As we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith. (Galatians 6:10)
How we come to church matters. For LifePoint, our weekly gathering is pregnant with potential to be a Gospel-motivated act of love that glorifies Jesus and blesses others. In fact, it might just be the most significant thing you and I do this week. Have you ever thought about that? Have you really considered how important it is? I pray you will now.
To be helpful, I want to offer some practical guidance. I refer to this guidance as being practical because it moves beyond our abstract (and often vague) notions of love. After all, we can talk about loving one another until we’re blue in the face, but if the Gospel never compels us to act intentionally for the good of our brothers and sisters, we’ve most likely failed to grasp the Good News we declare together each week (Gal. 6:10; Jas. 2:15-17; 1 Jn. 3:18).
So for the sake of the Gospel, let’s consider how we might be more intentional about how we come to church by asking, How can I love the church practically this Sunday? For starters, here are 20 different ways we might answer that question.
(1) Show up. I realize that’s obvious, but it must be said. You probably won’t love the church if you’re not with the church.
(2) Pray. Charles Spurgeon once remarked that “Prayer is the slender nerve that moves the arm of omnipotence.” Prayer is perhaps the most powerful and loving thing we can do for our church. In fact, I’ve written more extensively about praying for the church here.
(3) Get enough sleep. Sleep is a gift (Ps. 127:2). And you can’t afford to miss out on it. Without adequate rest, you’ll be sluggish and inattentive, meaning you’ll probably be in no condition to love others intentionally come Sunday morning.
(4) Choose the least convenient parking spot. You may have health problems. You might be advanced in years. You’re probably a parent of small, rowdy children. But if none of these statements describe you, please bless those who do fit such descriptions by choosing to park out in no man’s land.
(5) Arrive early. Walking in 10 minutes before the gathering begins will give you time to intentionally interact with others. So plan ahead, giving yourself plenty of time to arrive early on Sunday morning.
(6) Sing. For the Gospel to have its full effect in the church, we must have a way to “own” it—that is, to internalize it and stake our very identity upon it. And singing does that for us. When we “sing” the truth in love, it builds up the Body (Eph. 4:15). I’ve written more about that here and here.
(7) Be expressive. Worship is a matter of the heart. However, it’s dead wrong to divorce inward worship from outward expression. We don’t just “worship God in our hearts.” We worship Him with our bodies too (1 Co. 6:20). I’ve written more about that here and here.
(8) Listen. Don’t tune out during the sermon, Scripture readings, and elder-led prayers. Throughout the gathering, what’s being spoken is of first importance and deserves our full attention (1 Co. 15:3).
(9) Prayerfully consider where you sit. About this, author Tony Payne writes, “When we pray about where to sit, we’re trusting that . . . God has something important for us to do—in particular, someone He wants us to sit next to, talk with, listen to, pray for and encourage.” So true.
(10) Introduce yourself to someone you haven’t met. Odds are, you’ve noticed some people whose hands you have not shaken and whose names you do not yet know. Set out to change that this week by initiating a conversation with someone for the first time.
(11) Meet first-time visitors. Walking into a new church can be terrifying. Make it easier for someone. Be on the lookout for folks who have that deer-in-the-headlights look on their face so you can be proactively hospitable toward them. Find out their name, how they heard about us, and what questions they have. Also make sure they know important things like how to fill out a response card and (especially!) where to find the coffee.
(12) Pray with someone. If, in conversation, someone shares honestly about their struggles or difficult life circumstances, don’t offer that cliché response: Welp, I’ll be praying for ya. No, stop right there, take a moment, and let them hear you petition God on their behalf. It will minister deeply to their soul.
(13) Stay current on upcoming church events. Do you know when the next Explore LifePoint is? What about VBS dates? These are important ways we can connect new people to the life of our congregation. Stay “in the know” so you can help those who aren’t. You can view the church calendar here.
(14) Express sincere gratitude for others. There are lots of people who serve diligently to make Sunday mornings a blessing for the church (i.e. ushers, production team, hospitality team, etc). Find one of those people, look them in the eye and say, Thank you for serving. You’re a blessing.
(15) Be generous with finances and resources. God is pleased and His church resourced for mission when we give cheerfully (2 Co. 9).
(16) Silence your cell phone and put it away. In fact, leave it in your car. You’ll live. I promise.
(17) Find a way to process the sermon in community. Sermons are most faithfully applied when we work out the implications of biblical truth together. Community Groups are the primary way we do this. Although a heart-to-heart conversation over coffee or lunch with someone you trust can also be helpful.
(18) Throw away your trash. Make sure that cup which once contained the delicious hot beverage you’ve just enjoyed (courtesy of Brick & Mortar) finds its way into the trash receptacle.
(19) Download a couple of the songs from the links below. Like I said, singing builds up the church. So spend a couple of bucks on some of the songs for this week. Worship along with them on the way to work or at the gym, so you can sing them more robustly with others come Sunday morning.
(20) Go share Sunday In Advance right now. When you’re done here, jump on Facebook and encourage others to read and consider this post. Let’s encourage as many people as possible to think intentionally about how they’ll come to church this Sunday.
This isn’t meant to be a comprehensive list. Nor should anyone feel like they have to do everything I’ve just listed. Rather it’s meant to provoke faithful consideration about how we love one another when we gather to worship God.
How will you come to church this Sunday?