This past week we went to Disneyland to celebrate our daughter’s 21st birthday.
While we were waiting to meet her at the main gate to enter the park, it was fascinating to watch the many people’s faces as whole families dressed alike in matching outfits, some running toward the gate in excitement, children laughing and people smiling. The mood of anticipation and expectation of a day at the “happiest place on earth” made this a curiously pleasant environment.
I didn’t notice anyone who was visibly bitter or frustrated about going to Disneyland. There wasn’t anyone deciding to stop for coffee or donuts instead of going straight in. People weren’t deciding to wait for another 30 minutes until the jazz band inside the gate finished playing (since they don’t prefer jazz).
I watched hundreds of people who were about to pay ridiculous amounts of money for food, drink and fun – and they weren’t upset or bitter. In some ways, they were happy about getting a chance to willingly part with their money in a generous way to have this experience.
Observing all this made me think about how we approach coming to church on Sundays.
There are many families who struggle to get out of the house, arguments ensuing all the way down Notre Dame Blvd, and then trying to put on smiles as they walk in the door. Some purposely come to our building late because they don’t value the musical portion of worship. Others feel like they are being pushed or pulled into church by a spouse or a parent, and they aren’t feeling like this is going to be the “happiest place on earth,” but fear that instead of experiencing joy they will experience judgment and shame. Others are concerned that they will be pressured to give their money in offerings to something they aren’t sure is effective in changing lives.
How do you arrive church?
I have adjusted what I do on Sundays so that I arrive at Neighborhood Church with growing expectation, not a mundane attitude of going through the motions, hoping that this time “I’ll get lucky” and God will visit in a powerful and loving way.
- I am spending extra alone time with God before church.
- I’m making sure I have time in God’s Word and silent prayer.
- I am inviting the Lord to do things in my heart before I arrive – and by the time I get here (early); I am filled up and ready to see where God is working.
- By the time I finish praying in the chapel with our teams and first note of music is played, my heart is already bursting with thanksgiving to God. I don’t want to wait 15 minutes into the worship set for my heart to finally connect with God – I want to experience every minute of our corporate worship time in a powerful way.
There is something life changing about choosing to anticipate God’s goodness and believing He wants to encounter you when you come on Sundays to church.
I’ve come to understand that “getting my hopes up” begins to create an atmosphere of faith inside my heart and all around me. It’s not a naïve belief that God is always going to do what I want Him to do, when I want to do it. Expectation is one of the evidences of growing faith.
- Are you coming on Sundays with an expectation of meeting Jesus in His love and power?
- Do you come early for a cup of coffee at Jeff’s café in the lobby to get a chance to hear a testimony or two from friends who have gathered who are so thankful?
- Do you really push into meeting with Jesus during our worship times?
- Maybe you need to do like I did and adjust what you do on Sundays so that you arrive at Neighborhood Church with a growing expectation, not a mundane attitude of going through the motions
So are you ready to see God move?
If so, I highly encourage you to take a look at how you arrange your Sunday mornings prior to our worship service – so that you can arrive with anticipation and expectation that is high. In doing so, you will find another aspect of “life to the fullest” that Jesus intends for us to receive every Sunday and church becomes your “happiest place on earth”.