Other people cannot make you happy: happiness depends mostly on you. Worship is like that, too. The band can rock, the praise can make the walls shake, and the pastor can call down the glory of Heaven. But if the Spirit can’t move you personally, lunch may be more useful than the time you’ve just invested at church. Here are some simple tips to guarantee you are fully engaged when the call to worship rings out on Sunday morning.
1. Wear some worship to church. When you first wake up, pause to sit up in bed and give thanks to God. While you are getting dressed, reflect on God’s goodness to you over the last week. Think of what life was like before you met Jesus. Then go to church prepared to give thanks with gusto even if everybody else sits there like rocks on the shoreline.
2. Go prepared to give as well as receive. Identify a Bible verse that has meant a lot to you this week and be ready to pass it along in conversation. Think of something you’ve learned this week that might be useful to someone else. Be ready to pause and pray right there in the worship center with someone who is struggling. Don’t make it all about you.
3. Be on the lookout for people who are changing, growing, elevating in their faith. We all tend to notice the usual suspects who are cranky, rude, or impatient; but then we come away complaining! A few weeks ago, a longtime member who has often struggled with anger issues came over and offered a sincere apology for a recent episode that really wasn’t that bad. I knew what a big step of spiritual growth this was for him: evidence God was working right there in front of me. That fired me up for worship.
4. During the message, critique your own attitudes rather than the pastor’s style. If you sense skepticism, impatience or offense rising up inside, ask the Holy Spirit to reveal the roots of these bitter weeds. Ask God to forgive you of evil in your heart. Then give thanks for the sermon that allowed you to repent and grow.
5. Take notes– not only about the pastor’s remarks, but about impulses and insights the Holy Spirit brings to your mind. If a story in the sermon reminds you of an act of kindness you have been planning to perform, jot it down and commit to action.
6. Plan to linger for a moment after worship and greet someone you’ve never met before. Look around for someone who is not engaged in conversation with anyone else: walk over and shake his hand. Introduce yourself and offer a sincere compliment or an encouraging observation. When you’re having a bad day, an unexpected smile is sometimes sufficient to help you rise above the gloom. Help someone else rise up!
7. Pay it forward. Pick a staff member or greeter or someone else who actively serves the Lord, and commit to drop that person a note of appreciation during the coming week. Let some of the joy God has generated in you spill over into the life of someone else.
Worship is a time when we set our hearts on bringing a smile to the face of God. Sometimes the quickest route to worship is winning a smile from a fellow struggler while you’re getting in gear to praise the Most High God.
Lift up the Cross!