I love basketball. I especially love basketball when teams play the right way. There’s something beautiful about 5 people working cohesively as a unit. Imagine all the moving components that must be present. There needs to be communication, they need to know their roles, and be prepared for a complexity of scenarios from the opposing team. They need to know their own strengths and weaknesses as well as those of the opposing team.
There’s a reason why the Warriors are arguably one of the greatest teams in NBA history. They had to work years to build their team chemistry, develop their individual skills, and they had to practice hours together to bring it all together. You can’t produce something that great without working hard for it. In the same way, healthy local churches don’t just happen when Christians show up. Healthy Christians and healthy churches must be cultivated over time with lots of commitment and Christ-likeness.
It is important that Christians realize that the Bible calls for much more than attendance. Sometimes, it is possible for Christians to fall into the false belief that passive participation is sufficient. While it is encouraging for church leaders and other Christians to see a packed house, it wouldn’t mean much if nobody actually knows the status of that person’s soul occupying the pew.
Even if you’re not the one leading in song or preaching the sermon, there are several ways that Christians must work hard to become active participants in worship. The strive to actively participate in worship leads to healthy churches that honor God. Here are a few encouragements to foster active church participation:
PREPARE YOURSELF FOR WORSHIP
Prior to your church’s Sunday gathering spend some time preparing your soul for what you are about to experience. Read through the passage to be preached, pray for your pastor, leaders, and fellow church members. Try and familiarize yourself with the songs you’ll be singing. Familiarizing yourself with the order of worship will help you in your corporate participation.
SHOW UP ON TIME
There is a simple temptation to show up late “because I don’t have any ministry obligations today.” This mindset is dangerous to the soul and harmful to the church. Just because you are not formally serving the local body does not mean that there isn’t any benefit to you or to others around you. You never know how informal conversations can lead to spiritual conversations. You also never know how an added conversation with a few members can help deepen your relationship with them.
TAKE WORSHIP SERIOUSLY
Remember that worship requires active participation. You are not merely listening to a prayer, you are actively offering that same prayer to the Lord in unity. You are not merely listening to songs, you are making melodies in your heart to God. You are not merely listening to God’s Word read and taught, you are thinking, reflecting, engaging, and applying God’s Word to your soul. You are not merely giving a percentage of your money, you are supporting gospel ministry.
LINGER A LITLE
Fellowship is a vital part to the Christian’s worship. Many people believe that a closing prayer marks the end of worship and therefore clocks out the Christian’s timecard. The intermingling of saints is important because it is where healthy encouragements, rebukes, admonitions, and joyful interaction take place to encourage one another to love and good deeds. Friendship can form, develop, and opportunities of evangelism can present themselves when saints make efforts to hangout after the worship service. When a Christian does not spend time in fellowship they are robbing themselves of one of the means of grace.
REFLECT AND RESPOND
By night’s end, it would be helpful to stop and think through the events of the day. Reflect upon a hymn, review your sermon notes, and offer a prayer up to the Lord for a fellow church member. Take these things with you through the week. Reread the previous week’s text. Send a text message to a fellow member that you did not get to interact with. Pray for a church member and let the know that you prayed for them. So much happens on Sunday that it is wasteful to leave it on Sunday.
These are some practical suggestions for a fruitful Sunday worship. The bottom line is that the Bible calls for Christians to actively participate in worship and life in the local body. I regularly pray for healthy churches (not just my own) and hope that you have a desire for the same. Blessings to you and your local church and may God continue to bestow upon us His grace and mercy. Soli Deo Gloria!