Thursday, March 31, 2011

What to do During Church

When you walk into a church service, remember the eternal significance of what you are joining yourself to. You are gathering with the people of God to worship God and to be instructed by the Word of God. As always, He is present by His Holy Spirit.

Remember you are not here to be entertained. You’re not simply a part of the audience – you’re part of the congregation. You and others have congregated together to stand before an Audience of One – God.

It doesn’t whether you have a good voice, or whether you like the song or the style of music being played. It doesn’t even matter how you feel. Worship is not about you. It’s about God. Always has been. Always will be. So don’t live by your feelings in this moment. Instead, focus your thoughts on the truth of what you sing and the and the Person to whom you are singing to – God. He is observing and receiving your worship, so give Him your best.

Be careful how you hear. The message from God’s Word is the most important part of the Sunday meeting. And believe me, I’m not saying that because I’m a preacher who’s looking for a little appreciation. The importance of the sermon has nothing to do with the person who is preaching or teaching. Rather, it has everything to do with the authority and power of the Word of God. Jesus said heaven and earth would pass away, but My Words will never pass away (Matt. 24:35).  God's Word is eternal and is the standard that we will be judged by;  that's how important it is.

When God’s Word is preached or taught, in a very real sense God is speaking. You are not merely receiving information about God, God Himself is addressing you through His Word.

And this is why it is so important that we listen carefully. We shouldn’t be passive observers. How we listen and apply what we hear either honors or dishonors God. You never honor God more than when you reverently listen to His Word with a full purpose of praising and obeying Him. Have you ever considered that reverently listening to God’s Word is a form of worship? It is.

Because God is speaking, we should realize our responsibility as we listen. Hearing the truth obligates us to respond. Jesus said, “Take heed how you hear” (Luke 8:18).

To be brutally frank and honest with you, a lot of people need to get around to this way of thinking. Many people tend to assume that if the preacher isn’t funny or doesn’t tell good stories, then they are under no obligation to be engaged. This assumption is both convenient and wrong. The real burden of responsibility is not on the preacher to perform, but on the congregation to listen and apply. Don’t misunderstand, I’m not justifying sloppy preparation or boring sermons. Pastors should work hard on the content, as well as the delivery, of their sermons to engage the attention of their listeners. But ultimately, it is still the responsibility of the people hearing a sermon to listen carefully and apply the truth they hear.

You will be held accountable for what you have heard regardless of whether it moved you emotionally or not. (Read that sentence again). It’s true for all of us. God’s truth is truth. It doesn’t matter if it was delivered by your favorite preacher or not, with or without pizzazz, or a tearjerker illustration. If I have heard God’s truth, then I am called to respond to it and obey. Period.

This Sunday, I encourage you to sing your heart out to God – the Audience of One. During offering time, give as much as you can – sacrificially. Bring your Bible and during the sermon, let God speak to your heart from the text. Take notes. Note taking can take many forms. Underline key passages that stand out to you. Jot down key ideas or quotable quotes. Write down your impressions. Think of your notes as being memory joggers to help you leave church with big concepts firmly in mind.

That's what you do in church.


Shirley Thornton said...

WHOA! Pastor Ron, you are hitting it out of the ballpark yourself! with your blogs "Preparing yourself for Sundays" and "What to do during church". AMEN.
The Praise Worship songs were the most AWESOME WORSHIP Sunday, and your sermon resonated in a personal way, a God moment way, to me. Our past may be etched in our minds, but when we give it all to God, He takes away the "sting of the pain", and moves us forward to a new life in Him. Amen! God will meet us right where we are, at any moment in life, and bless us as only He can.

Ron said...

Thank you Shirley! Your comments are very encouraging.