Don’t Go to Church with a Passive Perspective: Be Engaged on Sunday Morning
As a teenager, I often complained to my parents, “but I don’t get anything out of church.” Though they tried to reason with me, and they may have secretly agreed, their attempts to change my perspective didn’t help.
What I wish I could’ve told my younger self was, “You only get out of church what you put into it.”
Yes, I could’ve tried harder. I should’ve tried harder. I finally get that.
If we go to church with no expectations, that’s exactly what we’ll receive: nothing. However, if we walk through the doorways of church on Sunday morning with intention and forethought and prayer, we’re much more likely to leave feeling better for our time there.
Here are three tips to change our perspective about church.
Successful Church Involvement Tip 1: Be a Giver Not a Consumer
When we go to church, we miss the point if our perspective rests solely on what we’ll get from the experience. Instead, we should look at what we can give to others. This may be through our example, through our words, or through our worship.
Too many people go to church as consumers. They expect excellence with the message and the music. And if the delivery disappoints, they’ll take their Sunday morning patronage to another church. They’ll church shop.
This puts a lot of pressure—unwarranted pressure—on the preacher and the musicians. But they aren’t there to entertain us. They’re there to point us to God. But with today’s attitude of retail religion, we too often miss this.
In this discussion about giving, I’m not talking about money. That’s a different discussion for another time. By giving to the church, I mean giving our time, our attention, and our attitudes to make it better.
The church needs more givers and fewer consumers.
Successful Church Involvement Tip 2: Be a Partner Not an Attendee
When it comes to church, we often use the word attend. As in, “What church do you attend?” But church attendance is a passive activity. We go, we stand when we’re supposed to, and we sit the rest of the time, staring at the back of someone’s head.
If we just attend church, we confirm we’re merely consumers of it.
Instead we should go as partners, looking for ways we can take part and contribute. Granted, the modern church service offers little in the way of participation opportunities, but we can find ways to contribute to the experience nonetheless.
The three key times are before the service begins, after it ends, and as part of the mid-service greeting, if the church has one.
These provide opportunities to engage with others: to participate, to encourage, and to make a difference. In this way, we share in the process and influence what occurs.
By being at church as a partner of it, we adopt an ownership attitude. And benevolent owners behave much differently than passive attendees looking for entertainment.
The church needs more partners and fewer attendees.
Successful Church Involvement Tip 3: Be a Disciple Not a Critic
Consumers and attendees feel they have a right to complain when their “needs” aren’t being met. Conversely, those who attempt to engage in the process and be a partner with the church, sometimes also feel they’ve earned the right to offer “constructive criticism.”
However, this feedback isn’t only misdirected, it’s also mean and selfish. A better alternative is acceptance. As disciples, we try to accept—and learn from—the things we don’t understand, don’t like, and cause us confusion. In a way, this is the foundation of what it is to be a disciple.
Disciples seek to learn and embrace a more enlightened perspective.
The church needs more disciples and fewer critics.
For successful church involvement, we must push aside notions of consuming, attending, and criticizing. That accomplishes nothing and diminishes what the church can be, what the church should be. When we go to church as givers, partners, and disciples, we will change everything.
Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices.