Our church family recently gave me a sabbatical to refresh, focus on education and training, and invest time in activities that will enhance my ministerial capabilities.
One of the activities I was greatly anticipating was visiting other churches on Sundays. As a pastor, my time on Sunday morning is highly logistically concerned and executed from a unique perspective. I am constantly at work to ensure the time the church spends together is edifying, glorifying to Christ, and free from unnecessary disturbance or distraction. Without these responsibilities, I assumed my time with the church would be easy. I was wrong.
It was great to worship alongside other local church families and not have to worry about the processes involved. Hearing from other teachers of the Word and singing songs familiar to others was refreshing and helpful. Sitting with my family was a joy. I anticipated those things.
What I did not anticipate was my struggling mindset going into worship each week.
The enemy has a stocked quiver to use against God’s church, and I believe a large number of arrows are shot on Sunday mornings. Whether it’s the struggle of getting kids ready (mentally and physically) for church, a malfunctioning appliance, the unexpected scheduling hiccup that arises, etc., it is incredibly easy to walk into the worship center not refreshed and open to what God has, but distracted, out of breath and certainly not in the place of mind you hoped.
The Sunday morning struggle is real. So how do we fight it?
I want to offer three questions to ask each week in order to fight the Sunday morning struggle before it begins.
1. Do I know the real battle?
There is no time during the week Satan wants you more distracted, temperamental and tired than when you are gathering with the people of God under the Word of God. His attacks against you are subtle, yet strong.
It is not your kids you are fighting. It is not the music that is distracting you. It is not just coincidence that adds five minutes here and there to your Sunday morning routine. You are a target. Prepare to fight for your time and attention spiritually, mentally and physically.
2. Am I preparing well?
If Sunday morning is the first time we have thought about the church that week, we are disadvantaged. If the sermon is the first time we think about the passage for that Sunday, we are behind. If Sunday church attendance is dependent on the way things go that morning, we have already prepared to fail.
Sunday morning decisions should not be dependent on Saturday night realities. Saturday night decisions should be dependent on Sunday morning realities.
3. Am I asking the right questions?
Sunday mornings are full of questions. We need to make sure we are asking the right ones.
It can be tempting to ask about ways we will be served at the church gathering. But how would our Sunday morning be different if, instead of asking how we will be served, we asked whom we will serve? What if we asked not if the preaching will be on something we like, but on something we need?
Let’s examine our questions. What do they say about the way we mentally and spiritually approach the Sunday morning church gathering?
The time gathered with our church families is sacred. We should be grateful to God for the opportunity to meet freely and hear God’s Word proclaimed unapologetically. But what seems innocently easy can be easily taken for granted. Take the time this week to invest early in what you will do Sunday morning and with whom you will do it. Pray for your pastors. Plan for your time. Pour into your church.
May our time together on Sunday mornings not just be with the church, but for the church.