It’s time to take your Christian life up a few notches! Get yourself up and running on Sunday to prove your worship through your body as a living sacrifice. You can use Sunday to prove God’s good, acceptable, and perfect will. You need to make Sunday your best day by getting to bed in good time on Saturday night. Actually, if you start getting ready for Sunday on Saturday, you will increase the probability of a great day.
The New Testament speaks consistently of the church as a body where all the parts interact with each other. The relational dimension is in love among God’s people. The nature of that love is much more about intentionally doing things that demonstrate love than it is about the feelings that often accompany loving actions.
The church usually has its main gatherings on Sundays. These meetings bring some of the components that remind us of the entertainment event. Many people attend church on a Sunday as if it is like attending a movie, concert, opera, or sporting event. You can sit in the seat by yourself – perhaps beside a family member or two – enjoy the event, and then leave without relating to anyone other than with a warm smile, a handshake, and a quick hello.
And sadly, for some, they are only events for their individual consumption. They come; they sit; they soak it in; they leave a little different in some cases. And that’s not good enough. We can do better. But how?
Arrive at least fifteen minutes before the posted starting time. This isn’t so you can get to your favorite seat before the program begins. It isn’t the same as arriving at a concert early. This is the time to fulfill your mission as an ambassador for Christ. You have service to complete other than some official job taking care of business. You have personal work to do. If you are not ready for that work, you will stand around and wait for something to happen. So you need a plan before you leave your house.
Get your eyes on the right things. All believers should set aside Sunday as one day in seven, primarily focused on the Lord, his work, and his people. This plan is not about the kind of reflection that needs to happen about our personal lives. That is important, but this is about reflecting on your relationships with others because that, too, is important. If everyone reflected adequately on Sunday morning, it would start people on a more productive, whole, and happy track. The need is to reflect on the needs of others. Reflect on simple needs and straightforward solutions you can be a part of.
Learn to reach back into memory and think about who was there last time – or perhaps not there. When someone you haven’t noticed recently comes to mind, give them a quick and immediate phone call on Saturday evening. If you think about that person, you can take it as an assignment from the Lord that it is your job to talk to them personally.
There are three different kinds of relationships to consider before Sunday morning.
Think through who you talked to last time and how you need to follow up. Call to mind the demeanor and body language they exhibited and identify who might need an encouraging word or gesture from you. You know these people at some level, and there could be many of them. You probably won’t be able to have engaging conversations with all of them, but you can spread your love to a few. You can pass on the message if you uncover some fact about their life that needs tender loving care from another church member.
Think about the people you may not have met yet who could use a warm conversation with you. Particularly, think about those most likely to be at the same stage or in a similar station in life as yourself. You should relate to people in all socio-economic positions with equal respect. However, if people are more like you, they will align more with you than someone from another generation, occupation, etc. Therefore, for their sake, you should reach out to newer or unconnected people who are somewhat like you – not because you find them more attractive or easy to relate to but because they will find you a better social fit than others who are not like them.
Think about the people God has for you to invest in. You must – not should – but must make a special investment in mentoring others. This is not about you finding friends or being a friend; it is more than that. It is about helping someone to move forward in their life towards a closer walk with Jesus. Build and strengthen bridges with such people. Over time, you will move into a more intimate relationship where such people look to you for mentoring and leadership. There is a place for peer support. However, in contrast, the one with more life experience should pass on the benefit of that experience to the one who hasn’t had it yet. Generally speaking, that person will perhaps be younger than you by a decade. Teenagers and young adults have a habit of getting input from others at the same stage in life. They need to get feedback from those who have already gone through what they are about to go through. That is the same all the way up the age ladder. Consider becoming a mentor of someone younger than yourself.
You will meet your other friends at church as well. If you are not intentional, they will consume all your time, and you won’t get to your service with others. That is why you must plan all this before leaving the house. If you anticipate an awkward or difficult conversation, ponder what you want to say and how you will respond to what your contact might say back to you. You are going to church to worship by being like Jesus and serving others. Along the way of doing that, you, too, will receive a blessing.
You will find that if you pray about the Lord giving you some unique service to perform with someone, he will give it to you. What might otherwise seem like a random contact will become a meaningful conversation for eternity and a lifelong relationship. You may not see that at the time. It could be months or even years before the seeds you plant develop. Be patient with everyone, but keep sharing your life; in the right season, you will reap a harvest.
The second step is to recognize the places where you need to concentrate your attention. You can’t relate to everyone, nor can you help everyone. But you can relate to someone and can help them. Further – stay with me here – you can support and help someone you can’t personally help by taking steps to encourage another person who is in closer alignment to the one you don’t relate to well to take on the relationship. Point others in the direction of needs they can fill, and you will magnify your impact.
It takes concentration to recognize where and how to serve people. Learn to put in the time and effort to grow in your capacity.
