Whether you have been going to church for a long time or just started, there are easy and practical things you can do to get the most out of the worship service. Before I share those items with you, I know some will read this and say, “Going to church is not about what we can get out of it, but what we can give to God and to others.” That is true, however preparing yourself to receive from others and God is just as important as preparing yourself to give to others. Let’s stay balanced and away from extremes. Besides, getting the most out of the worship service should result in life transformation at some level and that’s partly what it’s about (Romans 12:1-2). How can you get the most of the worship service?
Get ready for church. This can either start Saturday night or Sunday morning (before church). This would include things like praying for the worship team, those in attendance, the pastor or speaker, and asking God to help your heart receive His truth. This could also include getting your clothes ready the night before, going to bed at a decent hour so you are refreshed for Sunday, and not making plans that rush you on Sunday morning. Prepare yourself for worship, make your Sunday morning experience a priority and major aspect of the day.
I know life is busy, but if possible, arrive a little early. I know every church is different, but at Genesis we provide breakfast ranging from donuts, breakfast pizza, various pastries, granola bars, and other homemade goodies along with coffee, juice, and chocolate milk. Show up early to have breakfast, make plans to meet others at the same time to just hang out or pray together before the service. Enjoy the morning.
Expect something from God
God wants to talk to you. He wants to guide you, answer your prayer, and give you strength and hope. One of the greatest places to hear from God is at church. God says, “Come to me with your ears wide open. Listen, and you will find life” (Isaiah 55:3). Expect God to speak to you through the music, preaching, reading of scripture, the announcements (maybe God is talking to you about helping) or from those you have conversations with. Listen carefully to hear what God is saying to you.
Even though I already mentioned this earlier, I want to emphasize it here. This is one of the best, if not THE best, way to prepare yourself for worship on Sunday. Talking to God is an act of worship, but it also helps you to worship. The night before: pray for your pastor, the worship team, the greeters, the sound techs, the nursery workers, and all the others that make your weekend worship experience happen and awesome. The morning of: ask God to help you worship Him with others, to be a blessing to others in conversations, and to prepare your heart for whatever He wants to say to you. During the service: Let the songs be your prayer of praise and adoration to God and lift those sitting around up before God. Afterwards: Thank God for what He said to you, the other believers you were able to worship with, and ask Him to help you to apply His truth to your life.
Get involved and participate in what is happening. This means sing the songs, take notes during the sermon, write down things you sense God is leading you to do, and look around for someone to introduce yourself to and make a new friend. Engage. Participate. Join in. Try to stay away from simply being an observer. If you normally attend worship and mostly watch, try engaging in a new way. If you normally don’t take notes, take notes. If you normally don’t sing, trying singing one song. I’m convinced the more you are engaged in worship the more you will receive from worship.
Jesus said, “Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be.” (NLT) Jesus used a universal truth, but applied it to heaven; wherever you place your significant investments, you will find that your heart will also be there. In other words, if you give a significant portion of your wealth and time to the church, you will be very interested in what happens there. So give and give generously to your church. It is an act of worship and helps you prepare for the worship experience.
Talk with others about your worship experience
If possible, with friends or family, talk a little bit about the service. This is not a time to critique how well or poorly something was done. This is an opportunity to share what God did in your life through the service. Ask each other and yourself good questions: What spoke to you the most from the sermon? Were you able to encourage anyone at church today? Did anyone encourage you today? Elaborate. What thoughts did you have about God during the service? About yourself? About others? Simply share your spiritual experience with others and let them share theirs with you.
Show Up Anyway
You were up too late Saturday, couldn’t find the clothes you really wanted to wear, and didn’t pray for the worship service or the pastor or for yourself. You didn’t give much thought about God or His people all week, and you feel like a big loser. Show up anyway. God knows what you need and it’s better to be there than not be there at all. God will have something good for you whether you are ready or not.