I know it has been a couple of weeks since I last posted on the topic of the church, but I wanted to post two more posts on the church this week. Specifically I want to provide some ways that individual Christians can practically commit to their local church. This is certainly not a comprehensive list, but hopefully it will be helpful.
I. 12 ways to commit to the local church
1. Show Up
This is a pretty simple one. Show up. Whenever there is a gathering of God’s people try and be there. Make it a priority to be involved in as many ministries as your family can handle. Don’t starve yourself spiritually by hardly ever being at church. Sure, there will be times when you would like to “take a night off” or “your just too tired” and sometimes that is ok. However, on those days when you would like to skip out on church ask yourself what you are going to be doing instead. Is it going to be more profitable for your soul and the kingdom of God for you to miss church?
2. Prepare for Sunday
J.I. Packer reminds us how important Sunday worship is with these words, “We must never let our Sundays become mere routine engagements; in that attitude of mind, we shall trifle them away by humdrum formality. Every Sunday is meant to be a great day, and we should approach it expectantly, in full awareness of this.
Here are some practical tips for making your Sunday a great day:
- Make the Lord’s Day a priority for the Week.
- Prepare your heart for worship with scripture and prayer
- Go to bed early the night before
- Give yourself enough time to get ready and be on time
- When you arrive remind yourself of the significance of what you are doing.
- Stop going to sleep in service, and start keeping notes.
3. Stick around after the service
This may sound like a strange one, but I think that it is an important one. Usually when we arrive to the church on Sunday (or whenever) we are rushed to get where we need to be in time. This leaves very little time for fellowship, or encouragement. If you are the guys running out the back door as soon as the final amen is said then you are going to miss out on a lot in the life of the church. You don’t have stay forever, but you are not going to be exposed to radiation poisoning if you stick around for a few minutes after the service. I can’t tell you how many people I know who have left churches because they didn’t feel like the church welcomed them, or because they didn’t feel connected to the people of the church. Almost always these were the people who were lacing up their shoes during the final prayer to make it out the door in record time. Next Sunday try sticking around for a little while after church.
Commitment to the local church means serving the local church. It means that you show up for church ready to serve rather then consume. Find ways that you can help fill the needs of the church. You don’t necessarily need to start a formal ministry in order to serve, just be helpful. Look for areas where you think something is lacking and try to fill that need. Don’t go tell the pastor that you would like to serve and then wait for him to tell you exactly what to do (although sometimes you might need help getting started). Whether it is encouraging someone with a phone call during the week, changing the trash in the church, or showing up to mow the church lawn just find ways to minister to the church. Be proactive about serving.
Commitment to the church requires obedience. First, it requires obedience to God, but secondly it requires obedience to those whom God has providentially put over you. Hebrews 10:17 makes it clear that obedience is an important part of the process. This does mean that you have a cult like allegiance to any leader. But understand this, when you are a part of a church you have a biblical responsibility to respect and obey the God-ordained leaders of that congregation.
It is absolutely critical for you to be praying for the needs of your local church. Ephesians 6:18 says that we need to always be alert in this matter. When we are praying for the needs of our church then it will not only be used by God, but it will better equipped to serve our church. We will know the needs that need to be met, we will know the people, and we will have a greater love for those we are praying for.