Saturday, July 9, 2016
1. Prepare on Saturday night. Don’t stay out too late on Saturday night, so as to be well rested for Sunday worship. If you have young children, have them sleep in the clothes they will wear to church, so as to avoid the battle over what they will wear. Have a Saturday night and Sunday morning ritual that the children get used to, and build in some special things they can look forward to (i.e., donuts on Sunday morning, lunch out after church, etc.).
2. Spend time with God before heading to church. Read the word and pray to prepare your heart. If you know what your pastor is preaching on, read that passage when you wake up. Pray for your own heart and for those who will be leading the worship service. Come to the worship service to love God and love others.
3. Arrive early so as to meet some people and be ready when the service starts. When you walk in late, you miss what has already happened, and you distract others from what is taking place at that moment.
4. Turn your phone off so as not to be distracted. Avoid using a Bible app on your phone so as not to be tempted with other things that might come over your phone (i.e., texts, Facebook, etc.). I think it is a better model for our children to see us using a paper copy of the Bible instead of an electronic version.
5. Fully engage in whatever is happening in the service. This takes mental and spiritual discipline. When there is singing, sing with all your heart! When there is prayer, pray! When there is a reading, listen intently! When there is a message, receive it with an open heart! When there is the partaking of the Lord’s Supper, search your heart and meditate on Christ’s suffering for you.
6. Avoid an “evaluative spirit.” This one is really hard. If we are constantly evaluating things during the service (i.e., volume of music, song selection, attire of those on stage, who is sitting near us, etc.), we will miss out on loving God and loving others. Focus on the Lord. Concentrate on Him. Discipline your mind away from evaluating things.
7. Maintain a humble and receptive heart throughout the service. God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble. The more humble we are, the more grace He gives us. It takes humility to worship the Lord, regardless of how you feel. It takes humility to keep your focus on God and not on things that can distract you. It takes humility to ask God, “Is there someone here you want me to pray for or give a word to?” It takes humility to say to God at the end of the message, “Lord, What are You saying to me today?”
8. Love your neighbor as yourself. There are two main purposes for attending a corporate worship service: to love God and love others. After all, these are the two greatest commandments! I have mostly addressed loving God, but how might we love others at church? Here are a few suggestions: Find a place of service so as to avoid coming with a “consumer” mentality; taking a genuine interest in another person as you greet him/her; looking for someone who seems lonely or downcast; or praying for someone your heart is drawn toward.
Each of these take intentionality, but it is all worth it, because the “eyes of the Lord move to and fro throughout the earth, that He may strongly support those who hearts are completely His” (2 Chron. 16:9).