Preparing for the Worship Gathering
I recently read this blog post by Dr. Chuck Lawless:
While I certainly cannot improve upon the 10 Questions given to us by Dr. Lawless, I want to come at it from a slightly different angle. Tom Ascol of Founders Ministries has often said that Christians should find a healthy New Testament Church then build their lives around it. I heartily concur.
The concept of building one’s life around a healthy covenantal family of Christ-followers was not a radical concept 100-150 years ago in our nation. Frontier churches were often literally situated smack-dab in the middle of a settlement or village. The lay out of the town reflected the actual priorities of the citizens. We can opine the multiple cultural and economic factors that have been the driving force behind our centering our lives today on anything and everything but the church. But truth is, we, the church, are ourselves at fault.
We often tacitly or explicitly gave permission for church members to build their lives around other things, by
- Neglecting to rebuke workaholism among men.
- Encouraging women to seek full-time careers that removed them from the home.
- Turning over the full-time education and child-rearing task to the State.
- Dropping the concept of church membership / covenant altogether.
- Lowering expectations upon those attending worship gatherings, and dismissing any notion of genuine accountability or responsibility to one another as a Church Family.
- Engaging in our culture’s sports and entertainment idolatry, to the point that we thought it a good idea to employ such things to “attract” people to our assemblies.
- Baptizing young children at the first sign that they profess faith, and now the growing trend in the SBC is “spontaneous baptisms” of adults (I will address this perhaps in a future post, but for now will simply say I take those texts in Acts to be descriptive, not prescriptive).
- Turning the Lord’s Supper into a “free-for-all” quaint little tea party.
- Allowing rampant church-hopping driven by a consumerist view of church, without even any attempts between churches to call church-hoppers to account.
- Reducing the church’s discipleship and evangelism schedule to one morning per week so as to not infringe upon people’s “busy lives.”
You might think of other egregious errors to add to my list. But here at Corydon Baptist Church, we are determined by God’s grace to keep rowing upstream against the white-water rapids threatening to sweep the local church to the periphery (if not into the rearview mirror) of our lives. Why?
Because the Church, founded upon Christ, living under the Headship of Christ, preaching the Lordship of Christ and pursuing Christlikeness in every facet of life is God’s Great Eternal Plan A to bring Himself glory! God has no Plan B.
So, this weekend and in weeks ahead you can get with God’s Program by intentionally centering yourselves and your households up on Christ and His Church. Here are a few practical ways to do so:
- Pray and lead your family to pray for your pastors, for Bible teachers, for servants in various ministries, for newcomers and lost people, for your own hearing of the Word, for God-centeredness in your worship gathering, for missions and missionaries.
- Serve and lead your family to serve in various capacities on Sundays and Wednesdays and in other ways available in your local church. Brainstorm with your family about ways you can all arrive at a church gathering or ministry with a servant’s heart, preferring others and considering others better than yourselves.
- Look around during the church gathering to locate those who might need help, or a prayer, or an encouraging word, or someone to sit with them. The elderly, widows, single moms, single young adults, troubled teens, families with many children, guests, and those with physical challenges all come to mind.
- Prepare for hearing the Word. Read the passage to be preached in your home the evening before the assembly. Pray over it with your family. Ask God to convict, challenge and change you by the Spirit’s application of the Word.
- Talk about the sermon and Bible lessons you heard during the church’s gathering. Talk about what God taught you, how God convicted you, how God encouraged you, what commitment you made to God. Ask questions of one another to increase your grasp of the Word. In small groups. Over coffee during the week. At PTO meetings. In the stands at soccer practice. Use the preached Word as a springboard for evangelistic and sanctifying conversations.
- Plan for the next time you will gather with your church family or minister with them. Create excitement in your family so that they anticipate more regular times with their church.
- Invite a church member, a guest in a gathering, or an unchurched neighbor or friend, to join you for a meal or activity, at least once a month. Relational evangelism and discipleship must take root in us, if we are ever to recover God’s Center.
- Say no to lesser things. O God help us learn to say no! The myriad activities our society now offers us, even on Sundays, is dizzying. Dear Christian, ask God for courage to reclaim the Lord’s Day for His all-consuming glory in your life. For it is certain, if your Sundays are mostly secular, there is little hope for your Mondays.
“So that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places. This was according to His eternal purpose that He has realized in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Ephesians 3:10-11).
What would the heavenly rulers know of the wisdom of God through the church by observing your day-to-day life?