Two decades ago, when megachurches were a new thing, we would make an annual trip to the internationally-recognized megachurch nearest us. That Sunday we would climb the winding hill in the line of bumper-to-bumper vehicles that were feeding into the field-size parking lots. Militarily-donned parking attendants with fire-colored batons and unfailing smiles would gesture us into the next space.
The other 50 Sundays, however, we attended a much smaller church that offered the basics, and the things that we volunteered to help provide that were beyond those basics. The church had a low media budget, even for back then, and the bulletin looked the same almost every single week with grainy photos of flora and fauna printed in color on low quality paper. The church didn’t have a logo. This was our church, however, and it was where God had placed our family for that season. When all was said and done, we liked it as much as the megachurch we had traveled a short distance to visit.
There are certain things that we can do that make whatever church we attend more likable.
6 Keys to Liking Church More
1.Take initiative yourself rather than waiting for others to do so. You know those people who have never invited you over? Even if you are newer to the church, invite them over. Do you wish there were a prayer meeting for pre-school moms? Start praying about starting one, then do so however possible. Move forward with humility. God will open doors when He wants to use us to make things happen. We can’t revamp every program we don’t like, but we can ask God where and how He can use us. If you aren’t given official opportunities, then focus on loving people one-on-one. This just may lead to more open doors for you.
2. Focus on blessing others, not just what you take away, personally. I had attended church several weeks in a row, leaving feeling lonely, invisible and empty. On one particularly lonely Sunday, the Holy Spirit reminded me of something I learned long ago: when you are lonely, reach out to other people who seem lonely and solve two problems at once. The following week I did this. I looked around and ended up having several shorter but sweet exchanges with people who were standing alone before and after the service. Those other people may have been feeling that same emptiness. Not everyone will take initiative. Decide to be someone who does. I don’t feel lonely at church anymore.
3. Take responsibility for your own spiritual growth. Life is busy. Many of us go to church and absorb what we can during the one weekly service. If everyone in the sanctuary does this, and limits their time in the Word, worship and teaching to one hour a week, then the church body can’t thrive.
You can be in the pews (or on the folding chairs) with the crowd, or you can run ahead and encourage those behind.
“In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’ ”
Our Christianity is not meant to be passive. Passivity won’t change the world, and we are called to infiltrate the world with our faith and the good news of Jesus. In James 1:26-27, Paul defines true religion;
“If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not bridle his tongue, he deceives his heart and his religion is worthless. Pure and undefiled religion before our God and Father is this: to care for orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world."
Jesus simply didn’t like empty religious traditions.
“If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.”
6. Make worship your priority. The Sabbath is about rest, and it’s about God. It’s the time that we set aside to praise and worship our King. In Psalm 103:1, David writes, “Bless the LORD, O my soul: and all that is within me, bless his holy name.” In the original Old Testament text, the Hebrew word barak (baw-rak’), translated bless or praise, means literally ‘to kneel’. Traditionally, this implies kneeling in worship. There is a solemn component to our church attendance. We set time apart to bless God. He is truly blessed when we focus on Him and submit to His majesty. Psalms were traditionally set to music. Today we still worship, praise and offer thanksgiving to God through singing.
As we worship Him in true humility, He pours out His love to us.
The story is told of one person asking another person how she was as she entered church for the weekly church service. She responded, “Not great, but I’ll be much better after worship!” This is how God intends us to leave His presence: empowered, encouraged and secure in His love and protection.
If church is or has become drudgery or routine to you, draw near to God and wait as He draws near to you. (See James 4:8) Go to church with a desire to give and bless, and you will receive and be blessed. Focus on God and not the people around you. He is perfect. They are not. Receive His love and pass it on. You’ll find that week by week, you’ll like church more!