Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. (Heb 10:23-24)
We are commanded (it’s not a suggestion!) to meet together regularly to encourage each other and hold fast together to the hope we confess. Other passages instruct us (contrary to many modern church gatherings) that you cannot be a spectator at the gathering. You must take part. And while this includes active listening, it goes far beyond this.
All throughout the Bible, there are classes of people who teach and proclaim the word of God (“thus says the Lord…”), whether they are priests, prophets or teaching elders. When we come to the preaching of the Lord’s word we must be like the Bereans who received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so. (Acts 17:11) Thus we expect people to open their Bibles during the preaching, follow the passages and test the teaching against the Bible. Furthermore, James 1:22 instructs us that we must be ready and willing to “do” the word (obey and put it into action) and not be hearers only.
Free resources available at NWCC include: “How do you listen to a sermon?” worksheet available in the foyer display.
The Bible is absolutely chock-full of references to singing to God. The interesting thing is that the Bible assumes that singing is a natural part of joyful celebration and thanksgiving. In other words, singing isn’t optional! We encourage you to apply yourself to learning the songs we sing to God. Take note of the words. Many of them are direct scripture. And even those that aren’t are a means of experiencing and reinforcing biblical truth. We will be singing to the Father and the Lamb throughout eternity. Let’s start now!
Biblically, prayer is a necessary part of the church’s gathered purpose (Acts 2:42). While some people may have a harder time praying out loud, believers must mature to the point that they can share in this necessary part of church life. We have a time of prayer in small groups almost every week after our service. Take the full allotted time (it isn’t that long) and learn to listen and agree with others in prayer. Pray shorter prayers and be ready to pray more than once.
Free resources available at NWCC include: “How to Pray in Groups” worksheet available in the foyer display.
Our times of open prayer and praise in our gatherings, although at least somewhat unique among North American churches, is both scriptural and practiced in many, less institutionalized churches in the world. We want to follow the instructions of Col 3:16 and 1 Cor 14:26 which assume the involvement of all believers, not just the “approved” worshipers on the platform. Your participation will lead you into using the word of God more effectively in your own life, the lives of other believers and even those outside the church in evangelism. Will Willimon says in Proclamation and Theology:
Much Christian worship ought to be predicated on the premise that , if we can get a group of ordinary, otherwise voiceless people to strut their stuff before the throne of God on Sunday, we will be able to do the same before the city council, or the Pentagon, or the administration on Monday. (p27)
Furthermore, our open praise and prayer time is an opportunity to be taught disciplines in using the word and prayer. Be careful to listen to the instructions every time. What is our purpose? Are we focusing on praise/thanks/petition? What are we using; the psalms, the entire Bible, a particular portion? Who is our subject? Is it open or are we addressing the Son, the Father, the Holy Spirit?
And by all mean- take part. Don’t be shy. If you are shy in front of your brothers and sisters, how will you be bold in the face of a sometimes hostile world?