Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
13 September 2015
How to Walk into Church
When friends move and they’re in the serious business of finding themselves a new church I always pray that they will find a church where they will be well ministered to AND where they can minister well, because going to church isn’t just about receiving. It is very much about giving as well.
If you are someone who wants to do church well – or wants to know how to do church well – can I commend a fantastic little book to you called “How to Walk into Church” by Tony Payne. It’s 64 pages and it took me about half an hour to read. Thirty well spent minutes.
This little book is an encouragement to:-
* Go to church and go regularly. The very act of turning up every week is an enormous encouragement.
One of the most important acts of love and encouragement we can all engage in is the powerful encouragement of just being there – because every time I walk into church I am wearing a metaphorical t-shirt that says, “God is important to me, and you are important to me.” And on the back it says, “And that’s why I wouldn’t dream of missing this.” Similarly, when we stay away for no good reason one week out of three (or more), we send the opposite message.
* Prepare for church by praying – about who you will sit next to, about a good conversation you might have before church or afterwards over coffee (and there some excellent, God honouring conversation starters mentioned in chapter six) – and also by reading and thinking through the Bible passage to be covered in advance.
* Determine to participate actively during the service – standing and singing with joy, bringing your own Bible to follow the readings and listening actively to the sermon by taking notes, making good eye contact with the minister, nodding in agreement or giving an encouraging and warm smile at an appropriate moment.
* Be on the lookout for ways to serve – fill in for someone who’s rostered on for something but didn’t make it, get the person who has a coughing fit a glass of water, open the window if it feels hot and stuffy. Be the meerkat on guard and look for opportunities to be a blessing.
Our aim at church should be to build up and encourage other people – rather than thinking about how much we’re getting out of it or whether we’ve had a chance to exercise our gifts. Love does not insist on its own way or press its own claims. It is not obsessed with its own enjoyment or convenience. Love does not complain or grumble, or stay home in bed because it couldn’t be bothered. Love seeks the good of the other – patiently, kindly, truthfully, joyfully, constantly.
Who should read this book? If you go to church, no matter how well (or otherwise) you walk in that church door, you should read this book. It is such an encouragement to godliness. Even better, because going to church is a group activity after all, is to read it with a group from church – maybe your Bible study group – so that you can encourage each other in the ministry of walking into church well.
And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day approaching.