You’d be amazed at how a few easy changes will not only improve your Sunday morning experience but enhance the spiritual atmosphere of your worshiping community (not to mention the fact that you will impress and please your pastor). Try these:
1. Take your Bible to church. Because unless you go to a lame church, this is what your pastor is preaching from (and if s/he isn’t, why are you still going there?). Wouldn’t it be great to follow along and make notes in the margins? Bringing your Bible will improve your own Bible competency, enhance retention of the message (which has been designed with your spiritual growth in mind) and bless your pastor, who so much appreciates seeing people actively engaged and not just passively receiving (seriously, you have no idea how sweet the sound of rustling pages is to a preacher).
2. Make a habit of stopping by the coffee station either before or after church. This is a no-brainer! To fulfill this resolution, all you have to do is take advantage of the free coffee they serve at church. While you’re there, speak to someone. Help create a sense of community in this place you call your spiritual home by mingling a while and starting a conversation or two. You will meet people you wouldn’t get to meet otherwise and you’ll contribute to the warm and hospitable feeling that those who make coffee every week are trying to cultivate. If you want a church that feels like a family, you need to participate in making that happen. Coming late and leaving early won’t cut it (just being real here …).
3. Sit in a different place in church this year. If you tend to sit in the same spot every week, pick a new place to sit for 2016. Or hey! Make a game of it and pick a new place to sit at the beginning of each month (how crazy-fun would that be?). If you sit on the edges, sit toward the middle. If you sit up front, sit toward the back (and, in like manner, if you sit toward the back you owe it to yourself to try the front. We’re good people up there). Get a different perspective and meet some new people. Contribute by your flexibility toward the kind of church where people don’t always sit in the same place and become unofficial “owners” of their chair (because face it, that’s the kind of church we tend to make merciless fun of).
4. Offer to greet or do parking lot duty at least once this year. This one might not be exactly “painless” — especially if you’re an introvert — but don’t pass on it yet. Once. Just try it. Why should everyone else have all the fun? And why should you get a free pass week after week while others take your turn? If you come regularly and appreciate the kindness being shown by others, you ought to participate in creating that same atmosphere at least occasionally. Be kind toward those who carry the load most of the time and pitch in where you can (oh, and for the record, introverts make excellent greeters, because you guys don’t create a “conversation glut” in the doorway).
5. Learn to clap. If raising your hands in worship isn’t your thing, you can at least learn how to clap. If you attend a service with a band, the expectation is that you will express yourself with more than a “I’m holding up the back of this chair in front of me with both hands while I grimace in a can’t-we-cut-this-short” posture. Contemporary worship is meant to be expressive. If you attend that kind of church (by your own free will, I might add), then why not cut loose and express yourself? This is a safe place! Tap your toe. Clap. At the very least, smile. Heck, you might even go all out and raise a hand (if it feels unnatural, you can always say you were just wanting to ask a question). Participating physically in worship is not only good for your soul but for the souls of those around you and even for the worship team. Show us you’re involved and not just enduring. In some way that is both authentic and a little bit of a stretch, find a way to express yourself so you’re participating in building the worshipful and joyful mood that your worship team is working hard to cultivate.
Five easy things. Do them and your whole attitude toward worship might just improve. Even if you already love it, you’ll get so much more out of worship if you come as a full participant and spiritual investor and not just as a casual, passive or even reluctant observer.
Do this for yourself, for those who work faithfully to lead in worship each week, and especially for God, who deserves (and passionately wants) your whole heart.