by Joel Comiskey, 2018
In Groups that Thrive, Jim Egli and I didn’t ask how long the group worship lasted. We simply asked those taking the survey if worship through singing is a part of their normal meetings. So how much worship should be included? We advise asking the Holy Spirit to be your guide. Some groups might want to have meetings with extended times of worship. These times might include other elements like taking communion as a group and praying for one another and your community.
Many leaders feel inadequate to lead worship singing in the group because they think they have to sing like Chris Tomlin or be an expert guitar player. The reality is that God looks at our heart as we sing to him. I’ve experienced group worship times when the members choked out a joyful noise (with an emphasis on noise). But beyond the singing is God himself who dwells in the praises of his people. And he loves to hear worship and respond by revealing his sweet presences. Matt Redman’s famous chorus rings true, “I’m coming back to the heart of worship, and it’s all about you; it’s all about you.” Worship is all about Jesus.
Although spontaneous unplanned worship is wonderful, the best group worship requires diligent planning. The facilitator or member should pick a few songs before the group begins. Print out the words of the songs and then distribute the sheets to everyone in the group. Those who know the songs really well won’t need the sheets, but many will need them.
You don’t need a guitar player to lead worship. You can create a playlist on a smart phone and hook it up to a simple speaker. Many groups use YouTube to supply background singing while the group follows the words on the song sheets. Simple, quality alternatives– that don’t take too much time and effort—are everywhere on the internet.
The person leading worship should give an exhortation to begin the worship time. “Remember that God is looking at your heart,” they might say. “Reflect on the words of the songs while you’re singing and know that above all else, you’re pleasing God.” A simple exhortation like this makes a huge difference in the atmosphere.
It’s a good idea to allow times of silence between songs and following the time of worship singing. Both during and after worship, allow people to pray out loud. Often in Scripture, God manifested his presence through worship, and it’s vitally important to hear from him during this time.
Help your group to become sensitive to God while asking him to show you how to reach non-Christians. Put him first in your group, and he’ll give you a new, dynamic atmosphere that will edify the saints and evangelize unbelievers.
The key is to allow time to focus on who God is and to thank him for all that he has done. Time spent in worship points people to our faithful and generous God and opens them up to hear him and receive all that he is offering to them.