Growing up we always had Thanksgiving lunch at my grandparents’ house. Homemade applesauce was in abundance. Freshly carved turkey was on hand. Deviled eggs were a must. Mashed potatoes and gravy were a stable. And there was always pecan pie and pumpkin pie. Is your mouth watering yet? Mine is. The food was great and the table looked as good as the food tasted. My grandparents knew how to set the banquet table for the family to come and feast.
My mentor, Carl Stam, shared with me profound counsel: the worship pastor’s job is to set the banquet of God before the people and let them come and feast. This is by far the greatest piece of guidance anyone has given me regarding leading worship. Here are four ways to set the table for your church family.
- Sing the Word– Our songs should be filled with God’s Word. We might sing an entire Psalm or a phrase or two. 10,000 Reasons- Psalm 103 is a great example of singing the Psalms. We could sing a song like God of the Ages- Colossians 1:15-20. This is the first hymn we see in the New Testament. Maybe we sing a spiritual song that has many truths in it, like In Christ Alone, or maybe The Great I Am. Today there is an abundance of songs to sing. Choose the best. Do not settle! Guard your church’s doxology with passion and fevor. Martin Luther said, “If you want to know what a church believes look at their doxology (what they sing). Colossians 3:16 states, Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.
- Read the Word– God’s Word should have a very prominent place in corporate worship. We cannot worship what we do not know. As we read the Word the church body is able to see the beauty of Jesus Christ. Maybe you begin worship with a call to worship from Psalm 111 that is a responsive reading. A reading like this fosters 100% participation and it is the Word. Fantastic! Or as you come to a Gospel moment in the service you read Romans 5:1-11. This past Sunday after we sang God of the Ages, I spontaneously prayed an adoration prayer and then read Romans 5 over the people. Worship leading is pastoral care. Shepherd the people of God as you lead. Make God’s Word a priority. Lead from the Word. The body will greatly benefit from it and so will you.
- Pray the Word– As you pray in corporate worship, pray the Word. Pray through Psalm 145 as you begin worship. “God, You are great and Your greatness is unsearchable therefore I extol You my God and King and bless Your name forever and ever.” As you lead the church in confession pray through Psalm 51. Have mercy on me, O God, according to Your steadfast love; according to Your abundant mercy blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin! As you close the service in a benediction pray over your people Jude 24 & 25. Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of His glory with great joy, to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.
- Preach the Word– Al Mohler has said, Preaching of the Word is the centerpiece of Christian worship. Indeed, it is because Jesus is central. The exposition of the scriptures is paramount to people seeing and understanding who God is by the power of the Spirit. We are seeing a trend today for preachers to be cool and hip at the cost of dumbing down or even leaving out the Bible in their messages. In the words of tennis great Johnny Mac, “You cannot be serious!” People should walk away thinking about the Triune God. We need to hear how God parted the Red Sea, how Noah obeyed God and built the Ark, how God created the earth and all its inhabitants, how His Son was born of a virgin, died on a cross, rose again, and ascended into Heaven and sits at the right hand of God. Preach the Word unapologetically friend. I need it. You need it. Everyone needs to hear the Good News of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I give thanks today for my senior pastor, Pastor Doug, that he preaches the Word faithfully week after week at Bethel.
There are many things that we could set the table with. Set the table with God’s Word. Show your church family the magnificent, Holy, Gracious, Merciful God as revealed in the Scriptures. It is always worth it!
What kind of banquet are you setting each week?
For the Glory of Jesus Christ,