Hey!  Worship!

That’s a call to worship.  It’s something that gets the congregation’s attention (“Hey!”) and then invites them to worship (“Worship!”).  That particular call to worship is primitive. I don’t recommend that you use it next Sunday morning.  A good call to worship focuses our attention on something about God, his character or what he has done.  As we contemplate, our hearts instinctively move to to worship, so the next part of the call to worship is an invitation to do that.  Where can we find calls to worship?  Of course the psalms are full of them.  Psalm 95, Psalm 100, the list goes on.  Often the opening stanza of a psalm of praise makes for a great call to worship.  Although I prefer to use scripture in opening up a time of sung worship, you can also do it more informally, but just sharing something praiseworthy about God, and then inviting people to respond in worship.

Some songs can act as a call to worship.  Of course, Brian Doerksen’s “Come, Now is the Time To Worship” is a perfect (though perhaps over-used) example.  But there are many others.

Here are 10 things to think about when crafting your call to worship:

  1. It calls the congregation together in unity and reminds them of why they’ve gathered
  2. It presents some aspect of God that moves us to respond in worship
  3. It should engage both the intellect and the emotions
  4. It should be simple and brief – it ain’t the sermon
  5. It should be focused on God, not a funny thing that happened to you on the way to church
  6. It should include scripture, if not quoted, it should be referred to.  Such as “Psalm 27 tells us that the Lord is our light, our salvation and our stronghold.  That even in the midst of war we can be confident in him.  Let’s lift our voices together and worship our God and protector.”
  7. Challenging passages that require explanation and giving context should probably be avoided.  I have yet to hear an inspiring and concise call to worship from Leviticus.  Not that there’s anything wrong with Leviticus, but there are other times in the service where it can be used.
  8. It should be practiced and delivered with confidence and feeling – practice it as much as you practice a song.
  9. It should be connected somehow to the opening song.  It should tell why we are singing the opening song.
  10. I recommend that the congregation stand for this.  It is a signal that the service has begun and it also indicates that something important is happening.  And what’s more important than worship?

If you put thought into your call to worship you’ll bless your entire congregation.  For examples of calls to worship check out the or the worship sourcebook.