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On Preparing Yourself for Corporate Worship

Recently, I went to a conference for my denomination. I slipped up on my diet, affecting my physical and mental health. The three-hour jet lag made me tired. I spent too much time socializing. I wasn’t intentional. As a result, I found myself showing up late for public worship. My practical missteps hurt my experience of worship. 

On Preparing Yourself for Corporate Worship

Some Christians bemoan, “But I just don’t get anything out of the church service.” Maybe so. But often when believers express these kinds of sentiments, it’s because we don’t personally prepare ourselves for worship. We think we can haphazardly enter a worship service and assume it will be engaging because it’s a spiritual activity. We assume it’s entirely on the leaders of the church to give us a good worship experience; if we don’t have one, it must be the pastor or the music leader’s fault. But this is not the case. 

There are practical and spiritual actions you can take to prepare your soul for worship to help you get more out of the service. If you find yourself wanting more out of your church’s worship services, then take ownership and consider doing the following:  

1. Steward your Saturday nights. Steward your Saturday nights well (assuming your church meets on Sunday mornings). Your Saturday night is not exclusively a time of self-indulgent and leisurely activity, but a time to start preparing yourself for the Lord’s Day. In the fall in the American South, many of us stay up late on Saturday nights to watch college football, often derailing our sleep (and attitude). At some point, turn the T.V. off, leave that party, and put your phone on silent mode. Enjoying Sunday worship starts on Saturday night. Be intentional about how you spend your time. And be extra sure to get a good night’s sleep. 

2. Read the sermon text in advance. A regular attender recently approached me after the service, stating that his action of reading the sermon text in advance helped him get more out of my sermon. It’s not hard to see why. By simply taking 5-10 minutes to read and meditate on the text your pastor is preaching in advance, you’ll position yourself to listen better. Maybe even read the footnotes in a study Bible as well. 

This will be easy to do if your pastor is preaching verse by verse through a book of the Bible. You can even personally study the book of the Bible your church is studying in your personal devotional time. By doing so, you’re already meditating on God’s Word. It will help you to feel more engaged during the sermon. 

3. Show up 15 minutes earlier than normal. I know. Not always doable with three kids. Sunday mornings can be rough for moms with children. As best as you can, show up 15 minutes early, that way you’re not rushed into the service. By showing up a bit early, you may even be able to personally connect with someone (which will refresh your soul) or serve (which will help the church). Don’t show up late. Don’t be in the lobby when the call to worship is announced. 

4. Have a devotional time on Sunday morning. You may think, I’m going to corporate worship, so I’m going to skip my personal devotional time. I advise against it. Although corporate worship is irreplaceable in your Christian walk, connecting with God through unhurried Bible reading and prayer before worship will help you prepare to worship with God’s people. You can also be intentional about praying for your pastor and your church during this time. 

5. Stay 15 minutes after the service. Don’t sprint to your car after the service! Make it your goal to connect with at least one person. As you consider ways to get the most out of the service, remember that, by connecting with someone you don’t know, or encouraging someone who is downcast, you display an attitude that reveals the entire morning isn’t about you. 

You may not be able to practice each one. That’s fine. But if you want to be more engaged with your church’s worship service, consider practical actions you can take. The practical and spiritual are sometimes interconnected. 

Of course, the Holy Spirit is the One who uses the word to build you up in your faith, but there are practical steps you can take to help you get more out of the worship service. 

Let me add a bonus one: remember that the service is not about you. Don’t put too much stock in your ability to remember the sermon points. You won’t like each song or every part of the sermon. Someone may rub you the wrong way after the service. Instead of thinking solely on what you are getting out of the service, focus your mind on the majesty of God, and less on yourself. If you do, you’ll undoubtedly enjoy your church’s service even more.

You may also like:

  1. What Our Corporate Worship Services Need
  2. What Does it Mean to Examine Yourself Before Taking Communion? 

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