For some reason, waking up on Sunday is either the hardest thing in the world, or the easiest. Some people just fly out of their Batman sheets, and still have time to snag a quick shower before herding the family into the car for Sunday school. For others, it’s not that easy—their story is a little slower, and may or may not feature a soggy bowl of cereal and a quick scroll or two through Facebook before they manage to get in the car with their crew to (barely) make it for the second service.
That’s cool. No biggie—you both made it to church, right?
But there are some things that you can keep top of mind for yourself and the folks you arrived with to make the most of the glorious morning that is Sunday morning. By far the best morning. Wouldn’t you agree? Here’s twenty bucks that says Adam Levine has our backs. Here are a couple ways that you can be intentional with your church time.
Encourage the other
Honestly, this world is seriously lacking in the encouragement department. It seems like we’re more concerned with getting ahead of the other people than we are motivating and empowering them. That’s a real bummer. And then we head home from church and we wonder why we aren’t more encouraged. It starts with us.
We’re the church—we’re the people who can make the change, rather than just settling for a sub-par church culture that so disenfranchised with encouragement that people would do anything for a “good job, Isaac.” It’s easy for us to complain, to shout and make a big deal about the pitiful communication between church members. But the Bible charges us with something a little more intentional:
Let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. Hebrews 10:24–25
Stay away from cynicism
Look, your church service doesn’t have to be a full-scale production. It’s okay that your worship pastor’s jacket isn’t perfectly tailored, and it’s completely fine that the naked light bulbs aren’t hanging from a 15-ft high ceiling. You’ll make it out alive. Deep breaths.
The people who are putting on this show aren’t rock stars. They aren’t the end-all actors who’ve got just the right hairstyle that you all-of-the-sudden want to come to Jesus. It’s not that simple. And they don’t have to be. The beauty of this Sunday message is that they (and you) can show up a little disheveled and that’s perfectly okay. Your job is to worship the Lord, not to criticize failings that aren’t relevant in the first place. And more than that, your time there in that chapel early in the morning is more important than stray, judgmental thoughts. It’s time for you reach out to Jesus.
In the morning, LORD, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait expectantly. Psalm 5:3
Don’t rely on the building.
So often we’re wandering around these beautiful church buildings, and—in the back of our minds—we’ve equated it with THE church, the community and organization of Christ’s followers. We can’t see that the church is something that’s much more powerful and widespread that beyond the double doors of your local gathering. As a result, we can’t think of our time worshipping the Lord as anything other than Sunday morning worship. That’s absurd. To think that our worship of Jesus is just a church service?
We see Jesus himself calling attention away from worship being this thing that’s so centralized and local, and re-structuring it as a personal, intimate outreach with himself. “Something greater than the Temple is here,” says Jesus, talking about himself (Matthew 12:6). He’s the thing that’s our focus. Worship doesn’t need any kind of building, organization or physical location. All our worship needs is Christ himself. Christ talks about himself as the Temple again here, referring to his death and resurrection as a metaphor:
Destroy this Temple and in three days I will raise it up. John 2:19
He was adamant in professing that the Temple’s time had come, that He would destroy it. What the Pharisees couldn’t see? He was talking about himself. These references to the Temple—not only did they get him killed (Mark 14:58), but they also were the catalyst for Stephen’s martyrdom (Acts 6:14). It was more important than we realize.
So we can’t put our focus on the church building as this all-powerful and holy place—this building that all-of-the-sudden will make us “better Christians.” At the end of the day, your relationship with Jesus isn’t dependent on the building.
But we can see the church building as a place for us to congregate, to give back, to provoke each other to goodness, and to build relationships with fellow Christ-followers. Show up ready and willing to invest your time in the people. In the community. In the small groups and the willing-and-ready prayers teams who are invested in your well being.
And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. Hebrew 10:24-25