I spent most of my life thinking of Sunday as the end of the weekend. Monday started my week. I went so far as shifting “Sunday” to the far right side on my iCal calendar on my iPhone. It just helped me to better visualize my week. What about you? In your life, is Sunday the first day of the week or the last? Check which one below:
Well, I hope that worked. This is the first time I’ve tried an online poll. Well, the article doesn’t change depending on your answer but it would have been cool if it was like one of those Choose Your Own Adventures.
As a pastor, I work all week to get ready for Sunday. I have my little study processes that keep me on track throughout the week. As a “part-time” pastor (which just means I don’t hold office hours) most of that time is geared towards preparing for the sermon, but some additional reminders, organizing, web maintenance, meetings, and graphic design. For some reason in recent months I’ve noticed that I’ve started to think of Sunday as the first day of the week (and iCal now reflects that evolution.) I’m not sure what caused the shift. (I blame everything lately on my total sleeplessness because of my 7-month-old, but I can’t think of why that would have altered my internal calendar. Then again, I can’t think clearly so maybe there is a reason.)
More importantly, what’s different now that I’ve changed the space-time continuum and moved Sunday back to the first day of the week? Well, I guess practically nothing outward has changed, but I still think there’s a difference. I think the applications to my sermons have improved subtly. I now try to think how I can help someone start their week anew. How their life can change today. Instead of finishing my week, I’m now starting a new journey beginning with my church experience. I’m enjoying the shift, and maybe you will too.
So this got me thinking: How can you improve your church going experience? How can someone get the most out of their church? Here are my 5 best ideas:
1) Get There Early
You don’t need anyone else to help you connect with people. Do it. Help-out people setting-up while you’re at it (unless the people who need help are messing with the sound board, because whatever you do… do not touch sound stuff!!!) Once you say “hi” to everyone, and there’s no one you can help, take time to pray. I get it. I carry in a minimum of 2 crying kids. I had a crazy busy morning and it’s not even 10am yet, and prayer can be last thing on my mind. Maybe your morning is different but the end result might be the same. I need to pray more on Sunday mornings for sure, but I would love if more people were in the gaps praying for the service while I’m running around like a crazy person. I promise, doing any of those things will enhance your Sunday morning experience.
2) Help Someone
And I mean as substantially as you can. Stop just saying the normal American platitudes like “Hey, how are you?” or “What’s up?” As you are talking to people find out what’s really going on. Can you buy someone lunch or groceries? Can you give someone some cash to help them through a tough spot? You can always take the time to hold their hand and pray for them. Maybe you’ll find out they need help moving, or someone to watch their kids, or any number of other things. When you go into church with the attitude that you are their to help someone, and you just need the Lord to reveal who and what, then you can turn church into your own personal Shark Tank or Undercover Boss. It will be a blast.
3) Serve in some Capacity
I don’t even have to know where you go to church, because no matter what I guarantee there is something that you can do once per month – nursery, children’s ministry, usher, the sound board (if you are trained!!!!), parking lot patrol, whatever. Again, this helps shift your attitude from “I’m here to be served,” to “I’m here to serve.” You will begin to truly take ownership, and see the church as “yours.”
4) Really Worship
Maybe you go to a church where everyone just stands there and mumbles the words; or maybe you go to a church where everyone dances like crazy in the aisles and there’s flag waving for some reason. Who cares what others are doing. Are you genuinely worshipping? Are you thinking about what others are thinking about you, or are you just praising your Creator and Savior? Maybe that means you want to jump up and down, and maybe that means you want to bow down on your knees. Be comfortable in your own worship skin. Look forward to it. Don’t worry about whether you don’t know them or they are too loud or too slow (Can a song be too slow and too loud at the same time??? Hmmm, I wonder.) Praise Jesus for who He is and what He’s done in season and out of season! You’ll enjoy your time so much more.
5) Make Specific Changes
Whether you take notes or just pay close attention, when you close in prayer at the end of the service, you need to ask God to reveal real changes that need to take place your life. Sometimes the only change is a new way of thinking, more information, or greater knowledge about Christ or His ministry in your life; but almost always there is some way that God’s Word should change your life. You need to change your actions. If you walked away every Sunday with something specific that needs to change in your life, you will walk back into church a new person every Sunday. That new person will get the most out of church. Guaranteed.
What about you? Comment below if there is something that has enhanced the church service for you.
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