Inside Out: Be Present and Active — We “worship”, we don’t “attend worship” — 5/22/24

Inside Out: Be Present and Active — We “worship”, we don’t “attend worship” — 5/22/24


“Inside Out” : Come Ready to Worship

Ever find you’ve gotten to church, but your mind is someplace else?

“We want to urge people: get your heart and your mind ready before worship so that you can be spiritually engaged when you get there,” says the Rev. Alex Mark. He’s the senior pastor of First Scots Presbyterian Church of America in Beaufort, South Carolina.

He encourages us to focus on the privilege we have when we gather to worship God. “The most fundamental thing we need to realize is how important worship really is,” he says. “Our worship today is actually even more awesome than what they saw at Sinai. Because instead of having Moses as worship leader, we have Jesus. Instead of being kept at a distance, we are commanded to draw near.”


Mark is the author of The Gospel Coalition article “Ready for Church: 5 Ways to Be Present in Worship.” Family Life’s Martha Manikas-Foster talks with the pastor about actively engaging in worshiping God.

Foundational to our worship is remembering who deserves our focus.  “We are meeting with the living God. We are being led in worship by the Lord Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit is with us. And then I think the practical things flow from that. That’s one of the things sin does—it just distorts our whole worldview. We become more concerned with whether we’re satisfied than whether God is glorified,” he says.

 “The goal of worship isn’t to worship in a way that costs us nothing,” he adds. “Worship should cost us, because it’s a display from our hearts to the world of the incredible value and worth of God.

 He suggests several ways we can engage spiritually while at church. 

“We want to fight distraction,” he says. “My attention span has to be an offering to God. I want to give it to Him. Sing heartily in worship. I am tone deaf and musically illiterate. It is not a good combination. It’s not the quality of our voices that make our worship acceptable to God. It’s what Jesus has done for us.”

 He also points out that we can only apply the lessons of a sermon when we’ve listened to it.

 “Engage with the sermon. You know, Satan doesn’t mind us being under the Word, as long as we’re not paying attention to it. And so we’ve got the duty to really listen carefully to the ministry of the Word and then make it our goal for the week to put our preacher’s words into action.”

 The Rev. Alex Mark reminds us that worship isn’t always led from the front of the church. It includes supporting and cheering on others in the pews. 

 “One of the reasons we gather together is to encourage each other,” he reminds us. “Encouraging each other, I think, really means we’re intentional to care for one another’s souls, and to make it our purpose to help one another love and savor Jesus Christ more.”


Listen to our 17-minute conversation in this Family Life Inside Out podcast.

Read the article that inspired this conversation on the Gospel Coalition website

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