In my childhood we referred to the church as “The Lord’s House”, and we parked any potential tomfoolery in the vestibule with the coats. Sitting in those rigid oak pews was somber business. We were there to meet with God, and should Dad catch us acting up, that meeting could become immediate and personal.
I was intrigued to read the protocol described in Ezekiel 46:9-10. People coming to worship were commanded to exit the sanctuary by the door opposite the one they entered. No U-turns were permitted. Was Ezekiel prescribing traffic directions to keep the crowd flowing, or could there be a deeper meaning to his words?
Many attend church as an obligation to cross off the weekly list. An appearance is expected. Others show up distracted with cares and pressed with stress. God has another purpose for us in that weekly visit, and I know this because Ezekiel spelled it out:
Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will be careful to observe My ordinances.
My goal should be to experience God’s changing power, and I should return home a different person than I was when I arrived. Is that the usual outcome?
I wear my Sunday clothes, install a neck tie, and carry my big Bible. On the short trip to church I fume over traffic delays while I mentally juggle the events of the next few hours. The crowded Sunday schedule depends on Reverend Windbag finding a reasonable stopping point and cutting off on time. Oh, the times I have wished for a timer-operated trapdoor behind the pulpit or even a pastoral ejection lever! Don’t judge me! You know you’ve had similar thoughts.
And then some uppity brother or sister is parked in my personally reserved space. Another inconsiderate person is seated in my pew, the one fitted by years of painstaking squirming to conform to my shape. The fog of a deep spiritual funk washes across me as I settle in to endure the morning.
Care to predict the impact the praise songs, Scripture reading, and preaching will have on me?
Getting the most from my encounter at church requires preparation. Nothing worthwhile is free (except salvation), and I have to invest to experience desired change. Here are a dozen suggestions to help in the quest.
- Limit Saturday evening engagements so that I and my family are in bed at a reasonable hour. Dragging in to church after two hours of sleep may result in public snoring during a worshipful moment.
- Lay out my clothes Saturday evening. Searching for a lost shoe or an elusive belt ten minutes after we should have left for church is a certain stress-generator.
- Set my clock, and rise before the family. Use the quiet time to pray for the coming day. Do I want God to change me? Ask Him. He loves it when I seek Him. This is a good time to send up a prayer for the pastor, too. His household consists of real people facing normal distractions in the Sunday rush just like yours.
- Avoid distractions before church. Turn off the TV. Stay away from the Internet. The emails will wait.
- Team up to handle the morning rush and recruit the entire family to help prepare breakfast, clean up, and so on.
- Communicate clearly that the family bus pulls out on schedule, and leave for church at the same time each week. Allow adequate drive time to arrive at church relaxed, not spewing over the glowing red traffic lights.
- Pay attention to the words of the songs.
- Carry my Bible, and follow along with the speaker.
- Try to capture something in writing (besides comic doodles). My mind is a crowded city street where many things happen simultaneously. Taking notes keeps me in the game.
- Pray and ask God to touch my heart. Does a brother or sister sitting around me come to mind? Pray for them also.
- Find someone to speak a kind word to and share a smile, a handshake, or a hug.
- Offer a listening ear. There’s a story behind every face, if I take time to connect and discover.
Why not leave a comment and tell us what makes your church attendance meaningful?
 Any resemblance to any person living or deceased is unintentional. Name used for illustrative purposes only.