tangible way to serve others, weeping with those who weep and rejoicing with those who rejoice (Rom. 12:15).

A few Sundays ago, I had laryngitis. Though I couldn’t sing, my soul was edified by fellow church members who sang for me. And then it struck me: This is the experience every week for many elderly members in our churches. They remain seated, trying their best to follow along, but infirmities inhibit them. Brothers and sisters, we can serve those who cannot sing by singing with, to and for them!

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Source: Church Leaders