Reasponsible Church Attendance

        Things have really changed in churches I visit, I even see it in some folk in the church I attend with my family, it saddens me that so many are so casual about church attendance. Casual in attitude, in faithfulness, in dress, it just goes on and on. Why is this? Rather than try to answer that let's take a look at our RESPONSIBILITY to a holy God when it comes to attending church. The Bible has something to say about it! Just remember, God will judge us one day. And part of that judgment will be whether we were diligent, yes faithful in our attendance with the saints.

1 Timothy 3: (14) These things write I unto thee, hoping to come unto thee shortly (14) But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth.

        There ya go it's the pillar and ground of the truth. How dare we approach this in a casual way? I'm not saying a church should be stoic and stuffy, rather, it should be alive and joyful! We can and should be partaker's not just observers another words 'pew warmers'.

        First we must face the fact that we are not going to church to be entertained amen. We are there to glorify God. So, that being said how do you and I go about fulfilling our responsibility to this direct command from God?

1. Prepare before leaving for church.

a. We ought to be rested. It is a well-known fact that sleep is one of the most important factors for success. Saturday night is not the night for late fellowships, late movies etc. Decide that the TV will be turned off at a reasonable hour, the older kids are in by a reasonable hour; It will make a difference!

b. Mom and Dad working together. Church is not supposed to be a hassle. It is not supposed to be prefaced by a screaming mom, yelling dad. I could fill a rather large bucket with pennies if I were given one each time I heard people complaining in conversation about what a 'pain' it is getting out the door in time for church. This does not have to be so. It just takes some careful, well thought out planning. Wives, if you are blessed with a husband that lends a hand be very thankful for that. Husbands if you are reading and you do nothing to help with getting the kids out the door and your wife has no time to get herself ready for all the work she has to do with the children shame on you! I can remember when ours were all little my husband putting on shoes, combing the boys hair, helping with cereal and coats. It was a real family affair. There is always something that can go wrong, the more we are prepared the easier those unknown hurdles will be to jump. Following are several different ways we prepared for church raising our children.

A. PLAN on what the children will be wearing on Saturday morning/afternoon. Plan on your own outfit also. Do they need to be washed? Ironed? Make sure these are the nicest clothes you own for you/them, why? Because our children need to know they are going to church, and church is where God is going to meet us today! I'm so tired of seeing people come to church dressed like they will be going to a ball game afterwards. How would you dress to go to a wedding? Or a funeral? A special date with one you love? Does God deserve any less? Save the t's and jeans for playtime, give God your best amen.

B. Set aside sox, shoes, belts, and if necessary hair ribbons.

C. Check to see if the children had verses that needed to be memorized. Although this is something that should have been done all week long, don't wait until the ride to church like we all have a tendency to do, work with them on Saturday. Be sure everyone knows where his or her Bibles are. Even the toddler ought to have a Bible to bring to church, sure it may get put on a shelf once there but everyone needs to bring his or her Bible to church!

D. Wives be sure your husband has a clean pressed dress shirt. Ask him if there is anything on Saturday that he might need for Sunday.

E. You can prepare for breakfast in advance. Be sure you have on hand what will be needed on Sunday morning. Our Sunday mornings consisted of cold cereal in the warm months and crockpot oatmeal in the winter months. Save the big breakfasts for during the week. (Train the children to rinse and put their dishes in the sink when done, this will help with the never-ending extras we have to do on Monday mornings.)

F. A great habit that my husband had was to have a good Christian tape going while everyone was busy getting ready. He would continue this in the car on the way to church also. It helped us to stay focused on church.

G. Finally I think a good thing to add here is that we ought to be sure our children are fully aware of the rules we expect them to follow, beginning with hanging their coats to staying by our sides unless in class or have asked for permission to be mingling, right down to 'this is where you are to be directly after services are over'.

        All in all what I'm trying to say here is have a game plan and with all that is in you try to stick to it. If possible don't try to do it all on your own either, as your children get to an age where they can help out then by all means make this preparing a family affair. This will enable you to not have to do so much as well as train them to have good habits when they have a family of their own.

2.Prepare Spiritually

        Have the right attitude. Take time through the week but especially on Saturday to pray for your pastor, choir and special music, Sunday school, worship services, etc. We need to be praying for the power of the Holy Spirit to have free course. Please don't forget the many lost souls that need to come and get saved.

        You will find in time if you make this a practice in your life that you will be more sensitive to the Holy Spirits leading in inviting people to church. Any time we do what God asks us to do there are rewards waiting! Imagine bring a lost soul to church and when they leave they are no longer lost but SAVED ETERNALLY, now wouldn't that be exciting? It ought to be!

        We need to pray about our 'thinkers'. Pray that God would help you remove all bitterness and negative thoughts we may be harboring. God is looking for a tender heart in His children. Hebrews 12:1 Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset [us], and let us run with patience the race that is set before us

3. Plan to get to church EARLY

Yes I said that dirty word early. There are several reasons why this should be a planned goal.

A. The devil is going to do something to try to stop you from getting there at all. Maybe it will be because you were running around looking for a lost shoe, the phone rings with an important call, a train stops you, an accident is up ahead and on and on it goes. Leave early; be sure to get there on time! I am no wonder woman by any means but even with a crew of 11 we managed to always be at church early. It can be done.

B. Be there early for the brethren. Slow down once you walk in the doors and purpose to be sensitive to the people around you. Put a smile on your face, become actively involved, and extend the right hand of fellowship, in doing this you will help visitors and members to connect to God and the other people around them. Bottom line; be intentionally friendly. This is especially true when it comes to visitors. It's very easy to forget that there are a lot of people there who are not as comfortable as you are. Attending a new church is intimidating for the first couple of times. Remember, other people's ability to connect to God is in direct relationship to your willingness to connect with them as well. They need to know that they are gathering in a loving, accepting environment and you may very well be the key to making that happen.

C. Another reason to be early is to find a few moments to pray once again for the services. Perhaps you can find someone to be a prayer partner with you for just a short amount of time. Why pray? Because you want to know what God has for YOU today. You want to pray for what God has for others today.

4. Hush up and listen!

Be respectful to the Word of God. Have a reverent attitude from the beginning to the end. This means during music as well as preaching. There is far too much nonsense going on during specials and offertories.

5. Be a part!

A. Bring and OPEN your Bible.

B. Sing and be expressive, it's not about being a spectator it's about being a participator. It's a testimony to those around you.

C. Stay in your seat (AMEN). You don't walk out on God.

D. Be prayerful the message is for someone!

E. Raise a hand, say amen! Get excited about the things of God.

F. Respond to the invitation, go to the altar, bow the knee.

        And finally let the truths that are taught affect your walk with the Lord Jesus Christ. Come away from each service with a desire for more involvement, toughened up and ready to fight the good fight. As you leave the doors be able to proclaim "I was glad when they said unto me, let us go into the house of the Lord."

PS. Take the time to tell your pastor and his wife you appreciate him on the way out.

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