Note: After 10 years of writing “View from the Pew,” I will be offering 12 monthly installments in 2024 to round out the collection and end this web log in December. Thank you for reading, and I hope these final expressions are meaningful and helpful.

Church folks are often warned to guard against “just going through the motions” in worship.

The principle behind such instruction is well intentioned. Your worship should be sincere and meaningful.

But what about when it’s not? Should you forgo worship if you “aren’t feeling it” today?

There is a case to be made for going through the motions of worship whether you feel like it or not. Rather than trying to decide if we are “feeling it” when we wake up on Sunday morning, we should wait to ask ourselves that question until we have arrived at the sanctuary for the service. Then, in those quiet few moments of the prelude, we can run a self-diagnostic to understand where our head is.

I find it helpful to begin with gratitude. A former pastor introduced our congregation to his habit of listing off what he was thankful for as the organ chimes the hour at the beginning of the service, one item for each chime. That simple act helped re-frame the experience from an obligation to an opportunity. Being thankful reminds us that we have a compelling reason to worship.

One of the benefits of liturgy—and all churches have a liturgy, even if it’s a free-form, spontaneous assortment of singing, praying, testifying, reading scripture, and preaching—is that we can follow along no matter our state of mind.

It’s part of the reason I like a structured worship service. I can “fake it until I make it,” following the order of worship by muscle memory. I then find myself suddenly in a worshipful state, more aware of the presence of God than when I started.

There’s a debate among the good habits people out there about whether action follows attitude or vice versa. I believe it’s situational. When it comes to worship, it’s entirely plausible that we may not be in an attitude of worship until we begin the actions associated with worship.

I am not a good singer, but standing with a hymnal and singing the words to “The Servant Song” touches me emotionally, opening my closed off feelings to express sincere desires:

We are pilgrims on a journey,
We are trav’lers on the road;
We are here to help each other
Walk the mile and bear the load.

Even in the driest of seasons in our spiritual lives, something unexpected and meaningful can happen if we just show up and start doing what we know to do. It’s the motions that can kick-start our worship.

And this Holy Week, there are many opportunities to engage in worship that you may not be feeling ready for at the beginning. Some of the faith’s most important rituals occur during Holy Week, and I would encourage you to make time for the rituals and see where they take you.

After all, isn’t that what rituals are for?

Lance Wallace is a Baptist layperson and member of Parkway Baptist Church in Johns Creek, GA, does higher education marketing and communications at his day job, and blogs at

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