My last post reminded me of a visitor we had to our church a couple years ago. I got a call on Saturday from "Mark" who was driving through town and was looking for a place to worship with his son. They were in the middle of a regular father-son trip. He didn't call to confirm the time of the services and directions, but to ask what I was preaching on. He explained that he and his son wanted to read the passage that night and prepare themselves for worship tomorrow. I gave him the difficult passage in Jeremiah and explained a bit about where I would be coming from. He was very appreciative and said he would be praying for me as well. I kept thinking, "Man, this guy actually prepares for worship!" This father was teaching his son something invaluable concerning the gathered worship of God's people. I was impressed and encouraged.
Probably very few people take the time to prepare themselves for worship the night before the Lord's Day. To be quiet. To ask God to convict, challenge, direct, and conform them when they gather in the morning. To meditate on the Scripture to be preached. To pray for the church and pastor.
One concern I have is that many Christians view worship as the launch pad for the rest of the week. Rather, it should be the whole week, all of our service, ministry and work that is leading up to the gathered church glorifying God. This does not minimize the importance of the six other days. It gives them a focused end. Yes, private and family worship happens throughout the week, but Christ has died to gather for himself a people for his own possession who together proclaim his excellencies. We are meant for community, redeemed into community, and Sunday is the most brilliant picture of this we have. In our worship the community gathers, God speaks to us all, his people are both humbled and exalted, our prayers rise up to God together as a pleasing aroma, we share the bread and wine, we sing for the joy of our salvation, and we hear testimony of God's work in each other's lives. This is no small thing. This is something we should prepare ourselves for; something we must teach our children, by example, to prepare themselves for.
So, that Sunday morning Mark and his son arrived to join us in worship. I had no idea it was Mark Dever, pastor of Capitol Hill Baptist Church, until they walked in the front door. He offered encouraging words that day to us as we chatted after worship. Most encouraging to me was knowing that a man and his son were preparing for worship the night before, and getting a peek into the life of a well known pastor many of us really respect. All would do well if they would read his books, or at least spend some time at his ministry site 9 Marks.org.
I am leaving early tomorrow for the Together for the Gospel Conference where Mark Dever, Al Mohler, Ligon Duncan and C.J. Mahaney will be preaching. It should be excellent.