Back to the Basics: Sunday Gatherings
At North Church, we’d like to remember 2017 a year from now as the season when we returned to living out the basics of our vision and mission. Our vision is to “see Jesus preeminent in everything” and our mission is “growing together as disciples and going together to make disciples of our neighbors and the nations”. Last week, we outlined four areas of emphasis: Sunday Gatherings, Small Groups, Serving the City and Sending the Saints.
As we prioritize these four core activities, here are four practical things you can do to maximize your Sunday experience.
Preparing for Sunday morning truly begins Saturday night. Public worship is active and participatory. It is one of the most important things we will do together on this side of eternity. On the other side, we will worship together forever. Our Sunday Gatherings, much like any other holistic event, require your physical and mental energy.
So here’s a novel idea—go to bed early on Saturday night. And sleep in a little later than you normally do on Sunday morning. Get as much sleep as possible so that you are prepared physically and mentally to engage.
Public worship is spiritual. Jesus defined true worshipers as those who worship The Father in “spirit and truth” (John 4:23-24). But most people show up “cold” on Sunday mornings for the gatherings. Take fifteen minutes before you leave home for church and read the bible. Then pray over what you just read. Or actively listen to your audio bible during your drive in. Come into the worship space eager with expectation. Trust God to meet you where you are and graciously give you the gift of worship.
God initiates worship and we respond. This is the proven pattern both in private and public worship. He makes His greatness known to us through His Word and in the sacraments of communion and baptism. We respond to Him by singing, reading, reflecting, praying, confessing and observing. Don’t hold back. Put your phone away for a while. Put your heart into the experience.
Plan to connect with other worshipers after the service concludes. Grab coffee together in the lobby. Have lunch with each other. Share your biggest takeaway. Ask others for their impressions. If you have family members who attend with you, especially sons or daughters in Middle School or High School, ask them about their experiences. Keep your Sunday afternoon free and uncluttered. Then head home and take a long nap or a go for a long walk or read for a long time. Remember that your righteousness is based completely on Jesus’ work and not yours. So you can rest in him.