Practical Suggestions On Attending Church In A God-Glorifying Manner On The Lord’s Day
This is the 4th and final post in the series “The Sabbath and the Lord’s Day.” The first post dealt with the question, “Are Christians Required To Keep The Sabbath?” The second one addressed the question, “Are Christians Required To Keep The Lord’s Day?” The third post dealt with “Common Problems That Hinder Going To Church On The Lord’s Day.”
This post will look at practical suggestions to help us attend church on the Lord’s Day in a God-glorifying manner. I have broken these into 2 broad categories: Preparation and Participation.
Often, preparation to worship the Lord on his day happens an hour or two before the start of the church. And this leads to chaos. However, we can effectively worship the Lord on Sunday mornings by preparing earlier, on Saturday evening/night, or even a bit sooner.
10 Things to consider doing on Saturday evening/night.
1. Go to bed at a reasonable time.
This is easier said than done. Many competing and compelling attractions can keep us awake until late hours [e.g., TV, Internet, Sports, Get-Togethers]. However, the reality is that our bodies need a reasonable amount of rest. Going to bed on time not only prepares us for church because our bodies are rested but also effectively kills the temptation to skip church because our bodies are tired.
2. Get clothes ready for Sunday morning.
A 5-10 minute task on a Saturday night without stress can avoid unnecessary tension on Sunday morning.
3. Make sure the car has enough gas.
Stopping on the way to church at a gas station to fill up may seem like only a few minutes. However, if one is already rushed, those few minutes can add to the frustration. And what if the car does not make it to the gas station?
4. Write the check.
If one’s habit is to give their financial offering as a check to the church, then having it ready beforehand is a good move.
5. Stock the diaper bag [if one has young kids].
It’s essential to ensure kids’ requirements are addressed adequately.
6. Organize all materials if in preaching/teaching ministry.
The key word is “organizing” and not preparing. Preparations should have been made long ago. If one is in the habit of using electronic devices [e.g., IPAD], keeping a paper copy as a backup is good in case the device fails. Also, it is good to charge devices, so they don’t run out of battery in the middle of the service.
7. Get the musical instruments ready if in music ministry.
Getting music sheets and the instruments ready to go overnight help.
8. Plan for breakfast and, if needed, even lunch.
Food is a big issue and often is the cause of much frustration—choosing what to eat and how long it takes to cook. However, one can avoid frustration by coming up with a plan of what needs to be done the previous night.
9. Plan for the church potluck if applicable.
If your church has a potluck luncheon, it’s good to plan to bring a reasonable amount for your family and extra to share [especially with those who are single]! That way, instead of burdening others, you can be a blessing to them!
10. Spend time in Bible reading and prayer before going to bed.
It would be unwise to think the 3 enemies of the Christian—the sinful nature that is still with us, otherwise called the “flesh,” the “world,” and the “devil”—would let us pursue the things of God without a battle. We must expect these battles and respond to them by meditating on the Scriptures and praying.
Praising and confessing sins should accompany our prayers. We also need to ensure we don’t come to the Lord’s house with bitterness in our hearts. That hinders our worship [Matt 5:23-24, Mk 11:25]. And consequences of worshiping and even participating in the Lord’s Supper with sinful hearts can be severe [1 Cor 11:27-31]!
We need to remember it’s spiritual warfare. That’s why proper preparation is a must! Even on vacation, we must plan ahead and find a local Bible-preaching church to worship the Lord with his people.
Having seen a list of 10 things to consider doing on Saturday, let’s consider a few things as Sunday morning comes around.
6 Things to consider doing on Sunday morning.
1. Get up at a reasonable time.
The temptation to sleep more is always there—even if one went to bed early. Old habits don’t die quickly. That’s why we need to pray for help and get up when the alarm goes on!
2. Take a shower to be fresh.
Good to be alert mentally and physically when coming to worship the risen King Jesus!
3. Spend time reading the Bible and in prayer.
It’s not just the physical part only that needs to be fresh [see next point], but the spiritual part as well. Spending time in God’s word and heartfelt prayer in seeking a blessing to experience his presence in Church is very important. It’s also good to pray for those in ministry and for the Lord to bring people to listen with humble hearts. Equally good to pray for the lost people to come, hear the gospel, and be saved.
4. Eat a good breakfast.
An empty stomach [unless one is fasting] can hinder one from effectively worshiping. Both mind and body don’t always function well on an empty stomach! So, a decent breakfast is a must!
5. Help your spouse with getting the kids ready.
This suggestion applies more to husbands. Our wives can get all the help they need. Even small things like getting the kids up, getting them to shower, and helping them eat their breakfast can be a great relief to the wife, who has her hands already full with other things. A fresh and well-fed kid is a blessing to parents and the church family! Plus, it’s good for the kid too!
Note: I understand that in cases where only one parent is a Christian, they may not get help from the spouse. It isn’t easy in such a situation. If you are such a parent, don’t lose heart. Your efforts will not go in vain. Remember, you are doing it for the Lord Jesus, who died for you. Let that motivate you to keep pressing forward! Who knows, one day, your spouse will change. God is in the business of changing hard hearts. So, please don’t give up!
6. Plan to come early.
By coming early, you can get settled, meet people to offer a word of encouragement, help church staff and prayerfully prepare the mind for worship. Also, by planning to come early, you can overcome unexpected traffic delays leading to frustration and even arguments among family members due to rushing. In addition, one can also avoid the sin of driving over the speed limit on the way to worship!
3 Things to consider while in Church.
1. We must participate wholeheartedly in all aspects of the service, starting from singing, hearing the word, praying, and participating in the Lord’s Supper. The Lord Jesus is worthy of our wholehearted worship!
2. We must fellowship with people and encourage one another. We must also be willing to get to know newcomers. We must overcome the tendency to spend time only with known people.
3. We must plan to stay for the entire service. That’s why we must not plan for too many things immediately after the service [there are exceptions, of course]. If we have committed to many things, we will constantly keep looking at the clock and panic if the service runs a little over. It is the Lord’s Day, after all!
Most of these suggestions are nothing new for most of the readers. However, they can still serve as an excellent reminder to help us treat the Lord’s Day as his day.
Whatever I have written in this series, I have not written them in a legalistic spirit— though I run the risk of being misunderstood that way. Yes, we cannot add or delete anything to the completed work of salvation done by the Lord Jesus Christ. However, the redemption that came at such a high cost should be accepted and lived out with a sincere commitment. And that includes honoring the Lord on the Lord’s Day.
When we treat the Lord’s Day as the LORD’s day, we are essentially saying, “Lord, I love you. I desire to honor you. And if that comes at the cost of denying myself, help me to do so. You are worthy. Please help me to honor you on all other days of the week as I do on the first day of the week.” And when we fail, let’s go to him in prayer, saying, “Lord, forgive me and help me to change in those areas where I need to change.” I hope that will be the continual cry of our hearts.
(If you have other items that can be added to the above lists, please feel free to share so that others can benefit. In one sense, we are all together in pursuing this goal of glorifying God on the Lord’s Day.)