Thursday, April 16, 2015

When Church is Work

I remember many years ago when my family would be the first ones at church. We were also the last ones to leave. If the doors were opened, we were there. We loved church. Sunday nights especially. We went early for choir practice, then fellowshiped for awhile. Then service began with praise music. We sang, clapped and worshiped. Then the preacher began and that was followed by time at the altar. This was even more special. I remember times when my parents would pull us kids into the corner of the altar and we would kneel together and pray. Sometimes mom would have to snap her fingers to get us to focus. But we prayed together as a family. And sometimes the altar times were so powerful! The Spirit of the Lord fell hard. People shouted, danced, and fell under the Spirit. People were saved, delivered and healed. People encountered God. It was amazing!

Fast forward many years, church is hard. My family is in ministry, my husband and I are the children's pastors and my husband is the associate pastor. Every single service we have ministry work to do. Which is great.

Can I just be honest here? Sometimes we leave church and I feel like we worked instead of encountered God. Going to church is a job for us. Yes it is ministry, but it is still a job. If you are a pastor you understand this, it is your ministry but also your job.

We are still the first ones there and last to leave. We are still there every time the doors are opened. We adore our church family and feel so blessed by them. Our church is wonderful. But there are times, seasons, when I don't feel that same fire or passion.

I want to encounter God. I want to bless His name. I want to feel His presence. I want to bless others. I want to be on fire.

Photo Credit

Here are a few ways to make church more than work:
  • Remember that your corporate worship at church should be an overflow of your private worship at home. Church should never be our only time of worship, Bible reading or encountering God. Spend time with God each and every day. Read the Bible, listen to praise music and worship Him. We have a precious mature lady in our church, she openly worships God each service. But one time she told my husband and I that her worship at church is nothing compared to her worship at home. Did you know that even at home you can lift your hands in worship? Even at home you can bow down in reverence. Make sure you are spending time with God each day, not just Sunday.
  • Don't skip your quiet time on Sunday just because you're going to church. For a long time I wouldn't have my quiet time on Sunday morning because Sunday mornings were just too crazy. Sunday was the only day my husband got to sleep past 5am, so I took it upon myself to get all 4 of the kids ready alone. Some days I even cooked breakfast, but don't worry, some days it was just cereal. I had to get ready. Even though the Saturday before I had everything out and prepared, it always seemed there were last minute things to do. Plus, we were going to church, so it was okay to skip quiet time right? Yet I've found over the past year that when I make it a point to meet with God in my own home before church, I have a greater encounter with Him at church. Remember the whole 'corporate worship is an overflow of private worship'?
  • Pray at church before service starts. We get to church every Sunday by 8:30am. For the next hour and a half we are doing last minute prep work and getting things ready for children to come to their church. Most Sunday mornings we already have a room full of kids during this time (other leader's kids). So we are already in full on work mode. Our other pastors and our worship team are the same way. So we purposely pause for prayer together before the service starts. At 10:00am we all gather around at the altar, hold hands and pray. This prepares our hearts and let's us touch God before service even begins. Even if your church doesn't do this, you can!
  • If you work at church, strive to attend a service that you don't have to work at. Sometimes this is really hard. Our job is at every service. So for my husband and I, this means going to revival services or sometimes visiting other church's services that may be on a different night. Many of our workers in our church rotate so that they minister/work and have time to simply be in the service and encounter God. If you work in every service, try to attend a few services a year that you are not working in. This is a great time to visit friend's churches.
  • Have an accountability partner. A pastor wife friend of mine was sharing at our women's night recently. She shared how she has accountability partners in place that will gently reminder her when she is taking on too much and they help her say no. Sometimes we just need a break. Maybe it's cutting back from several small groups at church to only 1 small group, maybe it's a break from leading a Bible study and just becoming an attender for awhile, maybe it's cutting down from working 3 weeks in the nursery to working 2 weeks. Have a mature Christian in place who can guide you and pray with you in this area.
Recently the Christian music group Sanctus Real came out with a song. This song brings me to tears every single time. I want you to turn up your speakers and listen. Think back to that time you were so on fire for God. You couldn't wait to get to church, to minister, to share with others of your faith. You didn't care who saw you raise your hands in worship. You just wanted God. You were so hungry for Him. Friends, it's time to get back to that.

What are other ways you intentionally encounter God when church is work?

1 comment:

  1. Wow! Sometimes I forget how it used to be...I love those times in the corner of the altar with all of our was such special family time for us. But you are right...there are so many times I feel like I leave church having done only the 'work' and not encountering my Father! As a lead pastor now, I don't ever get to be a congregant and I miss that. I wouldn't change God's call on my life for anything, but I wish that I had more opportunity to be in the congregation again! Thank you for these tips. God is good and He if faithful.


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