Four Reasons To Equip Your Church For Active Response In Worship


I’ve been hearing various worship leaders talk about how their congregations don’t seem to open up in worship.

Since worship is about the heart, can you really ever say that one person is more worshipful than another?

Is the person standing in back with their hands in their pockets barely singing along in a monotone voice less spiritual than the person in the front row with their hands in the air, eyes closed, singing as loud as they can?

Again, there’s no way to judge where people are coming from, but when it comes to childlike, authentic, all-in worship with outward expressions, something comes alive.

For those whose congregation don’t seem to be on that page, it requires a bit of equipping and growing. It requires inviting and modeling. Most of all, it requires prayer and patience.

We don’t just want people to put on a show, we want authentic, heartfelt worship.

Speaking in horrendous generalities and from certain experiences that I’ve had, it seems the more a person has in life, the more difficult it is to let loose in worship. The less a person has, the freer they are worship. To the extent this may be true, I wonder if it’s because those with much have grown, even ever so subtly, to rely on it. Those who don’t have grown to rely on God’s strength alone, therefore adding to their desperate and active worship.

Of course, King David had massive riches and still worshipped wholeheartedly. He not only set some of the standards of active worship – lifting of hands, praising aloud, singing – he also danced unclothed before the Lord. He worshipped for hours as a time. And he was a man after God’s own heart.

The Psalms include many forms of active worship. One standard method is lifting hands (Ps. 63:4, 119:48, 28:2, 141:2, 134:2). There are also other mandates for this particular practice in Scripture, one place being 1 Timothy 2:8: “Therefore I want the people in every place to pray, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and dissension.”

As a guitar playing worship leader and the product of some relatively faithful, yet conservative worshipping congregations over the years, I’m afraid I don’t always model it well.

But after a handful of recent experiences leading in other congregations, here are four reasons we should learn to take it seriously. Not to do something against the grain of our church, but to institute and call us to do something that goes against the grain of self-reliance and self-worth. When we lift our hands (along with singing robustly, shouting, praising and other forms of active, corporate worship) toward Jesus with childlike, desperate faith, we are worshipping – thankful for life, for God’s grace and for the opportunity to give God glory.

Here are the four reasons to begin praying for, modeling, growing, equipping and loving your congregation toward a more active worship:

Glorify God

As we see in scripture, acts of worship glorify God. The people would be grateful and they would assemble around the tabernacle to thank the Lord. Their singing, participating and engaging in worship would give God glory. We’re part of a larger story – every creation is there to bring glory to God. (Psalm 96 and Psalm 29)

Send A Message To Our Bodies (or visa versa)

Our souls are inexplicably tied to our bodies. As our heart speaks our body respond. But the same is also true in reverse. As our body speaks, our heart responds. When a person becomes disciplined to get out of bed right away in the morning, it signals the brain to begin, to start and to get active. The same can be true in worship. As our heart is moved in God’s presence it sends a signal to our bodies to align with that response through action – singing, nodding, connecting, laughing, engaging. And maybe our heart isn’t in it, but as we lift our voices, our hands and our lives in worship it tells our hearts that we are committed no matter how we feel. Today, give God glory.

Encourage The Worship Team To Truly Lead

Believe it or not, worship teams meet together in back rooms praying that God will use them and flow through them. Leaders teach the teams to portray a certain level of energy. To be thermostats not thermometers. To show 10 times the expression they believe is good – since they are leading the congregation from the stage. But when a congregation is authentically alive in worship, it encourages the worship team and leaders. It encourages the pastor and the two, by the grace of God and the holy spirit, begin to work and worship together. Explosive clapping is a not only a celebration of worship for God’s great work and majesty, but it’s an energy builder during worship and it does incredible things for a connection between the congregation and the leaders.

Witness To Those Around In Worship

Active worship models a sense of joy and aliveness to those around you. On any given Sunday there is someone seeking and dealing with something. There may be a guest who hasn’t been in church in some time. As the person comes into worship, it’s the whole church that models the celebration and spirit of God at work, not just the worship team. God uses this corporate, active act of worship to makes a spirit filled impact in the lives of others.