Pray that the Lord will elevate your awareness of how to move the ministry forward. In your prayerful attitude, allow time to quietly listen for names and images to come to your mind. Then make sure these are the ones you contact first whenever possible.
Imagine a church where all the workers in the church push themselves to think about others and how they can pave their walk with God for them. This creates a loving church. People need to be loved, accepted, acknowledged, complimented and encouraged. Resist the urge to advise people about what to do. You will learn that if you ask instructive questions, people usually will answer in a way that they advise themselves on a better approach to their lives. They will tell you how they can improve their lives more often than you might imagine. Then, ask how you can support them in creating the action they have promised to take.
There will be times when you need to rebuke another, but be very careful about that. There may be facts about their past or current situation that would be helpful to know so you can properly tune your message and its intensity. Public spaces where others may observe are usually not a good place for a rebuke. Take the person aside where others won’t hear if you have strong words to say.
In this step, you must recognize what you need to see. If you are worried about what others think of you, you will miss what you should see. Use your ears, your eyes, and especially your heart to gather the perception you need so that others can be blessed. You might notice someone off to the side hoping to talk to you. Pay attention to that possibility.
Ask the Lord to arrange appointments for you in these conversations. When you do that, you will be amazed at how much more you recognize needs. God will cause you to be at the right place and time for the conversation you need. But you have to look out for such conversations. If all you are doing is looking for friends to talk to, you won’t see what you should be doing.
Remember what is important to others to follow up with them. You can only remember some things. You can forget something you were sure you would remember. Don’t trust your internal memory. Create external memories by jotting them down on your phone or Post-it notes. Take your tools with you. All you need for this is a pad of Post-it notes and a pen or the phone you probably already have in your pocket. Even a one-word note will probably be all you need to jog your memory.
If someone tells you they have a job interview on Tuesday afternoon, make a note to yourself to phone them on Tuesday evening. They will be so blessed that you thought of them. Pay attention to exams, games, or important events others tell you about and don’t forget to ask them how things went.
When you meet someone new, their name might go in one ear and out the other if you don’t work at it. You think you will remember, but be safe and mark it down for yourself. Remember people’s names and call them by their names the next time you see them. You might think you can get away without using their name, and you are probably correct. But if you use their name a few times in conversation, you will make people know how important they are. Learn a new habit with this if you aren’t good at it yet. You will get better and better with practice over time.
One particular way you can show people how much you care is to send them an actual physical card through the mail. You can remember special days this way, and you can also not forget special times. Thank people for investing time with you even when you are actually the one who is investing in them. There is a very true adage: people don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.
Develop the habit of talking with people about what they get right. Notice a pleasant smile and comment on it. Compliment people on their appearance, accomplishments, and even on efforts that don’t work out as well as they had hoped. At least they tried.
Concentrate your words on positive things. These are words that invite people to more life and vitality. They don’t want to hear you reject their ideas in the same way you don’t like it when others reject what you are saying. Even when someone is wrong, you usually don’t need to tell them so.
Make it your intention to avoid using the word “but” and replace it with the word “and” when it is a better fit. Even when you think you are expanding on the other person’s idea, if you use the word “but,” they will probably think you disagree. The physical receptor parts of our brains have more contact points for negative information than positive ones. Therefore, people are wired to see and hear negative thoughts and experiences. This means you must work extra hard to be positive to compensate for negativity. Everyone is two times more likely to notice something negative than they are to see something positive. Develop the discipline to stay positive.
Staying positive is hard to do when so many bad things happen. You will be capable of much more positive thinking and language when you are well-rested. Saturday night is no time to stay up late because it will tend to ruin your Sunday morning. Sunday is the day everyone needs to be at the top of their game.
Thank all the participants who lead in church meetings with sincere thanks. And thank participants who attended the church meeting for their participation as well. Remind them how much joy they have given you by simply being there.
These ideas blend into one another, and each step is necessary to create a good plan for Sunday morning. It is very easy to underestimate their power. You might not think that your part is significant, but it is. Every little bit helps. When a good number of people in a church take this approach every week, it makes for a happy, vibrant church. You are a big part of that. You don’t want to fail in your job. Some people do this quietly, whereas others barely notice. Others are more outgoing personalities and appear to find this easy. It isn’t as easy as you might think for them either. They just work hard at it.
If all this is new to you, you can expect it will initially feel awkward. As with most life skills, you are bad at it before you start to get good at it. Even at that, you will continue to feel you must get better no matter how good you get. Never give up or hide behind the notion that you will be active behind the scenes and let others build the relationships. It might be true that you do more behind-the-scenes support, which is good. It is also good that people see your face and hear your words. That makes people unique as the only ones of God’s creatures who can communicate with words! Words and body language are vital components of a life of love. Make it your ambition to love more and more, and you will be profoundly and permanently blessed!