How to – get the most out of a church service
Recently I have been thinking about my attitude towards the church service.
Though I have ways that I grow in my relationship with Jesus, the service times at church has not been one of them. Now, it would be easy for me to go down the slippery path of saying how everything is not my “style” and therefore blaming everyone else except me … the one person who should be most willing to make a change.
I need to make this clear, even though the teaching is not something that deeply challenges me like I want, it is still the word of God being expressed (don’t get me wrong, it is practical as well and our main preacher does well). And, even though the kind of music being played is not my style (I dig blues) it is still musically fine and the words magnify things about Jesus.
But, in regards to the church service I still do not “get it”. I believed that if I were to stop going to the service, it wouldn’t change my life. Have you been there?
So what can you and I do to get the most out of a church service?
Most of what I will share is coming from a book called “Stop Dating the Church” by Joshua Harris. Reading the chapter “Rescuing Sunday” came at a good time in my life. I would like to give the chapter segments and brief synopsis/summary/my thoughts of each one.
Even though all days are God’s, there is at least one day that we gather with believers across the globe to give honor to and worship to the living God. J.I. Packer said “We must never, therefore, let our Sundays become mere routine engagements; in the attitude of mind we shall trifle them away by a humdrum formality. Every Sunday is meant to be a great day, and we should approach it expectantly in full awareness of this.” We should be organizing our week around Sunday and not Sunday around our week.
Before the Meeting – Prepare your heart
I know that often I have stayed up late the night before not even thinking about Sunday the next day unless it was doing final preparations for a class I was teaching or a “part” that I had in the service. If I were to spend some time the night before focusing my thoughts on the God of the universe that I would be giving worth-ship towards on the next day how much more would I be ready for him the next day. Now I stay up late doing what? Usually something to do with the TV … either watching the rest of a movie, or waiting for some snippet of SNL I can share with some buddies at church.
At one time I had the thought of doing a family gathering time on Saturday nights to help us prepare for the next day. Even if we went to bed at a decent time to get some good sleep and woke up plenty of time not to be so rushed in the morning would help out considerably (I know … that’s hard for some of us parents to be that ready, but it is possible!)
During the Meeting – Be careful how you hear
When we sing, we should be singing as if God were sitting up on the stage and we were giving him the attention he deserves. The same would hold true for when we listen to the preaching. We don’t put the emphasis on the one speaking/leading (though each leader in the service has an important responsibility to pay attention to the culture of the church and give to them the communication that they can hear, and those leading the music in the church have a similar responsibility, we must own the responsibility of our own worship/listening).
After the Meeting – Do what it says
Josh brings up a thought about using Sundays to gather with believers not only in the service time, but sharing life afterwards. I can think of some of my favorite times on Sundays are right before, in between and after the services. Why? That is when I get to connect with other believers. I love that. Now … we come home and usually take a nap (Which I enjoy too!)
By trying as much as we can to get the word practiced in our life we will then extend our experience from Sunday. At my church, our main preacher gives extensive notes and tries hard to make the outline memorable (he uses acronyms like they are going out of business, he even used OBGYN this week!) It should be our duty to take what we can with either those notes or what we remember and practice it throughout the week. I know that studies have shown that in a learning environment, if we just listen to someone, within 24-48 hours we forget most of what we heard. By adding things like: seeing someone, reading, filling in notes, writing down phrases and even just looking at your notes even as little as a day later … help exponentially increase our remembering of the message. AND if you want to be more adventurous, take ONE THING from the message that you heard/learned and do something with it that week!
I know I have had to repent of my attitude in church, I don’t blame anyone except me. I am taking ownership. Do you? Or have you also got sucked into the world’s thoughts that it is about me and I have to be entertained with my kind of communication or music? Do you strive hard to hear God speaking to you during these times, or do you strive to hear the sounds of the football commentators shortly after the service is over? I need to make the most of every opportunity I can to hear from him and to worship him back … at my church, I only get one day of the week to spend with a community of believers in connecting with each other and with God.
There are many things that we could all add … and not pretending to be an expert in any of this, what are your thoughts?