For most of us, attending church is a habit. We leave home near the same time each week. We park in the same area, go in the same door, sit in the same place, and talk to the same people. Then, we usually go the same restaurants for lunch. We expect nothing different, and we see and hear nothing different.
That’s too bad, because we sometimes miss what God’s doing around us. This weekend, slow down enough to look and listen for these things:
- If you’re married, watch and listen to your family as you get ready for church. If they’re stressed before church ever starts, that’s not a good start to the day. You be the peacemaker, the calm one, the prayer warrior, the encourager before you ever get in the car.
- Watch for people you drive past on the way to church. It’s likely they’re not going to church. See them as sheep without a shepherd (Matt. 9:36), and pray for them as you drive.
- Watch for opportunities to serve. Give up your parking space to somebody behind you. Open a door for someone. Help the mother who’s struggling with three children and stroller. Offer to get coffee for someone else. Serve others.
- Watch for people wandering around the parking lot or the building. Whether it’s a guest, a straying child, or confused adult, he or she might need somebody to give some guidance. Be that somebody.
- If your small group meets at church, look for anyone you don’t know in your group. Whether or not that person is a member, and whether you’re an introvert or an extrovert, introduce yourself. Take the risk. I doubt you’ll regret it.
- Look for people sitting by themselves. I suspect many of us walk past such folks each week. They may not want to be bombarded, but they probably won’t reject a friendly smile and a warm handshake. Learn a name, and offer yours.
- REALLY hear prayer needs. Somebody will likely talk about pains, questions, worries, or needs. Don’t just politely hear those words. REALLY hear them – and write them down. Pray for those needs then and later in the day.
- Watch for anyone standing to lead. That person may be a teacher, a singer, a musician, a pastor, or any other leader. As soon as you see someone standing before you, take a minute to pray for that person.
- Deeply listen to (and read, if available) the lyrics of any songs you sing. Don’t just sing the words – listen to them. Let them sink in to your heart. If you don’t typically listen that closely, do it for only one song to begin.
- Listen closely to the sermon, and take notes. You might have opportunity to hear more of the Word this weekend than many people around the world will ever have. Take notes. At the end, write in one sentence the central lesson you learned.
- Listen to your heart as you hear the Word. Hear the Word when it calls you to change, and listen to your heart. Be aware when you try to fight against what you hear – that might be your heart in rebellion.
- Watch for how quickly you can forget what you heard. The enemy tries to snatch the Word from us (Mark 4:15) before we ever get out of the building. This weekend, don’t miss how quickly your mind can move beyond the Word of God. Fight against that tendency.
Watch and listen. May God give you eyes to see and ears to hear this weekend.