How to love your church
(Even when you don't like it.)
Do you love your church?
I’m not asking if you love the stained glass windows, feel fuzzy about the altar or can’t keep your eyes of the new auditorium.
I’m not even asking if you feel fondly towards the people you worship with!
I’m asking whether you love your church… practically. Love, after all, is not just a feeling.
Sometimes, going to church can be hard. People let us down, we don’t like the style of worship or we feel like we aren’t being fed by the sermons. In times like this, it can be tempting to feel like we don’t really love church, and maybe we’d be better off going elsewhere, or not going at all.
But loving your church is about so much more than how you feel each Sunday. It’s a conscious decision we make to be present, to encourage those around us and to pray for our ministers, because we are all members of the body of Christ.
So here are five ways to love you church, even when you aren’t really liking it.
Get there early
Getting to church on time is good - you don’t miss any of the teaching, you don’t disrupt anyone when you’re finding your seat and you don’t miss out on any important announcements! But getting to church early is even better. When you arrive early, you’re showing those around you that you care about them, because you’re there to speak to people before church begins. When you arrive early, you’ll have the opportunity to talk to newcomers, encourage old friends and maybe even make plans to meet up with others after the service or during the week. Arriving early may be a sacrifice but it’s one that will make a big difference.
At the other end of the service, don’t rush off straight away. Instead, stick around for morning tea or supper or just a chat, and enjoy fellowship with your brothers and sisters in Christ. Ask them how they’re going, what you can pray for, what they found encouraging or challenging about the sermon or what they’ve read in the Bible that week. Invest time in others instead of rushing back to your bedroom.
Are you serving at church? Once you’re involved in the way something runs, it’s a lot harder to be critical or judgemental of those who put on the service each week. It’s also just really generous and godly to give up your time and energy to serve. Sign up to a roster, and get involved.
Does your church need to be set up before the service? Packed away afterwards? Coffee cups washed up? Cars directed to parking spots? These jobs are not glamorous, but you will show real love to those around you when you do them.
Sometimes church might get a boring or the sermon might be hard to follow. But if someone up the front looks out and sees half the congregation playing on their phones, how are they going to feel? Put the phone away and pay attention to what’s going on. Make eye contact with the person up the front, nod and smile if appropriate, to encourage them in their ministry to you. You might even like to take notes to help yourself pay attention.
Pray for those in leadership
Even if you’re finding the sermons at your church hard to understand or dull, pray for your minister! Even if the band is consistently out of tune, pray for them! Even if the coffee is always cold, pray for those providing food. Don’t pray that God would fix the problems you perceive, but pray in thanks for providing these people, pray that you would all continue to encourage and strengthen one another, and pray that he would help you to love them the way he loved you.
Liking your church can be a challenge, but no matter what’s going on, you can always love your church.