At Shepherd’s Gate Church we often begin our services with a Call to Worship. This practice of starting our gatherings with Scripture, is something that God’s people have been doing for ages and one that can have a profound impact on the gathered church today. In writing this, I hope to explain why we do this and to encourage you as you engage in this practice.
Why do a “Call to Worship”?
Theologian Bryan Chapell writes this in his book Christ-Centered Worship:
“The Call to Worship exhorts God’s people to turn from worldly distraction and to focus hearts, minds, and actions on revering Him.”
People come into church on Sunday with the weight of the world on their shoulders. They may have gotten in a fight with their spouse, lost a job, or received shocking medical test results. In all of this, God’s word offers respite from the stresses, pressures, and distractions of world. People hear the word of God and are comforted that God is a firm foundation in very shaky times.
Also, we have a tendency to focus inward toward our selfish desires. By engaging in a Call to Worship we are broken out of this mindset and drawn to our sovereign God. He uses His word to shift our focus from ourselves to Him and His will. It’s a beautifully necessary thing to participate in.
Why use Scripture as a “Call to Worship”?
Scripture is God’s word. By using His Word to call us, we are reminded that it is God who initiates the invitation. It’s His Word that works faith in our hearts through the power of His Holy Spirit.
Scripture also gives us a reason for responding to His action. Singing, praying, giving, listening, and building each other up are all responses to God’s undeserved, unidirectional, and all-encompassing love. When we are reminded of who our God is and what He has done, our response is worship.
Psalm 100:4-5 is a great example of a Call to Worship.
Worship Leader: Enter his gates with thanksgiving
and his courts with praise;
give thanks to him and praise his name.
ALL: For the Lord is good and his love endures forever;
his faithfulness continues through all generations.
Note : This would generally be used at the beginning of the first song. The band begins to swell in lightly under the Worship Leader as the congregation is encouraged to engage in this call and response.
By reading this together as the gathered church, people are reminded of God’s good character and His endless love. This elicits a response of praise and thanksgiving.
Use music as a support:
Most of the time we will underscore a Call to Worship so that it feels like it is part of the first song. This usually is a song that emphasizes God’s initiating action, His Character, and our response.
Here is a list of some of the songs we use:
- All Creatures Of Our God And King by Francis of Assisi
- Come Thou Fount Of Every Blessing Arr. Matt Boswell
- Lord Almighty by Kristian Stanfill
- Our God Saves by Paul Baloche
- Praise To The Lord The Almighty by Henry F. Lyte
- The Doxology by Thomas Ken
- We Respond by Kip Fox
- 1000 Reasons by Matt Redman
In a Call to Worship, we are invited to respond to our God and His extravagant love for us, His people. “Oh come, let us worship and bow down; let us kneel before the LORD, our Maker!” Psalm 95:6 (ESV)