The Call to Worship: What’s the Point?


What is a Call to Worship? If you didn’t grow up in a church that had a more formal service, the words “Call to Worship” might sound strange. That’s probably due to a difference in how different churches use the word ‘worship.’ 

In many churches, ‘worship’ refers to the part of a church service where everyone sings.  While we don’t think worship is less than that, we also think there’s more to it. As we discussed in part 1, we think the entirety of a church service is actually what we would call ‘corporate worship.  And from beginning to end, a corporate worship service is meant to reorient our hearts to who God is and what he has done. 

A lot of churches might just call that idea of corporate worship, ‘church.’  And that would be right too.  We try to talk about it as corporate worship because we think it’s vitally important to remind ourselves not just of who God is and what he’s done, but also of the fact that everything in this world entices us to worship it.  Or if we use the term ‘church’ instead of worship – everything in this world entices us and invites us to ‘church’ it.  Everything invites us to come in and learn, hope, wonder and rejoice in what it thing is and what it promises do for us. 

It’s not that God calls us to worship him and other things don’t.  It’s that everything calls us to worship, but everything except God calls us to worship at counterfeit church.  To put it a little more provocatively, the difference between the world’s call and God’s call is that everything except God invites us to a church of the dead.  It’s promises look like life, but lead to death (Pr. 14:12).   It’s hope is dead.  It’s wonder is dead. It’s joy is dead.  It’s worship is dead because it is rooted in something other than God, who alone has and gives life (Deut. 32:39; Neh. 9:6; John 1:3-4; 5:26)

But God invites us into a church of the living (Mark 12:26-27). Like the world, God invites us to learn, hope, wonder and rejoice in who he is and what he promises do for us – but he actually delivers on his promises and brings us out of death into life (John 5:21).  His hope is alive, because Christ is alive and He is our hope.  It’s wonder is alive because Christ is the wonder of God’s salvation and He is alive.  It’s joy is alive because… you guessed it, Christ is our joy and He is alive. 

The call to worship is not a call to a dead, stale faith – even if we sometimes read it’s words and hear its promises that way.  It’s a call to participate in a living hope (1 Pe. 1:3) – the only living hope, made available to us by grace, through faith in Jesus Christ our Savior.   

Our call to worship helps us remember that.  It helps us remember that whatever we’ve pursued for life this week, it’s God alone who has life and he graciously offers that life to everyone who calls on the name of Lord (Rom. 10:13).  It helps us remember he’s called us to be part of the church of the living and that nothing can stop him from making us a part of it (Rom. 8:35-39), not even our own sinful hearts (Eph. 2:4-5). 

This is the point of our call to worship, to corporately hear, remember and receive God’s  invitation to be a part of the church of the living.   

Travis lives with his wonderful wife, Esther, in NE DC. He's attending seminary and trying to learn what it means to love God and love people as a future pastor.

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