Preparation is part of every day life. We prepare for exams and tests at school. We prepare for what we’re going to cook by cutting the relevant vegetables, etc. We prepare to go on holiday by packing our bags and making sure we have all the relevant paperwork. We prepare for a celebration by making sure all the decorations and relevant food is ready. We prepare for work as we get up, get ready and head into the office, the building site or the shop. Preparation is part of our normal life, but it’s easy to think of Sunday as a spectator sport.
So many people are involved in making sure that a Sunday morning service takes place. Depending on the size of your church, a tech team will be working behind the scenes, the band/service leader has thought and prayed about which songs to sing, a leader in the church has decided what the sermon text will be, a preacher has invested time in writing the sermon and the service leader has put together a service.
Each element has been thought about and intentionally put in to glorify God and point people to Jesus. Each person has done their part in preparing a service that will encourage and equip Christians to grow in their knowledge of, love for and likeness of Jesus.
It all sounds perfect, but then people come unprepared, having given little or no thought to the service and how they can serve and encourage others that morning. It’s easy for churches to put on services but have pews full of spectators who are merely along for the ride, looking to be entertained but not to be challenged.
Making Sunday a spectator sport is easy, it’s comfortable to sit back and watch from a distance, but it is not the most spiritually beneficial thing for you to do, or the most God-glorifying thing either. God doesn’t call people to be pew warmers, but to be parts in His body, each with a function to help the body grow and thrive into maturity.
Instead of seeing church as a spectator sport, we should all come prepared, having spent time seriously considering how we can serve and how we can be a blessing to others. Christians must be willing to be changed, to bring challenge and to make Jesus the champion.
It’s too easy to simply be a spectator, to sit on the fringes, to sit through a service without taking anything in and simply ticking the routine box of church attendance. But that is not what God wants for His people. A Christian should come to church ready to hear the Word of God, to sing gospel truths to themselves, to God and to each other. We should come to every church service with the expectant prayer that the Lord would do a work in us, by His Spirit and change us.
Too often we can fall into the rut of comfortable conversations that don’t spur us onto Christ-likeness, but instead focus on the weather. We should come willing to get out of our comfort zone, to challenge others in their faith and to be challenged ourselves. That challenge might look like being asked a questions that seems strange at first, like “what are you learning about God at the moment?” or “what are the questions you’re wrestling with most about your faith?” This could also look like lovingly coming alongside a brother or sister who is not living as they know the Bible says and pointing them to Jesus, and being humble enough to listen to others.
To make Jesus the champion
All we do in church should be based on the Bible and in celebration of the gospel and who Jesus is. Jesus should be the focus of every service, not the preacher, not the band leader, not anyone on the platform. The desire of everyone involved in a service should be the same as John the Baptist in John 3:30 “He must increase, but I must decrease.” This isn’t only something that is done from up front or from behind a pulpit, but also in the pew. Fill your conversations with Jesus, share how he has blessed you and encouraged you. Share your joys and your sorrows and point others, and be pointed by others, to the gospel truths of who Jesus is and his glorious promises to be with people even in the difficulties and mess of life.
Sunday should not be a spectator sport, but a time of fellowship as we gather as the body and bride of Christ to glorify Him and to become more like him. That’s best done when we prepare to come to church.