Preparing a Call to Worship: How and Why

The corporate worship gathering is such a vital part of the weekly rhythm within the body of Christ. From prayer to preaching and lifting our voices in song, it is so important as worship leaders that we are intentional with our planning in order that our services help point our people’s affections toward God in worship.

Think for a moment about the people you shepherd on a weekly basis. Many of them work stressful 9-5 jobs throughout the week. Many of them have families and some have just dropped off their crazy, screaming kids in the children’s area. Many of them are broken or in despair. Many of them may be in a desert season. You name it.

As you can imagine, with all the burdens of life it may be difficult for people to show up on a Sunday morning and automatically switch gears to worship God in spirit and truth. In fact, I have personally seen how quickly a congregation can just “go through the motions” of corporate worship when the leaders aren’t intentional in setting the aim and purpose for the worship gathering.

In a day and age where so many distractions are fighting for our attention, one of the best ways we can help center our people’s hearts and minds is through a specific and pointed call to worship. It urges people in our services to turn from worldly distractions and set their minds, hearts, and attention on the glory of God.

God’s Call to Us

In his book, “Christ-Centered Worship,” author Bryan Chappell explains that the call to worship actually begins with God calling us to worship Him. The Greek word ekklesia is used in the New Testament and commonly refers to a called out assembly or congregation. In this, the church consists of people who are called out by God into the perfect salvation He offers through the atoning work of Christ. We are a “chosen race, a royal priesthood, a people for His own possession” that God has purchased, redeemed, and secured.

Before we can call God’s people to worship we have to arrive at the understanding that it is initially God Himself who has called us to worship. Only through this invitation are we able to respond as His people and “proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called us out of darkness into His marvelous light.” Through this realization, when we worship we are doing what God has ultimately called us to do as His people.

Leading His People in Response

After being reminded of God’s call to us, a call to worship sets the tone and helps posture people’s hearts to respond to Him. To be clear, the call to worship isn’t a mini-sermon nor is it a random use of words to get people excited. It is a well thought out exhortation pulled from and rooted in Scripture that helps to center people’s hearts on worshiping Christ alone.

Scriptures such as Psalm 100 are great passages to read out loud to help call our people to turn from worldly distractions and worship God. It says, “Come, let us sing for joy to the Lord, all the earth. Worship the Lord with gladness; come before Him with joyful songs.” Others include Psalm 105:1-3, Colossians 1:15-20, 1 Peter 1:3-5, and Psalm 134:1-2.

Here are a couple brief examples of how a call to worship can be used at the beginning of a worship service. Feel free to make it personal when leading your people to help connect their hearts to where you are going.

1. This morning as we worship let us look to Jesus and be reminded of His goodness and grace to us. As we begin our service we are going to read a passage out of Colossians 1 that encourages us to see Christ for who He is, our King of Kings (read Colossians 1:15-20).

2. Scripture says we are to bless the Lord at all times. As His bride we have the unique opportunity to praise His name together and make much of Him. Let’s read Psalm 34:1-3 as we are reminded and encouraged to magnify the Lord together in this place today.

When we deliver a call to worship in our services we are simply reminding people of who God is and helping them to see Jesus as worthy of all praise. Our congregations don’t simply need a fast opening song, a cool video, or an emotional exhortation to help them to worship. They need the inspired Word of God prompting their hearts to properly respond to the Savior who has already called them by grace to worship His name! Being intentional in using a weekly call to worship will not only serve to shepherd God’s people well, but will also help to pastor people’s hearts away from distraction and toward the glory of Christ.

Jarryd Foreman

About Jarryd Foreman

Jarryd is a Worship Leader and Production Manager at the West and South campuses of the Austin Stone. He lives in Austin with his wife Jessica, and children, Liv and Landry.