Sunday is usually a crazy day at church. People are there for different reasons with just as many varied expectations. It can be very demanding for everyone. But it is an extremely difficult day for the pastor. Most people show up with the idea that the worship service is about to happen, but the pastor shows up already having gone through the service multiple times... perhaps dozens. If you are a conscientious Christian, you aren't just a consumer, but you want to be a contributor. There are things you can refrain from doing on Sunday to make the experience more encouraging and successful for your pastor. And there are some things you can do to make the Sunday worship time better.
As someone who has been on both sides of the pulpit, let me give you some advice that your pastor may not say, because he wouldn't want to sound self-serving. Here are 3 things you can do to be a better church member on Sunday...
COMMUNICATE – Let someone know if you won’t be at church. This is sort of expected for leadership, though it doesn’t always happen. But even if you aren’t on the church staff, it is good to advise others when you will be absent. It is part of being a family. If I won’t be eating at home, it is important to let my wife know. It is disrespectful to not do so. The same is true in the church. Communicating when you will be out of town is a way of saying, “This is my home. I value our relationship. I will miss being here, and you deserve to know why I will be gone.” It incorporates both accountability and appreciation.
ARRIVE EARLY – It is Sunday. Most people have a very loose schedule on Sunday, so there is rarely a good reason to constantly be 5-10... or 20 minutes late. You may say, “I’m not on the worship team. They can start without me. Why should I get to church early?” Well, if you are going to worship, you are on the worship team. They can start without you being there, but you can’t start with them without you being there. Music, prayers, testimonies, etc. are not just preliminaries leading up to the preaching. They are an integral part of the whole worship experience. Here’s something to think about… The amount of worship time you miss leading up to the sermon will determine how much of the sermon you miss. It is also disrespectful to constantly be late. The people who have prayed over and planned the music don’t deserve to have to compete with people climbing over people, settling in, putting their keys and purses away, and greeting others while everyone is trying to focus on God. When you arrive early, you send the message that you are excited about joining with the family, and anticipate great things from God.
PARTICIPATE – If you went through a whole church service and didn’t sense the move of God, and this happened time after time, you would probably find somewhere else to attend. I imagine God feels the same way when you don’t move. When it is time to sing, sing. When it is time to pray, pray. When it is time to read the Word, open your Bible. Worship service is not a spectator sport, it is a participatory experience. It isn’t something to consume, it is something to offer. You can sing in your car for an hour on your way home from work. But you can’t sing three songs at church? You can pray like crazy when you want to pass that test or get that promotion. But you can’t close your eyes and agree in prayer with the body of believers at church? You can read your latest favorite author late into the night. But you can’t open the written Word of God to learn more about abundant life? God doesn’t want a family of consumers, but a family of contributors. Church isn’t where we go to be part of a sing-along, but where we sing praises from our hearts using our voices. The pastor isn’t just praying for you, but also with you. Reading the Bible in church can help you read it at home.
So there are three simple things you can do in order to contribute to a better experience at church. What we are talking about is the difference between ‘going to church’ and ‘being the church’. If you are only going to church, you can leave church. But if you are being the church, you will continue to be that church when you leave the gathering and the building. Doing these 3 things will let your pastor know that you value his effort and care, and it will tell the rest of the body that you appreciate being part of the family. The apostle Paul put it this way when telling the early Christians how to act and interact…
“Be filled by the Spirit: speaking to one another in psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, singing and making music from your heart to the Lord, giving thanks always for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another in the fear of Christ.” (Ephesians 5:18-21)
[Bible quotes are from the Holman Christian Standard Bible, unless otherwise noted.]
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My name is David, and I want to know God more, and help other people find Him.