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9Marks Explained : A Letter From Mark Dever

How Members Can Serve the Church on Sunday Morning


At the Trellis and Vine Workshop in DC today, Colin Marshall shared ways that ordinary church members can serve the church on Sunday mornings.

Before the Service

  • Read the passage in advance
  • Pray for the gathering
  • Greet newcomers (act like you are the host)
  • Think strategically about who you should sit with
  • Arrive Early

During the Service

  • Sing with gusto (even if you can’t sing)
  • Help with logistics (if there’s a problem, help fix it)
  • Don’t be distracted
  • Listen carefully
  • Be aware of your facial expressions (you may affect others and discourage preachers)

After the Service

  • Connect newcomers with others
  • Get newcomers information
  • Start a conversation about the sermon
  • Ask someone how they became a Christian
  • Stay late

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Excellent thoughts! Too many of us (me included) approach Sunday mornings as a spectator sport. We watch football on Saturday, church on Sunday.

How many of us are gathering our things during the benediction and rushing to beat the lunch crowd?

Great suggestions!

May I have permission to translate and put this on my personal blog for French readers?

Sounds great, what's the address of your blog?

So to summarize: think about the sermon beforehand, show up early, smile, sing and pay attention during the sermon and then stick around for a few minutes afterward to talk about the sermon. How exactly is that serving the church in any real fashion?


I guess it depends on how you think about serving the church. I think paying careful attention to the word and helping to encourage others in their growth in Christ is a huge service to the church. I'd love a church full of people who served in these ways.


So we are serving by observing? It seems that what is being described is one man "serving" while the rest of the church is watching with a cheery visage. I would rather a church full of people who are actively serving one another, who are actual participants, who are not only permitted but expected to speak instead of subcontracting all of the ministry to one man.

Because church isn't all about having one's own personal needs met. Neither, as Beth wrote, is it a spectator sport. We meet together as the temple of God, as priests of the New Covenant, who have been called together to be the body of Christ. Perhaps it's the Westernized individualism of the day that's made the presence of the suggestions on this blog few and far between. I can hardly imagine the early Christians not implementing these suggestions! "And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers" Acts 2:42; "Now the multitude of those who believed were of one heart and one soul; neither did anyone say that any of the things he possessed was his own, but they had all things in common" Acts 4:32

And I don't think anyone is saying "stay after a few minutes" either. "Late" isn't only a "few minutes"...

So here's how some of the things you mentioned can serve the church
Show up early- if you're scrambling into your seats as the service is starting you definitely can't greet visitors, which is serving the church by helping out those who have been asked to be especially available to do that (not all churches have greeters, but most do)
Smile- isn't it encouraging to be around somebody cheerful- encouraging is serving somebody else, like the Church
Pay attention during the sermon- what Pastor wants to give his sermon to people who are totally uninterested while he's talking?
Stick around for a few minutes afterward- you can (again) encourage people when you talk to them, which you can't do when you're rushing out the door- you can often find ways to help cleanup, or prepare for another service if you look around

So answer your question by showing exactly how you can serve the church in these ways

I absolutely loved the simplicity of this post. Great thoughts about Sunday morning. I often ask our people and the men I work with in the field of addiction are you a consumer or a contributor? Thanks for sharing.

Thank you for this post. I found it very helpful. Small things we don't often think about can make a big difference in how we worship and help to encourage others. Thanks again and may God bless everyone with a worship service tomorrow that will bring all the glory to God. :)

We are not called to serve the Church, we are called to serve Christ.. Great evil has been done throughout history by those who serve a church. Serving the church can degenerate into serving the creature. Rom 1. We are called to love the brethren fervently, that is the Church. If we serve Christ we will do naturally the things that are required. we will show love to those in the Church meeting but also during the week we will visit them. We will pray before the service for all things pertaining to the service but preferably we will meet the night before with other Christians for the day ahead. If we love the Lord we will sing to him in the Spirit ie. in the power of God. But not if we cannot sing or we will put others off, it is best then to sing quietly until you master the tune. God has made you to sing he will help you if you are sincerely desiring to serve him.
When you sit down do not block entrance to the seats to others, regard others better than yourself and be considerate.
The Paster is not there to be encouraged. He is there to edify others and encourage them. Many people come into Church with many troubles, generally more than the pastor's. Make sure you have read the Bible from cover to cover and put it into practice. You are supposed to know the Scriptures well enough to be able to judge whether the Pastor is teaching correctly or not .Encourage your paster by praying for him.

