What’s the first part of your church’s worship services? Chances are, it’s a call to worship—even if your church doesn’t actually refer to it as a call to worship.
What is a call to worship?
Simply put, a call to worship is the beginning of a worship service that “calls God’s people into his presence” with “a Scripture or anthem that focuses on God and helps us ‘tune in.’”
While a pastor or worship leader may issue the call to worship, it’s actually a call from God to his people, as Michael Goheen says in his course on pastoral ministry. He continues,
It’s not something they have decided to do because it is a good idea, it’s because God has called them to assemble and to worship. . . . It can also be a call to the people of God to come into the presence of God to be nourished so that the very life that they are given is for the sake of the world.
This time helps the congregation refocus on why they’re gathered:
- To worship the living God
- To remember God’s greatness, kindness, and power
- To worship with others in the body of Christ by the power of the Spirit
The call to worship is a powerful component of the worship service—and regardless of what your church calls it, it’s a great way to turn distracted eyes and hearts toward God.
16 call to worship Scriptures
One of the best ways to plan your church’s call to worship is by turning to Scripture.
The book of Psalms models the call to worship for us, as the psalmists often open (or interject) with calls to praise God amid trials, grief, victories, or remembering their history (Pss 27, 99, 105, 132, 135, to name a few).
You can open the Psalms to find calls to worship, or scroll through this list of 16 passages of calls to worship from Scripture:
Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!
“For who has known the mind of the Lord,
or who has been his counselor?”
“Or who has given a gift to him
that he might be repaid?”
For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.
Psalm 99:1–3 (CSB)
The LORD reigns! Let the peoples tremble.
He is enthroned between the cherubim.
Let the earth quake.
The LORD is great in Zion;
he is exalted above all the peoples.
Let them praise your great
and awe-inspiring name.
He is holy.
Call to worship idea: Read the whole psalm together and invite the congregation to read a few lines of the psalm aloud in unison.
Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good,
for his steadfast love endures forever.
Give thanks to the God of gods,
for his steadfast love endures forever.
Give thanks to the Lord of lords,
for his steadfast love endures forever.
Call to worship idea: Read the whole Psalm together. The worship leader or pastor can read the odd-numbered lines, and the congregation can repeat the refrain, “for his steadfast love endures forever.”
John 15:4–5, 9–10 (CSB)
Remain in me, and I in you. Just as a branch is unable to produce fruit by itself unless it remains on the vine, neither can you unless you remain in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. The one who remains in me and I in him produces much fruit, because you can do nothing without me. . . . As the Father has loved me, I have also loved you. Remain in my love. If you keep my commands you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. I have told you these things so that my joy may be in you and your joy may be complete.
O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you;
my soul thirsts for you;
my flesh faints for you,
as in a dry and weary land where there is no water.
So I have looked upon you in the sanctuary,
beholding your power and glory.
Because your steadfast love is better than life,
my lips will praise you.
So I will bless you as long as I live;
in your name I will lift up my hands.
And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”
And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” And he said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give from the spring of the water of life without payment.”
Psalm 138:1–3 (CSB)
I will give you thanks with all my heart;
I will sing your praise before the heavenly beings.
I will bow down toward your holy temple
and give thanks to your name
for your constant love and truth.
You have exalted your name
and your promise above everything else.
On the day I called, you answered me;
you increased strength within me.
Call to worship idea: Read the whole psalm together and invite the congregation to read a few lines of the psalm aloud.
Isaiah 55:1–3, 6–7 (NIV)
Come, all you who are thirsty,
come to the waters;
and you who have no money,
come, buy and eat!
Come, buy wine and milk
without money and without cost.
Why spend money on what is not bread,
and your labor on what does not satisfy?
Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good,
and you will delight in the richest of fare.
Give ear and come to me;
listen, that you may live.
I will make an everlasting covenant with you,
my faithful love promised to David. . . .
Seek the LORD while he may be found;
call on him while he is near.
Let the wicked forsake their ways
and the unrighteous their thoughts.
Let them turn to the LORD, and he will have mercy on them,
and to our God, for he will freely pardon.
Make a joyful noise to the LORD, all the earth!
Serve the LORD with gladness!
Come into his presence with singing!
Know that the LORD, he is God!
It is he who made us, and we are his;
we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.
Enter his gates with thanksgiving,
and his courts with praise!
Give thanks to him; bless his name!
For the LORD is good;
his steadfast love endures forever,
and his faithfulness to all generations.
Hebrews 12:18–19, 22–29 (CSB)
For you have not come to what could be touched, to a blazing fire, to darkness, gloom, and storm, to the blast of a trumpet, and the sound of words. . . . Instead, you have come to Mount Zion, to the city of the living God (the heavenly Jerusalem), to myriads of angels, a festive gathering, to the assembly of the firstborn whose names have been written in heaven, to a Judge, who is God of all, to the spirits of righteous people made perfect, and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood, which says better things than the blood of Abel.
See to it that you do not reject the one who speaks. For if they did not escape when they rejected him who warned them on earth, even less will we if we turn away from him who warns us from heaven. His voice shook the earth at that time, but now he has promised, “Yet once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens.” This expression, “Yet once more,” indicates the removal of what can be shaken—that is, created things—so that what is not shaken might remain. Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful. By it, we may serve God acceptably, with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire.
Psalm 66:16–20 (NIV)
Come and hear, all you who fear God;
let me tell you what he has done for me.
I cried out to him with my mouth;
his praise was on my tongue.
If I had cherished sin in my heart,
the Lord would not have listened;
but God has surely listened
and has heard my prayer.
Praise be to God,
who has not rejected my prayer
or withheld his love from me!
Exodus 15:1–2, 11–13
I will sing to the LORD, for he has triumphed gloriously;
the horse and his rider he has thrown into the sea.
The LORD is my strength and my song,
and he has become my salvation;
this is my God, and I will praise him,
my father’s God, and I will exalt him. . . .
Who is like you, O LORD, among the gods?
Who is like you, majestic in holiness,
awesome in glorious deeds, doing wonders?
You stretched out your right hand;
the earth swallowed them.
You have led in your steadfast love the people whom you have redeemed;
you have guided them by your strength to your holy abode.
Oh sing to the LORD a new song;
sing to the LORD, all the earth!
Sing to the LORD, bless his name;
tell of his salvation from day to day.
Declare his glory among the nations,
his marvelous works among all the peoples!
For great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised;
he is to be feared above all gods.
Great and amazing are your deeds,
O Lord God the Almighty!
Just and true are your ways,
O King of the nations!
Who will not fear, O Lord,
and glorify your name?
For you alone are holy.
All nations will come
and worship you,
for your righteous acts have been revealed.
My heart is steadfast, O God!
I will sing and make melody with all my being!
Awake, O harp and lyre!
I will awake the dawn!
I will give thanks to you, O LORD, among the peoples;
I will sing praises to you among the nations.
For your steadfast love is great above the heavens;
your faithfulness reaches to the clouds.
Be exalted, O God, above the heavens!
Let your glory be over all the earth!
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