I was glad when they said to me, “Let us go to the house of the Lord!” – Psalm 122:1
I’m going to do something today that you won’t see me do very often… I’m going to share with you something I saw on Facebook.
I usually don’t even share things on my own Facebook page, but the other day I saw something from a pastor in our area that I know is relevant to everyone. This is a post from Pastor Brad Curtis, who pastors Mountain Top Cowboy Church in Heber Springs. (link here)
“This morning I decided to do a little road ride, I don’t have a high dollar road bike. I have just a simple single speed made up of old parts and an old frame given to me by a friend. I knew the route I was going to take and that it would be challenging, being out of shape and on a single speed. I didn’t take long to discover I had not prepared, one I didn’t check the weather or wind direction. So for the first 16 miles I was riding into the wind, and with 9 miles to go it started raining, no I had not brought my rain jacket either. I managed to get in 25.5 miles, but it wasn’t a real pleasant ride.
Here’s my point: who made this a miserable ride? I can’t blame the weather man, or the bike shop where I bought my rain jacket, I went out unprepared, that’s on me.”
Unprepared. Pastor Brad goes on in his post to make his point, but I’m going to share that in just a second.
How many times have we been in situations like this? We get in the middle of something, and realize that we did nothing to get ready for what we were about to face. Maybe it’s a test that our professor sets in front of us… And we immediately realize after reading the first question that we should have spent just a little more time studying. Or maybe it’s a job interview, and you realize halfway through that you can’t even think of one strength… much less three… And the only weakness that you can come up with is “I’m just too much of a perfectionist.” (You can’t see me, but I’m rolling my eyes.)
Now let me ask you, how many times do we show up to church unprepared?
I was given the opportunity about a month ago to go to Conway Nazarene after we finished up with worship at GN. The pastor there, Tim Britton, said in his sermon that week that so many times we see church as just a charging station. We go on Sunday mornings to get “charged up”, maybe we even go on Wednesday night for a quick “recharge”. But on Sunday mornings when we show back up to church, we haven’t taken the time to prepare ourselves between Sundays… And we show up with our spiritual lives like the black screen on an iPhone that we forgot to plug in before we went to bed the night before. Pastor Tim said that sometimes it feels like the first 15-20 minutes of a church service are like those minutes that our phone is on the charger after we have let it die… It’s charging, but the phone is still useless, and the screen is still back. We’ve come to church unprepared.
The truth is that the church can only do so much in regard to your spiritual life. If you go to church on Sunday, Wednesday, and even attend Sunday School, that’s 3 hours a week that you are in church. But what are you doing with the other 165 hours?
Let me just speak bluntly: if those three hours are the only time you are spending in prayer, reading, and listening to God, then those three hours aren’t doing very much for you. You’re just wasting your time.
I’m just as guilty of this as anyone else. I spend most of my week preparing for Sunday. Getting the music ready, prepping the slides, making sure everything is working and in order, etc… But when I come to church on Sunday morning I still feel sometimes that I have come unprepared. I’ve let a whole week go by without recharging myself outside of church, and I come to church with a dead spiritual life, and that gets in the way of what God is trying to say to me in the service. I leave still feeling empty, distant, and miserable.
I really enjoy reading posts from Brad because he is unapologetic about the word of God. He doesn’t beat around the bush or dance around feelings, he gets to the point. He finished his post by saying “So let me ask, do you show up at church unprepared then blame the pastor, greeters, worship team and everyone else for your unpleasant experience? Sunday comes every week, and you should show up at church prepared, prayed up, confessed up, studied up, heart prepared to hear from God, tithes ready to give, a smile on your face, and Jesus in your heart.”
For us to get the most out of our time at church, we have to come prepared and we have to come with some charge left in us. Otherwise, we may not be getting much out of it.
Our church staff spends all week preparing for Sunday to make sure that we present the word of God in a way that is relevant to the lives of those in our congregation. So, in the words of Pastor Brad, “if you leave cold, wet, and miserable… maybe, just maybe, that’s on you.”
Hunter, Creative Arts Director