When you come into a church replant or revitalization setting, you will most likely feel overwhelmed by all that needs to be done. There are committee meetings to lead, people to visit, sermons to write — and coffee to drink! There probably are building issues that need to be addressed. If you’re not an administrator, your administration skills will be challenged and developed out of necessity. You’ll probably find your head spinning often in the early days as you consider the long list of needs to be addressed.
I don’t think any of these are ultimate. Let me be clear: It’s not that they’re unimportant. It’s just that none of them are of first importance. This is crucial, because there are many days when they will feel ultimate. As the old saying goes, the squeaky wheel gets the grease, so you’ll be tempted to give the most attention to things (or people) that squeak the loudest.
I’m convinced this is why many pastors don’t last long-term in churches. If you’re constantly working to put out the latest fire that has popped up, you’re going to tire quickly.
I’m convinced the greatest need in the life of a church in revitalization (and in a revitalizing pastor’s life) is worship. Stay with me here. I’m not saying the greatest need is for you to address the music in your worship service. Despite what we have heard and, perhaps believed, music ≠ worship. Certainly music can play a part in worship, but it is not equivalent with worship. Worship goes much deeper. Worship happens at 6 a.m. on Monday mornings and at 8 p.m. on Friday nights — and every hour in between. Worship is a lifestyle.
This is what Paul addressed in Romans 12:1-2. “Therefore, brothers and sisters, in view of the mercies of God, I urge you to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God; this is your true worship.” We don’t just worship when we gather on Sunday mornings with other believers in the local church; we are called to worship 24/7. And, as pastors, we are to lead our people to understand what true worship is. This requires that we are worshipers ourselves. We can’t lead our people to a place we have not been ourselves.
How do we do that? How do we cultivate worship in our own lives so we may lead our people to be worshipers as well? I have four thoughts. None of these are complicated, and they’re certainly not new, but they will help you develop an attitude of worship in your life.
1. Read your Bible
Cultivating worship starts by being in God’s Word consistently — not just for sermon or Bible study preparation, but for our own spiritual formation. This might look like a daily Bible reading plan, or it might simply mean reading through a book of the Bible slowly and methodically, meditating on shorter versions of Scripture. Personally, I recommend the CSB Day-by-Day Chronological Bible edited by George Guthrie. You can find a nearly unlimited number of reading plans on the YouVersion Bible app. The point is not which tool you use; the point is that you are being shaped and molded by God’s Word each and every day.
In 1 Thessalonians 5:17, Paul gives us a simple command: “Pray constantly.” That’s pretty simple. And if arguably the most influential Christian writer of all time tells us we should do something constantly, it seems like we should take heed of it. Obviously, this does not mean that you walk around all day with your head bowed and your eyes closed. Don’t be that guy! It does mean that you maintain an attitude of prayer throughout the day. It means stopping to pray for folks as they pop into your head throughout the day. Spending time in communion with God through prayer will remind you of His compassion and care for you and your church.
3. Spend time in nature
I grew up surrounded by cotton fields in West Texas. The area was flat. Like, really flat. We used to joke that you could sit on your back porch and watch your dog run away for three days! Because I grew up in a flat area, I’ve always been amazed by mountains. I see the glory of God manifested clearly in mountains. Almost three and a half years ago, our family moved to Alamogordo, New Mexico, which just happens to sit at the base of the Sacramento mountains. I see mountains every morning when I look out my front door. It’s a constant reminder of God’s goodness.
So I would encourage you to get out of your office often. Take your Bible and a good book and get out into nature. Read the Word while taking in the sights and sounds and smells of nature. Stare at a few sunsets or sunrises. Spend some time in the woods or at the beach. Be reminded of the glory of God.
4. Spend time with other believers
Finally, if you want to cultivate a lifestyle of worship, spend time with other believers. The most obvious place this happens is in the context of a local church as you gather week in and week out to worship God together through song, through prayer, through the proclamation of the Word, and through communion. But I would counsel you to also find an older believer who exemplifies holiness and spend more time with them. Get to know about their walk with Christ. Learn from their life experiences. See if that doesn’t cause your appreciation for God’s goodness to grow just a bit.
We’ve repeated this often here: Ministry is hard. There is no single magic bullet to spiritual growth or church revitalization. But fostering a lifestyle of worship is essential as you lead your people. So much of church revitalization is about helping your people take their eyes off earthly concerns and getting them focused on heavenly things (Col. 3:2). And we can only do that as pastors as we ourselves get our eyes up.
Published June 27, 2019