Every church, whether traditional, formal, contemporary, or free-flowing, should meet for one reason: to worship God. After all, it is the chief end of man to glorify God and enjoy Him forever according 1 Corinthians 10:31 and Psalm 73:25-26. Yet, I have noticed that in many different churches in America and around the world, there is a lack of power that God intended for them to have.
How can we get more of the presence of God in our churches?
I believe if we diligently use the three specific values below as the grid by which we evaluate our own church’s services, we can increase the capacity of our congregation to experience the presence of God each time we meet.
1. Orient the Worship Toward God and His Satisfaction.
People-pleasing has never worked in the Kingdom of God. Neither has ignoring the needs of people. The tension between these two has existed since the church began; that is because both have value.
The “Us-Four-and-No-More church” ignores the needs of the people out of their desire to please God. As noble as this desire sounds, this type of church does not grow and becomes less earthly good.
The “Gotta-Get-Em-In-Here church” tends to pour resources toward the latest, greatest, and best to lure people to its sanctuary. The “wow factor” can be very effective and churches may grow in number quickly. Yet, if not careful, they can find themselves lacking in encountering God’s presence and moving people forward in true discipleship.
Today’s church must marry these two streams of focus. A healthy balance can be struck as we focus on God and only do what we see Him doing (John 5:19), while keeping an eye toward being relevant and attractive to the culture. Jesus’ teachings were always relevant to the crowd. Most parts of the service should be planned to please God, while other parts should be oriented toward unbelievers. Paul prescribed an order that speaks to balancing church services to accommodate both members and newcomers.
2. Ensure Your Worship Flows Out of Prayer and Devotion.
Pastors should provide multiple opportunities for people to pray and grow in their devotion to God. As leaders, we cannot assume that everyone is growing in spiritual maturity. We have the mandate to turn hearts toward God in prayer and worship. We should evaluate how much time is spent on Him in a unique way by the majority of our congregation.
With the pressures of careers, family, and ministry, people need worship places and times that can work with all they juggle. Providing times of prayer for them during their lunch hour, early morning prayer before they go to work, or all-night-prayer-watches, can provide times of concentrated focus. If devotion to God is fostered among the people, they will quickly set their sights on things above.
God responds to hearts that are longing for Him, both in individual and corporate worship settings.
3. Create an Environment That Has an Absence of Conflict.
Unity begins at the head and flows down (Psalm133). It brings blessings from God and everlasting life. As a pastor, I need to spend time with leaders and give them time to bring issues to the table in a safe environment. As we experience God’s answers together, the anointing that flows from God to me will continue to move across the leadership team. As we seek God’s heart and command His blessings on our work, they will receive an enduring deposit of His vision for our church.
When groups of people come together, there will be opposing opinions. Therefore, instruct your congregation to take anyone aside who they are having struggles with. In this manner, the body can be one when ministering. Being on one accord means each person must die to self, providing a foundation for the sacrifice of praise.
We can labor in our services with all our energy, yet not see the results we so desire. I believe God’s evident presence will increase exponentially as we work to put these guidelines in place.
As we look up, “pray up” and “hook up,” I know the God factor will intensify in our services.