Often times “getting ready for church” is associated with getting dressed, making sure the kids are ready, making sure we get there on time, and bringing our Bible to church. However, there is a good reason to think more deeply about the type of preparation that should go into going to church. Getting prepared, however, means getting spiritual about church before you even go. Here are some practical ways we can prepare ourselves for church on Saturday:
1. Prepare by making sure you are not hindered by God to go to church.
This is just another way of saying that there are legitimate reasons for not going to church. If a person is sick, contagious and bed-ridden then it is obviously better to stay home. There are other reasons that in the providence of God may keep us from attending church. The important factor here being that we make sure we are not hindered by God from coming to church. This simply means that providence has rendered impossible or unbeneficial to attend the services of the church, be it accidents, tragedies, physical problems, certain job situations and exceptions, or family emergencies, etc. But all too often people today do not attend the local church because of foolish priorities. God’s people should take care never to put themselves in a position where they will continually violate the principle of attending church (cf. Heb. 10.25). Certain hobbies, sporting events, and even employment opportunities may need to be forfeited in order to be faithful to one’s commitment to the local church. Failure at this point will always lead to spiritual malnourishment that will bleed into every area of our lives.
2. Prepare by being ready for Spiritual warfare on Sunday morning.
We should all be on our guard come Sunday morning and begin praying against spiritual warfare on Saturday night. If there is one thing we can all testify to it’s how often Satan will try to tempt us from going to church. We should not be surprised that our adversary aims his darts at us as we seek to make our way out for church. Satan knows that church is the place where believers are strengthened in a unique way. It is at church that we gather in corporate form (something we simply cannot do throughout the week at home or at the coffee shop). The warfare we face on any given Sunday is aimed at getting us to miss out on the strength of fellowship, the grace of God’s Word preached, and the grace of the church’s ordinances. We need to zealously protect all these things and be on our guard knowing that our adversary the Devil is always on the prowl— in the bedroom before we leave the house, in the car with the family, and when we’re running late; he will use anything he can to discourage the congregation from assembling together.
3. Prepare by meditating on the Scripture to be preached.
This will be particularly applicable if your church is doing verse by verse exposition. It may even help to meditate on the broader context of the whole chapter and to foster discussion about it at home and among the other members throughout the week. Perhaps the passage can be incorporated into a family’s homeschool curriculum, family devotions, and fellowship over meals. By giving some attention to the passage and context that the pastor is going to be covering, we put ourselves in the position where we can best profit from the Word of God, have our questions answered, and affirm the teaching of the church. We also stand to gain from this exercise in that what we have been thinking about throughout the week may be intensified and applied to our hearts through the preaching of the Word in unique ways. Think of the unity that it would breed if the entire church was meditating and thinking over the same passage of Scripture prior to coming to church.
4. Prepare by seeking to serve others.
It is important to remember that you are not the only one that needs ministry, and the pastor is not the only one that does ministry. Every member of the church needs prayer, needs encouragement, accountability, fellowship (Acts 2.42). Every member of the church has things going on during the week which has challenged their commitment to Christ and pursuit of holiness. This is where the body is so essential:
Hebrews 10:23–25 23 Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful; 24 and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, 25 not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.
Partnering with the local church happens not just by attending and listening to the sermon and giving our offerings; we are called to serve one another (Gal. 5.13), and minister the Word of God to each other by praying for each other (Rom. 12.12), encouraging each other (1 Thess. 5.11), and serving to meet pressing needs wherever God gives us opportunity (Rom. 12.13; Gal. 6.10). Each week we should look to be an encouragement to someone in the body. Perhaps this will begin to happen more in our churches if we determine to do these things on Saturday. I am reminded and think the words of Peter are fitting here, “For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they render you neither useless nor unfruitful…” (2 Pet. 1.8).