I know it is only Monday but I hope you are already looking forward to gathering together with your church family this coming Sunday. Gathering with other believers should be one of the greatest joys in the life of the Christian. It is a tremendous privilege that we should not take for granted. It is also a tremendous responsibility. Paul wrote, in Hebrews 10:24-25, “And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”
The idea that a Christian would not be actively involved in a local church is unbiblical. In fact, the Scriptures set the expectation that every believer will gather weekly, not as a spectator but as an active participant. We gather to sing, pray, give, and encourage one another. There are no 2nd string Christians. We are all on the team and we are all in the game together.
Considering this reality, I think it would be helpful to take some steps to prepare ourselves as we anticipate the weekly gathering of our local church:
1. Commit. We live in a day and age of weak commitment to the local church. Many Christians are more committed to their child’s little league team that they are to their local church. This should not be so. Active involvement in the local church is not a suggestion. It is not a matter of convenience. It is the very lifeline of a believer’s spiritual life and it is the expectation of our Lord.
Commit to your local church. Make it a priority to be present when your church gathers to worship. I have heard every excuse in the book for why families are sporadic in their attendance and many of the excuses are good. But missing the weekly gathering of your local church should be the rare exception. Imagine if every family in your church made a commitment to be actively involved each week unless providentially hindered. We can tell our kids all day long that church is important but we must show them with our lives and our schedules.
Will you commit to your local church?
2. Worship Throughout The Week. It is naive to believe that you can walking into church and experience all that God intends for you to experience with the gathered body of Christ if you have not been worshipping throughout the week. Often I hear believers say something like, “I came to church today to get filled up because my spiritual tank has been empty all week.” I understand what they are saying. But imagine if we gathered every Sunday with a tank already filled up because we had been worshipping all week. Now you have a room full of filled up believers ready to worship together and encourage one another!
I think the reason why many churches today seem lifeless is that the people gathered have not worshipped all week long. The reality is that our corporate worship gatherings will look just like our personal worship. Worship is not an event we attend each week but a way of life for the believer.
Will you go to your local church this Sunday having worshipped all week?
3. Pray. I think we underestimate the power of prayer as we prepare to gather together each week. Often church leaders invest a tremendous amount of time and energy in planning worship services each week and very little time praying for those services. I would dare say many church members have never considered that they should pray for their church’s weekly gathering. We don’t pray because we are self sufficient but, in reality, what we desperately need is the presence of God in our churches.
Imagine if every church member prayed daily for the weekly worship gathering. What would happen if we prayed every week for the gospel to be clearly presented and for unbelievers to respond? What would happen if we asked God’s Spirit to show up in power each week? What if we prayed for our fellow believers and ourselves to be revived and energized to carry out the Great Commission? I believe God would answer those prayers!
Will you pray for your local church as you prepare to gather each week?
4. Read. One of the things I encourage our church to do each week is read the sermon text before we meet on Sundays. Imagine if ever believer read the text for the sermon several times leading up to the worship gathering and asked God to apply it to their lives. I think that would have a tremendous affect! Instead of adopting the, “What do you have for me today, Preacher?” mindset you come having already read the text looking for greater insight and life application.
Oftentimes, pastors feel the pressure of having to cover every aspect of the particular passage they are preaching. But if believers come to the worship gathering familiar with the text then it enables pastors to focus their teaching time more directly on the text and its application. This is a benefit for both the pastor and the people.
Will you read the sermon text before gathering for worship this week?
5. Arrive Early. It happens just about every week about 5 minutes after the service starts… someone comes into the parking lot on 2 wheels running 60mph with their hair on fire! I know the challenges of getting ready and out the door on Sunday mornings but it is interesting to me that we are able to get to work on time and get our kids to school on time during the week. The reason we are late on Sundays is that the weekly worship gathering is not a priority. I fully understand that crazy things happen but, again, being late on Sundays should be the exception and not the rule. Imagine if all the believers gathered together before the service began and had an opportunity to encourage one another and fellowship together!
Take some practical steps on Saturday night to prepare for worship on Sunday. Pick out your clothes the night before and lay them out. Set your alarm clock. Eat something reasonably easy and quick for breakfast. Talk with your family on Saturday night and remind them about the priority of weekly worship (this would be a great time to pray and read the sermon text together as a family).
Will you arrive early to your church this week?