On this particular Sunday morning, when our family will not be able to attend church due to one of our children awaiting her COVID test, thus putting us in a hopefully quick quarantine, I’m saddened that we will not be able to attend this Sunday. Yes, I pre-recorded the sermon on Saturday, so praise God that not only will the people be fed, but it prevented me from calling someone on a Saturday afternoon to ask them to preach for me the next morning.
While church is more than Sunday mornings, it most certainly is not less. Worship gatherings are the appointed time in the life of the church and the Christian where we worship together, as instructed in Hebrews 10:24-25:
And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near (Hebrews 10:24-25).
With that, here are some reasons why I love Sunday mornings:
- I love walking into the office before the majority of our folks come. We have spent much time ministering during the week (both ministerially and administratively) in serving our people and readying ourselves for Sunday.
- I love walking in and seeing our bulletin board. On that board contains the teams and team members that take time to help keep us ministerially and administratively moving. I’m thankful for how they use their giftings for the glory of God and the good of the church.
- I love our deacons (yes, their names are on the board as well). I love how they strategize to care well for their assigned members in their deacon family ministries. I love the 1 Timothy 3 partnership we have, providing counsel for each other. I am grateful for the Acts 6:4 ministry we have–they care for the physical needs of the church, freeing me to pursue the spiritual needs of the church in prayer and ministry of the Word.
- I love that two members of our worship team usually arrive before I do on Sunday mornings, making sure that everything is ready for the worship team and choir. They even put on a pot of coffee. They seem just as eager to meet as I am. I’m glad I’m not alone in this. I just can’t wait for Sundays.
- I love coming in to a clean facility. We have a company that comes in on Tuesdays and Fridays (City Wide Management) that keeps our facility sparkly. I’m so grateful for their help and their hard work.
- I love hearing the Safety & Security Team come through to get their nametags and walkie-talkies. I know they come to help our church members and attenders stay safe. We do not take it for granted that people may come in and see our church as a soft target. I’m thankful for the processes our team puts in place to keep us safe as we gather.
- I love hearing the preschool workers go to their rooms to ready themselves to plant those early seeds of the gospel in the hearts of our preschoolers. Peeking in the room, I see them setting up their crafts and posters and object lessons that will help the preschoolers understand more of the Bible visually.
- Later on, I love walking over the building and seeing our Sunday School teachers set up for their small groups. Coffee on, snacks provided, extra books and Bibles at the ready in case a guest arrives, and setting up their Zoom calls to help those whose health prevents them from attending in person. They care about the Word and care about our people. How important are they in making hopeful, joyful disciples.
- I love walking into our auditorium and seeing our Worship Team practicing to help our congregation worship well. They rehearse on Thursdays, making sure everyone is on the same page, coming in at the same time, singing in the same key, and singing with an understanding of the words they communicate. More on this later.
- Then looking up in the balcony, I love seeing our tech team (one at the sound board, one at the computer to oversee the slides, and one at another computer to run the livestream). They make sure the Word, music, and prayers are heard; that the words to the songs are displayed; and that the services go out online to those who cannot join us in-person. I love this. It’s more than about electricity and pixels. This ministry is huge.
- As I walk out of the auditorium, I love seeing our Connection Team come up with their game plan to make sure our members and guests are served well when they come in and when they leave. They always have smiles on their faces and love engaging those who arrive. What a difference that makes.
- I head down the stairs and turn left and look into our Fellowship Hall. On the surface, it doesn’t look like much. We just had some serious leaks that affected drywall and carpeting. All of the carpeting is gone now and will be replaced by new tiles. Yet, I love how our Building and Grounds Team cares for our building (which is our ministry hub and headquarters) so well. They spend so much time at church that I joke that they should just forward their mail here. It’s an older building (built and cared for since the mid 1960s) and needs a lot of TLC, but I love how committed this team is to caring for this building well.
