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Sundays Filled with Reverence and Awe

When it comes to church-going in our modern culture, the days of dressing up “in your Sunday best” are largely gone. Coffee is now sipped (and unfortunately spilled) during service times, and showing up late and leaving church early is commonplace and often tolerated.

There is a certain casualness to many Sunday services in the US.

Many would argue this is a good thing. It creates an environment that is more open to everyone, that gives grace, and that meets people where they are. 

On the other hand, you might argue it reflects a lower view of the local church’s role in peoples’ lives—something that folks casually show up to and casually leave when it no longer suits them.

Wherever you land on a more relaxed church culture, now is not the time to rewind 100 years to get back to “the good old days.” Rather, the conversation for today should be about how we can rewind 2000 years to ensure we are aligning with what the Bible has to say about our attitude toward local church gatherings.

Hebrews 12:28 prescribes for us worship that is acceptable and filled with reverence and awe. What should we do as church leaders to make that a reality each and every Sunday? And not just a reality in outward practice, but a reality in the hearts of our congregation?

Here are some thoughts to encourage you as you consider just that:


When it comes to reverence and awe in our church services, few places provide a better starting point than the Gospel—and specifically the precious truth of conversion.

It’s remarkable that being born again gets so little air-time in our day, but at the same time it isn’t that remarkable at all. Nicodemus couldn’t comprehend being born again when Jesus spoke to him about it in John 3:3, and the same is true for many inside and outside the walls of the church today. 

Many of the best Gospel presentations end after God, Man, Christ, Response (to borrow a common 4-part Gospel presentation). For a truly reverential Response, we would do well to remind believers just what a precious gift it is to be born again—and what that means for their desires and life following conversion.

Giving a clear picture of this glorious truth is step one of exhorting God’s people to live differently in light of their calling. It fuels their resolve to press on to know the Lord. It creates a community of believers who press on to confirm the call they received (2 Peter 2:10).


Discipleship is the heartbeat of a thriving church community, echoing Jesus’ command in Matthew 28:19-20 to “go and make disciples of all nations.” It’s not just about gathering for an hour on Sundays but about living out the Gospel in our daily lives. The call to discipleship is a call to follow Jesus, to be transformed by Him, and to actively engage in the process of becoming more like Him.

Discipleship involves intentional relationships where believers encourage and challenge one another to grow in their faith. We as church leaders play a crucial role in fostering a culture of discipleship within our congregations, following the example of Paul’s mentoring relationship with Timothy (2 Timothy 2:2).

On a very practical level, this means promoting discipleship in and through small groups or Sunday school classes where members can discuss the Word, share struggles, and pray for one another (Hebrews 10:24-25). We should prioritize opportunities for mentorship and accountability that create ripe soil for the fruitful born-again life.

Attending a Leadership Journey training with BCP would also be an excellent way to get started on the path toward a more seriously intentional discipleship culture.

Awe-Filled Prayer

If we’re looking for awe and reverence, few activities would better serve our purpose than prayer.

It is very difficult to be casual before the Lord when we go to Him in need and worship through times of prayer.

Encouraging heartfelt, sincere, and expectant prayers during services can transform the atmosphere of worship from something that is ordinary to something that is extraordinary.

Leaders can model authentic prayer lives and teach the congregation to approach God with reverence and expectation. Prayer should never be spoken of as some light and passing thing, but instead as a powerful means of connecting with God, seeking His will, and cultivating a right spirit of awe and dependence upon Him.

Reverence for the Word

Some of us have memories of growing up in households where the Bible was not allowed to touch the ground or be mishandled in any way.

However Pharisaical that may seem, it does at the very least serve to communicate a spiritual truth through a physical means. 

Reverence for God’s Word is foundational to a worship service filled with awe. The Bible is not just a collection of stories and teachings; it is the living and active Word of God. Church leaders should prioritize expository preaching that unpacks the truths of Scripture in such a way so as to encourage faithful obedience to it (James 1:22).

The Word should be read out loud often and with all the gravitas and respect it is rightly due. When the Word is central on Sundays, hearts are opened to its transformative power, and reverence naturally becomes a hallmark of worship.

So should sweatpants be allowed on Sundays? Should local churches stop offering free coffee? 

Let us not get caught up in these diversions. 

We have bigger matters to attend to.

Baptist Church Planters exists to help church leaders build healthy disciple-making churches. If you or your church need support or resources to love God and love others, please reach out to us today. We’d love to help.