Are you excited about church?
The past several months have been unlike anything we have experienced before. Among the things that were shutdown to help prevent the spread of the virus was the church. Many churches—like the one I worship at—went weeks without an in-person worship gathering. Thankfully we have the technology to enable us to have church remotely, yet that is not quite the same as being together in God’s house. Hopefully the result of being unable to have live, in-house church for an extended time has made us all appreciate the privilege even more than before and built within us a fresh desire and excitement about going to church.
There are several things that are commonly brought to church for Sunday morning worship service: a Bible, a smile, and non-noise making toys and snacks for the little ones. These are some of the more common items which might be thought of as essential and important, but unfortunately some other things are also smuggled in that take away from the corporate worship experience—such things as attitudes of resentment and jealousy, and the exercise of criticism of every detail that does not go just as we think it should. Bad attitudes can easily keep us from experiencing everything that God has in store for us as we come together to worship Him.
In his book Five Practices of Fruitful Congregations, Robert Schnase writes, “An hour of Passionate Worship changes all the other hours of the week.” He states also that “God’s Spirit changes us through worship. Worship bends hearts toward God as it stretches hands outward toward others.” Without a doubt, worshiping God together should be a part of our lives that we do not take for granted and do not approach lightly.
Just as there are some attitudes that we should not bring into the worship setting because of their ability to interfere, there are others that are advantageous and should be included every time we gather to worship the Lord.
In the book Simple Church, the authors mention three components observed among the people in a healthy and vibrant church: excitement, joy, and anticipation. What a difference it would make in all churches if everyone purposely refused to bring any bad or critical attitudes, and instead came brimming over with excitement, joy and anticipation! That would transform the worship experience into just what God intended it to be: a pure and sincere worship of Him.
As Christ spoke to the Samaritan woman in John 4 about genuine worship, He stated, “God is spirit, and His worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth” (verse 24, New International Version). That points us to the truth that authentically worshiping God is not some insignificant, empty religious ritual, but an encounter with God to be entered in to with reverence and expectancy.
Years ago as my family prepared for our annual vacation together we would do a lot of planning as we excitedly anticipated the trip. The trip itself was not anything major–our destination was only 200 miles away–but it seemed like we were going to some remote place on the other side of the world as we decided who was going to bring certain food items and what we were going to do with our time. It was an event that we looked forward to and we wanted to do everything possible to ensure that the outcome did not disappoint us. In fact, the planning and preparation were part of the enjoyment to me.
In like manner, we ought to plan and prepare for the time that we set aside to worship God together by excluding any attitudes and actions that can interfere with the worship experience. We should make it our goal to bring to church excitement about the work of God, joy because of His love for us, and anticipation of what He is going to do as we open up our hearts to Him.