Going to Church Does Not Equal Ready for Church

Matt Evans

Posted February 13, 2019
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Friday night, Beth, the boys, and I decided at the spur of the moment to go watch a movie together. And just like that, we were in the car and using Open Table and Flixster apps to quickly “plan” our evening. We had a blast together without much planning or preparation.

Unfortunately, we can often approach attending church services the same way, failing to realize that going to church is not like going to a movie or restaurant. We can go to church and still not be ready for church. If we are not ready for church, we’ll miss the grace God longs to give us through our church services.

When we decide to “go to church,” but are not “ready for church,” we generally make one of two mistakes.

We go to church as SPECTATORS.

We arrive simply to watch and not participate … like going to a movie. We want to see or hear something good, funny, entertaining, and helpful. We’re interested in hearing songs we like and a sermon that respects our time and meets our strongest felt need. We go to church to spectate, and we want the spectacle to meet our expectations.

We go to church as WORKERS.

This is not just referring to our staff, but those of you who serve in RB Kids ministry, or in the band, or as an usher. We go to church much like we might go to work: we have our tasks to complete and our duties to perform. We think more about our “work” than our worship and our God.

So how do we get “ready for church?”

Be Ready for our Role.

Our “role” in church is not merely that of a spectator or worker or attender, but rather as a worshipper. Being a worshipper means understanding that the songs we sing are for God first and ourselves second. Being a worshipper means being more conscious of God than any other reality. Being a worshipper means setting our minds deliberately and intentionally on God. Being a worshipper of God is who we were created to be and redeemed to become so that “we may proclaim the praises of the One who called [us] out of darkness into His marvelous light” (I Peter 2:9).

Be Ready to Receive

Without God’s grace, we are nothing (I Cor. 15:10) and can do nothing (John 15:5). We need more of Him and His grace! And He gives grace when we gather ready for it!

Do you know that every time God’s Word goes out, He has a purpose for it (Isaiah 55:10-11)? Hearing from God is an awesome thing that can’t be taken lightly or approached casually. God has revealed Himself to us through the Scriptures and our prayer should be that our hearts burn as the Scriptures are read and taught (Luke 24:32). Additionally, we need the grace of encouragement that only comes when we have regular and consistent contact with one another (Hebrews 10:25). We need grace, and God gives grace. So we come to church ready to receive!!

Be Ready to Respond

Experiencing God always leads to a response. When responding by the Holy Spirit, we are moved in comfort, in conviction, in worship, in repentance, and always toward greater faithfulness and obedience. When responding in our flesh, we are moved to grumble, to resist, to avoid anything uncomfortable, to hear the song and Scripture, but miss the God who inspired them, and to remain the same. When we are ready for church we take responsibility for our response, praying to see the glorious truth God is revealing (Psalm 119:18), to have ears to hear, receive and do His Word (James 1:21:-22), and to praise and honor God for Who He is forever (Psalm 86:12)!

Be Ready to Bless Others

Gathering together for church services is also about being part of the “we” that is Christianity. We are not individuals who attend a movie at the same time; rather, we are members of “one body in Christ and individually members of one another” (Romans 12:5). So we are not just gathering in worship for personal reasons, but for corporate reasons as well. Being ready for church means to be ready for God to use us to edify others. Look for an opportunity to serve, to encourage, to introduce yourself, to extend hospitality, or to pray for someone. And never forget that your worship is a witness and others who have struggles, doubts, or questions can draw encouragement from your zeal and passion for the Lord.

Ultimately, when the service concludes, we leave ready to bless others. We leave with more grace than we came with and are ready for that grace to overflow and bless others because we are blessed to be a blessing. We leave to be the church at our dinner tables, jobs and neighborhoods, and to live sent. We leave telling the holy and merciful God Who just met us–“Here I am, send me” (Isaiah 6:1-8)!

… And we leave knowing we will return again soon. And we will be ready!!

{The main idea and main points of this blog were taken from a blog post by Jordan Kauflin, called “How Do You Prepare for Sunday?” and posted on the web site Desiring God (www.desiringgod.org).}