Had another exhausting
Sunday trying to get your children to sit through church?
Wondering why on earth
we don’t get the kids out so that the adults can listen to the sermon in peace?
Getting frustrated at
the noise levels on Sundays?
Questioning what the point of children sitting in a service is when most of it seems to go over their head?
These are all common
feelings, to which we need to respond in principled rather than pragmatic ways.
And to encourage you: inconvenience is a much more valuable aspect of worship
than many of us appreciate. What if God uses our experiences of frustration
much more than our easy and convenient experiences to make us the Christ-like
people he’s calling us to be?
Anyway, to help you think through the subject, here’s a link to a great collection of resources, compiled by the minister of Gareth’s home church in Stranraer, Stephen Steele. Have a browse, if you get the chance. If you want a light-hearted look at the subject, I enjoyed video at the bottom.
Do you like music? Funnily, today, we’re surrounded by music; everyone’s got headphones in and their own personal playlist. But our relationship to music and singing is more likely to be as a consumer than a producer. Many of us have probably been to weddings of unbelievers, where no one sings the songs. Or we’ve watched athletes or sportsmen awkwardly sing their national anthems. Singing today is mainly an activity to watch and listen to, rather than participate in. People a hundred years ago would think it very strange that when we say “play music” today, we mean press a button.
In this day and age, one of most important things you can do on Sunday is to sing. The Bible treats singing as a command; It’s your Christian duty. “Shout for joy to God… Sing the glory of his name!” (Psalm 66:1-2). Open those lungs. Let it go! Bellow! If doing that makes you feel uncomfortable or awkward, let me encourage you to keep working at it!
Why? Because there’s something about singing to God in worship that combines our hearts, minds, souls and strength in a unique way. We’re told to love the LORD with all our heart and soul and mind and strength (Mark 12:33), and in the act of singing our minds are engaged, our hearts are stirred, our physical strength is exerted, and the deepest parts of our soul are reached. Singing well isn’t about hitting the right notes (though it helps!), but about throwing yourself in to the act out of love for God. Saved sinners make the best singers!
I’d love us to be a church, where what strikes people isn’t the quality of the music, but our desire to sing up and sing out.
At All Nations, we deliberately have two services on Sundays – a morning service at 10.30am and an afternoon service at 4.30pm. These services aren’t for two different congregations (like a shop, extending its opening hours to get more business!). They are for us as a church to worship God twice together (like a family eating two meals together, rather than one).
Maybe the idea of going to two services on a Sunday is new or a bit unusual to you:
– “Why would I do that?”
– “I’m going to feel tired when I get there”
– “The children won’t be able to cope”
– “I don’t have time for that”
Well, this is why we do it: going to church twice on a Sunday helps us use Sundays in the way God intends, better than one(see Exodus 20:8-11); it helps us maximise the day. As your minister, I am confident that you will grow more spiritually as an individual, as a family, and as a church, if you commit to come to church twice rather than once.
Now, I can sympathise with the second and third reactions above (though, not the fourth). At times, coming to church twice on Sundays can feel inconvenient. It can mean saying “no” to children’s birthday parties. It can mean less free time on Saturdays, because you’re getting your “work” done then. It can require all kinds of readjustments, and children aren’t usually on their best behaviour at 5pm! But when something really matters, we’re happy to put ourselves out and our families out. War forces soldiers to show discipline. The incentive of a gold medal drives Olympic athletes to train hard. The prospect of a good-harvest helps hard-working farmers handle inconvenience (see 2 Tim 2:3-7). Well, we’re living for Christ’s eternal kingdom, aren’t we? What we do with our Sundays is a very practical way of showing what our priority is to a watching world, ourselves, and our children.
I’d love us as a church to get the most we can out of Sundays.
Here’s a link to a helpful article about one lady’s experience of deciding to come to church twice: