Back in college, I took an elective course that required hardly any work. It was my final semester and I had done most of the rigorous courses for my degree program, so this elective was really just to reach the required credit hours for my undergrad degree. If they had underwater basket-weaving, I would have taken that instead, but alas, no class existed. I’d roll into this class just before it began and was able to do well without hardly any effort or preparation. 

Sunday worship is not like that. It’s not the sort of thing you just roll out of bed, show up right on time, and be ready for. Meeting with God in Sunday worship is not something we should take lightly, and I want to give us some simple suggestions for how we can prepare ourselves well to meet with God together as His redeemed people. Let me mention a few.

Don’t Stay Out/Up Late on Saturday Night- Now I know some of you have jobs that require this, so know I am not directing this at you if that’s the case. But for the rest of us, can I just suggest that on Saturday, you be a boring homebody? Or that if you do go out, that you consider being home and in bed early? I recognize that “early” will mean different things to different people. The amount of sleep we need to feel rested varies from person to person, so use your best judgment applying this principle. My point is that we don’t want to have droopy eyelids on Sunday morning in the worship service. A late night does not help in waking up on time the next day, ready and alert for what God has in store for us. Lastly, consider that declining invitations to late-night get-togethers because you have church the next day will be an unusual and possibly powerful witness to your non-Christian friends, even if it makes you seem strange. 

Don’t Be Rushed Sunday Morning- We’ve all been there at some point. Maybe it’s an unexpected accident on the floor from your new puppy or you get in the car only to find that it won’t start. We can’t avoid things like this, but there are other things we can. Maybe it would be helpful to pick out clothes for Sunday the night before instead of being indecisive Sunday morning. If you have kids, try to encourage them towards being ready with some time to spare instead of playing until the absolute last minute. 

Have a Good Attitude- If Sundays are always hectic, then outbursts and short tempers are almost inevitable. The last step could help that but we also want to cultivate a joyful attitude as we get ready and head off to church. This is (or should be) the highlight of our week, so let’s act like it. If we are flustered and annoyed every Sunday morning, our kids and others will notice. Some Sundays this negative attitude will be very hard to resist based on unforeseen occurrences and difficult mornings but let us try to truthfully say with the Psalmist, I was glad when they said to me ‘Let us go into the house of the LORD’” (122:1).

Review for Sunday- We send out the outline for the sermon and the songs we will be doing in our weekly email.  Why not review that on Saturday? Reading through the text, and possibly doing some studying of it on our own can be helpful! Seeing which songs are being sung can be useful in that if we don’t know one very well, we can quickly check it out to familiarize ourselves with it better. 

Linger- Sunday is a day for community–primarily the faith community. It can be all too easy to attend church like we would a baseball game. We grab our seats and check our phone or talk with friends while we wait for the service to start, and then once we hear the benediction (the last out in the 9th inning), we grab our stuff and hurry back to our cars to beat the traffic out of there. I just want to gently say that if this is what your average Sunday looks like, then brother or sister, you are missing out! Sometimes we have to run out for different reasons but consider staying a few minutes after the service.  My guess is that even this simple change will transform your experience. Your relationships will be stronger and new relationships will form. Don’t zip home after the service, stick around to love your neighbors by asking about their lives, struggles, and ways in which God is working in their lives. Lunch can wait a few extra minutes.  I promise you won’t starve!

Value the Lord’s Day– Let me state right off the bat that I am not a Sabbatarian, meaning I do not view the 4th commandment (“Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy”) as being binding on believers in the sense that there should be strict observance and that any work on Sunday is sinful. With that said, I do believe there is still wisdom in observing a day of rest, and we know that it is required that Christians meet together regularly to worship (Heb. 10:24-25). For many of us, that day is Sunday. However, there are so many things that clamor for our attention and time, and many of them seem like good things. Some of these threats include work (which depending on our profession is unavoidable) and youth sports. Other common ones are hobbies we enjoy like hunting/fishing, getting extra sleep, and “family time” (though I don’t see why worship wouldn’t be considered quality time with family). I would encourage all of us to prioritize and value the Lord’s Day, and to make the people of God a priority. This is not to make it an empty day with a list of rules, but by filling it with things that point toward our heavenly citizenship, with the people we will spend eternity with and rest that is to come.

Hopefully this list has felt helpful, not overwhelming. The goal is to help you, not condemn you or weigh you down! When we come together on Sundays, we are engaging in an activity with eternal significance even though it seems very “ordinary.” When we worship, we are drawn by God’s Spirit into His very presence to have an encounter with Him.  This is all because Jesus, God’s Son, lived, died, and rose again for our justification and joins us to Himself when we trust Him. May we come each Sunday ready to worship our Triune God together, and may these simple suggestions aid us in doing so.

*This blog post was inspired by and deeply dependent on chapter 15 of the book What Happens When We Worship by Jonathan Landry Cruse.