Another Sunday. Another Church Service.
- Yes. we're aware that we sometimes preach TOO long.
- Yes. we know sometimes the worship music is too loud. Yes, it's also not contemporary enough, or fast enough, ....or slow-and-worshipful enough.
- Yes. The really long sermons are sometimes not deep enough....Oh,.. what? .....I'm sorry, sometimes they're too deep and way over the new believer's heads.
- Yup yup. We need to love people outside of the Church more....Uh... okay, yes, yes, we definitely need to feed the believers more.
- Yes. The parking sucks. Uh huh. Uh huh, we 're not really good at making everyone feel welcome either. Yup. Got it.
- Oh, of course, yes. We know the ushers sometimes think and act like they’re the Secret Service (yeah, we're sorry about that).
As a pastor called to shepherd God's people, I feel ya. I really do. So here are seven things YOU can do about it, and please note that none of them involve any passive aggressive texts, emails, or coded voicemail messages. (I know my tone sounds bitter and angry, but I promise you I'm not. I am smiling in my heart right now and genuinely trying to make your Sunday morning more awesome!)
Okay, here we go.
1. CHANGE YOUR ATTITUDE.
Plan to come to Church on Sunday with a radically different attitude. Come expecting a meeting with Jesus Christ, not a great sermon. Come with an attitude of praise and thanksgiving like the psalmist in (Psalm 100:4), not with an expectation that the worship band will sound like U2 (cos I heard them last night, they won't). I've also run through my message for this weekend 3 or 4 times, uh...sorry, but it's only gonna be "averagely-awesome."
2. SHOW UP 5-10 MINUTES BEFORE THE SERVICE STARTS.
You’ll get great seats and the ushers are usually not yet in their operational GO-mode. That and the fact that coming early helps you "get in the zone" spiritually and emotionally.
3. ON YOUR DRIVE TO THE CHURCH, TURN OFF THE RADIO AND CHAT WITH JESUS.
I understand wanting to get mentally jazzed up for Church by listening to the most recent worship hits or popular preachers on your radio, but let’s be honest here; if you listen to John McArthur and Ravi Zacharias before you come hear me preach, or to Lecrae and Hillsong before you come hear our worship team lead, chances are, WE WILL SUCK in comparison to them.
But what if you changed your hurried Sunday morning routine from noise to beautiful silence? What if during your drive to Church, you chose, in silence, to prayerfully prepare your heart to meet with Jesus? You might be surprised to find that He's eager to commune with you long before you ever even hear the first chord of the first worship song that morning. Trust me, silence is your friend!
4. BRING SOME EXTRA MINTY GUM WITH YOU.
There's nothing uber-spiritual about this. Fact is, if the sermon is going long and you’re about to disengage, pop some of these bad-boys in your mouth and you’ll come alert. Plus, you'll have amazingly fresh breath when you chat with people at the end.
5. BRING YOUR BIBLE (AND A PEN, A NOTEBOOK, OR SOMETHING TO WRITE WITH AND ON).
I know the Bible verses will probably be on the PowerPoint screen anyway and you probably already have an iSomething with you. But did you know that you'll retain more information and be more engaged when you actually write content down? That and the fact that you won't get distracted by the social media pop-up alerts randomly showing up on your screen when your friends upload that awesome YouTube video. Besides all of that, you'd be amazed at how refreshing it is to have built-in time in your life where you literally unplug from all media.
Not sure what to write? Write down everything in the sermon that resonates with you, be it something you need to do more of, less of, or be persistent in. Write down any and every question the sermon didn't answer. When you get home, dig in a little deeper and see what you come up with as you attempt to answer them. If you get stuck, email the preacher for clarity. It will revolutionize Sundays for you!
6. WHEN THE SERVICE IS OVER, DON'T RUSH OFF AND OUT TO YOUR CAR LIKE IT'S THE OLYMPICS.
Take a moment and make it a point to say, “Hello. How long have you been going here?” to two people you’ve never met. Most Church people are friendly and will take the extra minute or two to engage you in conversation. Conversations like this have been known to open doors to some deep long-term friendships, new job opportunities, and in some unique cases, (which I just made up right now), it’s even led to finding a spouse.
7. SPEND THE FIRST FEW MOMENTS OF YOUR DRIVE HOME COMMUNING WITH GOD.
If you’ve followed steps 1 to 6, by the time you reach your car, most cars would have left the parking lot. You’ll have the driveway all to yourself and some quiet one on one time with your Father in heaven. Spend those few moments praying through some of the content you just learned. Ask God to bring all the good stuff in the sermon to fruition in your life. Ask Him to reveal anything hidden in your life that would hinder you from experiencing all He has in store for you. Thank Him for all you have and the time you just had with Him. Now, you can turn your radio back on!
These seven steps do not guarantee that you will have the perfect Sunday Church experience. They do however put YOU in control of how you will respond to whatever you meet with during the worship experience, be it a spiritual high or spiritual low.
Here's something else to consider, while Christians gather weekly in a physical location, what comprises our faith is not the building we meet in or the practices we engage in. We are first and foremost a people united by ONE Spirit, which is really what makes us THE CHURCH. The apostle Peter, entrusted with the task of leading the CHURCH says this about you, about all of us, "YOU are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God's special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light."
So this means that the same Holy Spirit residing in your heart is the same Holy Spirit residing in the heart of your pastor (who preaches too long), your worship leaders (who can’t quite hit “that” note), the ushers (yes. Really), and the hopefully new folks you just said hello to while taking your time leaving the building.
My point here is that regardless of how great or awful your Sunday morning is in Church, the Holy Spirit of God living in you can grant you an exceptionally rewarding time if you are willing to come to HIS house with an attitude of expectation, readiness, and preparedness.
So, next Sunday? Come ready to experience awesome!