Obama, wife Michelle and their daughters sat in the second row at Nineteenth Street Baptist Church, nearly two miles north of the White House.
They received a standing ovation during the welcome, with dozens of worshippers gathering around to shake the Obamas' hands and take pictures.
The senior pastor, Rev. Dr. Derrick Harkins, joked that he didn't realize so many people were sitting in the front section. The pastor repeated "Amen" in a call for people to return to their seats.
The service included a sermon titled "Resurrection Realities" and a praise dance and trumpet-led hymn.