Worshiping Jesus together with his church is an awesome privilege.
God’s own voice sounds in the reading and preaching of his word. The community of the redeemed responds together in prayer and song. Pastors care for the souls of their flock through their preparation of the service and leadership from the front. Congregants offer, as act of worship, their humble, but sacrificial, financial partnership in the mission of the church.
Take a careful inventory, and you will find that most weeks this is the single most
important hour of the week — and yet we are so prone to squander such a rich opportunity, sometimes even neglect it.
Build a Sense of Expectancy
Recently, I had the privilege of sitting down with worship leader Bob Kauflin, who serves as director of Sovereign Grace Music and is author of Worship Matters and True Worshipers. He is eager for Christians to make the most of corporate worship, and happy to offer his counsel about some of the simple steps we can take to make it more significant.
How do we prepare our hearts for worship? “We want to build a sense of expectancy,” says Kauflin, “that we’re going to meet not only with each other, but with God. That’s an amazing thing.”
“There are no normal Sundays” where we should simply go through the motions and expect very little. Rather, we should cultivate “a sense of faith” toward corporate worship which, he says, “develops over a period of time, just by reading God’s word and seeing how many times God called his people together to meet with them, to remind them of his promises, and strengthen them.”
In addition to preparing our minds and hearts each week through God’s word and prayer, Kauflin offers three basic, but potentially game-changing, pieces of counsel for readying ourselves for Sunday morning.
1. Get Enough Sleep
As obvious as it may seem, it should not go without saying that far too many Christians stay up too late the night before and find themselves dragging in corporate worship.
“Go to bed earlier on Saturday,” Kauflin says earnestly, with a smile. “It’s amazing how many times we do things late into the night Saturday, scramble to get up on Sunday morning, arrive late, and don’t really participate the way we could because we weren’t prepared.”
2. Plan Ahead for Others
Second, for those with young children, Kauflin says make an effort to think ahead and prepare the kids with appropriate instruction for what worship is, and what the expectations of them are, and not just drag them along. And plan a few extra minutes ahead for getting dressed, to avoid the emotional craziness of locating a stray shoe, or some other lost item, right when it’s time to leave.
3. Arrive Early
Finally, Kauflin counsels that we try to arrive a few minutes early, rather than precisely at the moment when the service starts.
“Aim to get to the meeting fifteen minutes before it starts. Think of weddings: no one wants to be late for a wedding. . . . [We should] think of the Sunday meeting that way, where I want to be there early because there’s so much happening beforehand. If all these spiritual gifts are in operation before the meeting even starts, why wouldn’t I want to be there, both to participate and be used by God to serve others, and then to be encouraged and strengthened by those around me?”
Missing Sunday Is Missing Grace
But not only are we prone to go into Sunday morning ill-prepared; sometimes we even neglect meeting together, for the lamest of excuses. So I also asked Kauflin, “What are Christians missing when they miss Sunday morning?” He answers in this short clip: not only are we missing family, but we are missing God himself at work to pour out his grace.
Plan ahead, cultivate expectancy, and make corporate worship a prized weekly habit. When God’s people gather in a spirit of worship, there are indeed no normal Sundays.