Don’t miss the previous post: Why We Go to Church Every Sunday. Those “whys” are important because they create the foundation for adjusting life to make sure Sundays at church aren’t negotiable.
In conversations I’ve had with a variety of people, many struggle to prioritize church not because they don’t understand or value the why of church, those reasons are quite obvious and clear for many. Instead, many simply don’t know how to arrange their lives for Sunday church to be an easy outcome.
When life is so fully every other day of the week, going out of your way to make it to Church on the Gold Coast becomes a possibility instead of an inevitability. And once you get out of the habit, it’s a battle instead of a habit. For many, it’s a battle they lose often enough they just giving up the fight. No more church. It’s just too hard.
I don’t think my family is much different from others who value the “why” of prioritizing the gathering at a local church. My family doesn’t have a significantly deeper understanding of church that sets us apart from others in drastic ways. We aren’t elite Christians. What we have done is arrange our lives so every Sunday we gather with our church. It’s the how not the why that has ultimately made the habit stick.
How my family makes gathering with our local church happen every Sunday:
1. We Don’t Make Plans on Saturday Night
One of the biggest hurdles for people to free up their Sunday mornings doesn’t have anything to do with Sunday itself. Exceptions can be made and often are in my family, but our rule is for Saturday night to be spent at home as a family. Part of this is to prepare our hearts for worshiping with our church body, part of this is to make sure church wins over the inevitable desire to sleep in instead.
I’ve known of many families who don’t turn on the television on Saturday nights. That could be a helpful practice. We just make sure to eat dinner as a family, helping us enjoy a slower evening together. We’re willing to sacrifice doing things late on Saturdays to enable Sunday mornings to happen consistently.
2. We Want to See Our Friends on Sunday Mornings
If going to church means spending time in a room with a bunch of strangers it’s going to be difficult to stay motivated to keep going, no matter how much of a priority it is for you. We try to cultivate friendships with people within our church outside of Sunday morning so that everyone in our family wants to go to church to be with their friends.
This means going beyond the people we already know to introduce ourselves to new faces on Sundays initially, but the next step is to enter into their lives outside of Sundays at church. This happens over coffee, over dinner, in small groups, and during church events, but the bottom line is that we don’t want church to be a place of casual aquaintances. A desire for consistent contact with friends motivates everyone in our family to be present for the church.
3. We Are Committed to Serving the Church Body on Sundays
Church isn’t just something we show up to. Church is something we make happen by consistently serving. Whether it’s with leading congregational worship, praying for others, welcoming people as they arrive, serving food, or holding babies, rarely does a Sunday go by when someone in our family isn’t showing up for church on a Sunday for the purpose of serving others.
This connects with one of the aspects of why church is important: I want to show others through my example that church isn’t something we go to but something we are. And if church is something we are, then we must do our part. Church isn’t a spectator sport, because the church is a local expression of Christ’s body, each part serving the others in love.
On their own, any one of these three “how to’s” isn’t enough to sustain connection within a church, but altogether this combination has served our family well in helping church move from chore to desire.