- Soon, our folks arrive for the small groups, Bibles and tablets in hand to engage the Word and encourage each other. I love how this ministry matters to so many at our church. And I love (again) how our teachers and leaders are committed to this ministry.
- I walk back upstairs and in our GLOBE (one of our fellowship areas), I see our ministry intern (Sam) teaching a young adult class. Sam is 31, a seminary student at Southern Seminary Online, and has been with our church for eight years. He loves the Word, loves God’s people, and has a pastor’s heart. I love doing ministry with this guy. He gets it.
- I love teaching our youth the last few Sunday mornings. Yes, we are still looking for a youth lead at our church. So, with all hands on deck, I’ve had the privilege of teaching our middle and high school students. While it has been 20 years since I was a youth pastor, I’m committed to the Word and love seeing how they are engaging. We have some great conversations about the Word and about the culture in which they live.
- I love when Sunday School is over and seeing our people assemble in our auditorium. Prior to COVID, we averaged around 160. Now that we are “back,” we average around 100-110 with still a number engaging us online. We’ve had about 50-60 move out of our church to other places around the country over the past year due to the elevated market here in the Denver metro area. Yet, here we are, still moving. Still, I’m thankful for the long-time members who have stayed with us through the thickest of thicks and the thinnest of thins.
- I love seeing the new faces that have joined our ARBC Family. And they are all in! They are helping us now in all areas of the church, bringing a great deal of experience. They have contributed to the joy of our church, consistently encouraging us and helping us move forward. It’s never easy leaving a church and moving to a new one. Yet, praise God, God brings about gospel partnerships in surprising ways.
- I love it when the music starts. No, we don’t have strobe lights and smoke machines. No, we don’t turn the lights down. No, we don’t rock faces off. We have a piano, a keyboard, drums on occasion, and three or four committed singers singing singable, substantial truths in song. I love that our team picks songs based on the truths of Scripture and making much of Jesus. Sure, we have no frills. What we have is a desire to make much of Jesus–and our Worship Team does just that.
- I love standing before our people to read Scripture, pray for the offering, and then ultimately to preach God’s precious Word. I preach expositionally (the point of the text is the point of the sermon). I do so because I know my tendency to want to go wherever my overactive brain takes me. The Word tethers my sermon and tethers my heart and mind. I pray for clarity of thought, clarity of speech, and that the hearts of those listening in-person or online would receive this clearly through the work of the Holy Spirit. I trust in the Spirit-empowered Word to change lives, as God promised.
- I love seeing open Bibles in the laps of our people while preaching. I love that they recognize that the preaching event is not a spectator sport but an event to which they must be willingly and actively engaged. Some take notes, some don’t–that’s OK. I pray that the impression of God’s Word would stick in their hearts, travelling with them throughout the week, working its way in.
- I love looking out and seeing guests. New faces are new opportunities to make new relationships, relationships we pray will last into eternity. It’s a reminder that we are all “greeters.” And I love seeing our people invite these guests out to lunch after church.
- I love seeing people come to pray after the sermon. Sometimes, I pray with them; sometimes, they pray at the steps leading up to the platform. Sometimes, after going through our membership process, they make their desire to join our ARBC family known–and we gladly welcome them in. Sometimes they come making their faith in our Lord Jesus Christ public–and we gladly affirm this. How joyous that is!
- I love seeing our people fellowship, taking their time to leave church. I’m glad they do not want to leave quickly. How sad it is when people rush for the door when service is over. How glad it makes this pastor to see our people not get enough of each other.
- I love going back to my office to pack up my things. I walk by the desks and remember how grateful I am to those who work in the office during the week, knowing I’ll be serving Jesus with them in the days ahead. I am blessed beyond measure to have such a Spirit-led team.
I could go on. Why this exercise?
I do this because it seems almost fun to some to bash church. No, we haven’t always gotten it right, but we don’t always get it wrong and that’s how God sanctifies and humbles His people. Expressing gratitude to those who help move Christ’s church forward must continue on. Let’s stir each other up!