Are You a Participant or Spectator

by Dr. David Sampson on June 20, 2017

I have been a sports enthusiast ever since the day I was old enough to throw a ball. Although I played several sports, football was my sport of choice throughout my school days. There was nothing better than being underneath the Friday night lights with my teammates. The anticipation of running onto the field and breaking through a decorated banner while screaming a victor’s yell was exhilarating! The night always brought two different types of people into the stadium—the participants and spectators. The participants are those who are in the game working towards the goal of winning the game. The spectators, however, are fans of the game—cheering and even criticizing those on the field. It always amazed me that those in the stands believe they can officiate, coach, run, catch, and throw the ball better than those on the field. Their mixture of cheering and criticizing divides the people in the stands causing factions among the spectators, while the participants work tirelessly defending and offending their objectives to win the game.

Much like a football game, there are both participants and spectators in the church. While many engage in the work of the ministry, others have settled to be a spectator, either cheering or criticizing; and sometimes they do both. All believers are called to be participants in the church. They are called by God to be obedient worshippers who use their time, talent, and treasure to be on mission with God.

How does one become a participant on the field with God? Let me give you three practical steps that will help you make the transition.

  1. Decide to Submit to God’s Will

You must decide to get out of the stands and in the game with God. Joshua called for all the elders and tribes of Israel to Shechem, in addition to their leaders, judges, and officers to stand before God. Joshua gave this challenging word—And if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD” (Joshua 24:15). Joshua was telling them that they had to choose to submit to God’s will for their life. He had made his choice; now they must decide between the pleasure of the world or the pursuit of God’s will.

  1. Discipline to Study God’s Word

The study of God’s Word is essential to moving from a spectator to a participant. You cannot worship God until you know God. I am not just talking about knowing God intellectually, but also, experientially. Consequently, the only way to know God is by the revelation of Himself revealed in God’s Word—the Bible. Knowing God’s Word opens the door to the principles, precepts, promises, and prophecies of God. However, the value of the Bible is not just knowing it but obeying its truth and applying it to your life. Like a compass to an explorer, the Word of God will point you in the right direction to explore the wonderful truths about God! Dr. David Jeremiah contends, “We become godly by clinging to the great and precious promises in God’s Word. The Bible is God’s tool to make us godly. The Bible is what God has promised to bless and cause to spring up in our lives and bear godly fruit. The Bible is our manual on godliness.”[1]

  1. Determination to Surrender to God in Worship

Besides Jesus, the wisest man to ever live was king Solomon. He was a man known for his wisdom, wealth, and wives. The latter two corrupted his integrity and brought burden-after-burden into his life. When Solomon looked at everything that he had amassed—power, prestige, prominence, and more, he placed them all into the liability column. He came to realize that there was only one thing that mattered in life. Solomon said, “Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man. For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil” (Ecclesiastes 12:13-14). Fearing God means to reverence Him by worshipping God and surrendering to obey His Will. The worship of God is the highest priority of the believer. In fact, this is why we were created—to bring honor and glory to the Lord. We must remember that “worship” is not a noun; it’s a verb that denotes action, connection, and engagement. Each day that I live, I am learning the wonderful value of Dr. David Jeremiah’s words when he said, “As worshiping God becomes our everyday lifestyle experience, we discover that our times together with the family of God take on deeper meaning. In other words, worship is not a one-hour experience once a week! Worship is a moment-by-moment relationship with God that lasts all week long.”[2]

Take a step of faith towards becoming more involved in your church life. Spiritual transformation only comes when participation is your practice. As Paul said, “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord” (1 Corinthians 15:58).

Missional Until He Comes,
Dr. David Sampson
Titus 1:3


[1] David Jeremiah, Captured by Grace: No One Is Beyond the Reach of a Loving God (Study Guide) (San Diego, CA: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2005), 108.

[2] David Jeremiah, My Heart’s Desire: Living Every Moment in the Wonder of Worship (Nashville: Integrity Publishers, 2002), vi–viii.

Back to Inspirational Blog