Actually Neil, Galatians 5:13 tells us to "serve one another in love." We are to serve Christ above all, but we are also to serve each other (i.e, "the church").

As to your comments about singing, I have to say I'd rather hear a congregation praising God with a joyful heart and poor singing voices than have a sanctuary full of people "singing quietly." Maybe those quiet singers are sincere in their hearts, but it doesn't come across that way.

As to the pastor not being there to be encouraged, I Thess 5:11 says to "encourage one another and build each other up." Pastors are no different from their parishioners in needing encouragement. They're regular people too, you know.

Neil, we are indeed called to serve Christ, and we are called to build up the body of Christ, the Church. (Romans 1 does not address the subject of any link between service (rendering service to) to the Church and behaviors characteristic of unbelief as Paul graphically illustrates.) The article was not referring to the worship of an institution.

How do you personally build up other believers? Is it not through prayer, encouragement and kind deeds, and through godly living before them? Is it not through the sharing of the Word (encouraging others to go deeper in the Word, i.e., starting a conversation about the sermon, etc.) and sharing with others practical application ideas from your life, to encourage them to grow and begin to "connect the dots" in their own lives? This all takes prayer, time, energy, patience, money (take someone out to eat, help someone through a tight financial period) and the use of one's spiritual gifts.

If we are truly motivated to do all that we do to the glory of God (1 Cor. 10:31), and recognize that Jesus regards acts of kindness and ministry done to other believers as being done unto Him (Matthew 25:40), how else can we show our love for His Church than to shower His people with love and kindness, considering them more important than ourselves? Is that not what Paul encouraged us to do in Philippians 2:3-4: "Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others."

Jesus said we would be recognized as His followers by the love we show for one another. That love is most clearly expressed by serving one another (the Church, the body of Christ), all the while recognizing that our efforts are to bring glory to our Master and Lord (the Head).

In regard to the pastor, of course his primary function is not to be a receptacle for extravagant praise, but he in no way does not benefit from encouragement at all. I truly do not understand your comments, which at least on the surface seem to suggest that the Body should not encourage their leaders. Noting Paul's counsel to Timothy in his letters, it would seem to demonstrate that pastors should receive encouragement, because they have much different pressures and challenges than the laity, even if they do not wear them or announce them publicly.
The pastor's responsibilities go far beyond "edifying and encouraging", as it is his responsibility to
"equip the saints for the work of service" (Ephesians 4:12). It is one thing to get people to come to a worship service, but something far different to lead and prepare people for active service. It does not just happen; people need equipping. Have you ever asked your pastor about his personal struggles and prayer needs? We should pray for our pastors. Should we not care enough to ask our pastors/leaders if there are specific needs they have? We do the same for others, don't we?

Finally, there is a vast difference between serving the Church (the Body) and serving "a church." We are certainly not called to serve an institution; the Church is a living organism, birthed by God.

I f you seek to glorify Christ through obedient living, you will find yourself encouraging, loving, challenging and giving of yourself to the saints. You will serve (render service to) others as you serve (are a slave to ) Christ.


a personal testimony. once I was worshiping God in during the music part of the church service. In my mind I was asking God..."I wonder what you look like? I want to see you." I distinctly remember God speaking to me and telling me..."look around you at the people. This is who I am."
I thank God for that moment in my youth that I take with me. The gospel is mostly 'do's' not 'don't's'. I encourage you to take a look around you and ask God to help you see these people through His eyes. Merciful and Compassionate even when they are at their worst.

I agree. I've heard this said many times: If you want a better pastor, pray for the one you have.
That might go as well for members.

This is great! Thanks, Mike. Neil's comment about blocking seats reminds me of our continual encouragement during renovations to sit in the front and middle so that visitors can have those easy to grab back and aisle seats.

Greetings from Bosnia Church. I would also wanted to share this on my site so if I can translated that would be great.
"If you want a better pastor, pray for the one you have. "That might go as well for members.

This is something that we forget so many times. And I could agree more about it.

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Thanks a million and please carry on the gratifying work.

True and False that many of the institutions on which human achievements rest have arisen and are functioning without a designing

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