June 23, 2016

By Jonny Reeve

My wife and I love to travel. We like going to different cities and experiencing the beautiful diversity of culture, scenery, foods, and people.   We do not, however, enjoy the packing and planning involved with travel – the research of places to stay, where to go, what to eat, and what to bring.  It takes a good bit of preparation but we do it because it makes our time together that much more enjoyable and valuable.

Sadly, when it comes to Sunday mornings, simply preparing to gather as the church is one of the last things on our minds (yes even those who work for the church).  We have had a long week of work and life and family and it is a struggle to get to church on Sundays.  Have you ever felt this way?

When it comes to Sunday mornings, simply preparing to gather as the church is one of the last things on our minds.

So, how exactly do you prepare to gather together as the church family on Sunday?  Here are some things you can consider that will help you prepare for Sundays, regardless of the stage of life you are in.

Plan Ahead.

We do this for almost everything else in life, so why not when you gather for worship on Sundays?  Plan ahead to be ready for when Sunday comes. First, plan to attend on Sunday.  We are so quick to plan all of life except for church and we have plenty of excuses when Sunday arrives – late nights, feeling tired, kids might be sick, bad weather, good weather, or just other priorities.  We must prioritize the family of God gathering together. How else can we plan ahead?  Get a good night’s sleep the night before. Wake up early and give yourself time to get ready.  Eat a good breakfast (and get some coffee if that is your thing!). Arrive to church early so you can drop off your kids, find a seat, and connect with friends.  We would do a lot of these things if we were to go on vacation or even to a movie, so they just might help prepare us for Sunday morning worship.

We must prioritize the family of God gathering together.

Prepare to Receive.

Most people come to church in one of two mindsets – we are there to watch or work.  Those who come on Sundays to watch, we need everything – the preaching, the music, the sound, the lights, my kids, my friends - to be just perfect so that we can have the experience we need to energize us and prepare us for the week.  Others come to church to work (as a volunteer or even as a leader/staff member).  Our Sunday is defined by the areas we are serving in and the tasks that we have to accomplish that day.

But Sunday should be about gathering together with our church family and ultimately about meeting God (Psalm 89:6-7)!  We must come on Sundays in faith, expecting that God will be with us and speak to us, encourage us, convict us, transform us (Zephaniah 3:17 / Exodus 33:14).  Our excitement for meeting with God, receiving from Him, and being with His people should far outweigh our own preferences for Sunday or even the things we have to do in work or service (Psalm 27:4).

Our excitement for meeting with God, receiving from Him, and being with His people should far outweigh our own preferences for Sunday.

Prepare to Participate.

Come ready to actively participate in the service on Sunday mornings, whether informally or formally.  The church is described in the Bible as the body (1 Corinthians 12:12-30, Romans 12:4-5), the household of God (Ephesians 2:19), and the family (John 1:12).  So what if we came on Sundays ready to act like this? To be the body working together, serving, meeting needs, caring for one another – it would be like a real family (Hebrews 10:24-25)!  What does this look like?  Pray for your pastors and leaders. Meet guests and greet others.  Make people feel welcome. Serve where there is a need in the church formally or informally.  Be ready to respond to the word of God.  Confess sin, repent, reconcile relationships, and encourage others. Pray for those who are hurting and struggling.  But don’t just leave that for Sundays – being the church should not be and cannot be limited to once a week. We must be the church scattered and continue living in the identity as the family of God in our personal family, our job, our friends and neighbors, and our city.  Share what you are learning or what God is teaching you. 

Being the church should not be and cannot be limited to once a week.

We must weekly prepare our minds and our hearts for worship on Sundays. How we approach worship speaks to how much we value it. Preparing can be such a small thing but can reap a huge harvest. It allows us and our families the freedom to truly treasure the presence of God and find joy in Him!  It can move church from an obligation to a life-giving and priceless time together that you look forward to each week!