How to Get the Most (as a Mom) from Corporate Worship

On any given Sunday morning you will find our entire house a buzz with activity as the family get around for church.  There are farm chores that have to be done (even on Sunday chickens still need to be fed, the calf still needs his bottle and the beta fish is jumping around in her tank saying, “don’t forget me!).  There is a husband that needs breakfast and five kids that seem to think they need to eat too before we leave for church.  

The dynamic in our home is a bit different because we have seven people getting ready to leave at the exact same time with only one bathroom!  I have a special needs child that I am trying to encourage to get ready for church independent of Mom or Dad – and usually takes 3-4 attempts to get it all right.  (“No, Zak that does not match – go put on what I laid out for you last night, and comb your hair, and make your bed and don’t forget to zip up your pants…. Did you brush your teeth?)  

Zak all ready for church - before Mom saw him. 

All of this can leave this Momma just a little exhausted by the time we all get into the van and heading down the road for church.   Throw in a few squabbles to have to referee and you pretty much have what my Sunday morning looks like.  It is easy to get side tracked and even wonder if it’s worth all the work to get the family to church every single Sunday morning.  

Call me old fashioned, but I honestly feel that the most important day of the week is Sunday.  This is the day out of the week that we have set aside as a family to stop our normal routine and spend time reflecting on God and His Word.  It is easy in the middle of getting everyone around and out the door to forget how important the day really is.  It is easy to get frustrated and to not be under the control of the Holy Spirit as I interact with my family as we get ready for church.  When that happens it is very difficult for me to get everything I can out of the church service.  (It’s kind of hard to sing “I Love to Tell the Story”, and not feel like a hypocrite when my words were filled with anger as I told the kids to stop fighting and just get out in the van an hour before).  

Have you been there?  Have you sat through a church service dazed ?  I want to get everything I can out of corporate worship.  I want to come to church ready to hear what God has for me and leave filled with the knowledge of God’s will for my life and my upcoming week.  How can I do this when my life is so busy?   

Here are some things that have helped me get the most out of Sundays.

1.  Start the Night Before

Nothing can slow down forward motion like having to stop everything to find a child’s missing church shoe.  Notice I said, shoe – singular.  Church shoes never seem to go missing in pairs.  (Unless you have a boy that decided he did not like his church shoes and threw them in the trash – only to inform you of this fact on the Sunday morning of the church Christmas program. In which case, I am here to tell you that a Pastor’s son can stand in front of the church, in December, in Wisconsin, with only socks on his feet and say his lines in the Christmas program.  Yes, I was embarrassed to the point of tears; but lived to tell about it – and eventually laughed about it.)  But I digress…  Having clothes laid out the night before, from hair bows to church shoes, has helped our Sunday morning go a little smoother.

Another way we try to prepare for Sunday the night before is by making Saturday nights free from activities and having the day end sooner than a normal night out of the week.  Sure, there are times when there is a youth activity or a church activity planned at our church.  We would not keep them from a planned church activity;  but as much as we are able, we have the whole family home on Saturday evening and spend the night in quiet activities like reading or playing quiet games.  We all try to get to bed earlier also.  I have one son (the same one who discarded church shoes) who has great difficulty staying awake in church if he got to bed late the night before.  As much as we can, we try to make Saturday nights as uneventful as possible and a night to wrap up early and get a good night's rest.  

2.  Go to Church Ready to Participate

God never intended for us to be spectators when we go to church.  He wants us to be participants.  Participation in church helps you get a lot out of the church service. 

One way we can participate in church is interacting and engaging in fellowship with others before and after the church service.  God can use a simple conversation with someone at church to encourage your heart; and God can use you talking to someone to encourage their heart.  We have a lady at church that is always smiling.  Always.  I watch as she participates in greeting others.  She always has a kind word for those whom she passes.  Kids go up to her just to have her say hello to them and give them a hug.  I am positive she leaves church filled with joy because of all of the people who came and talked to her;  and those whom she greeted were encouraged also.  She has a way of making every person she is around feel special. 

Another way to participate in church is to be engaged in the song service.  Sings the hymns and pay attention to the words you are singing.  God has designed music to prepare our hearts for the message from His Word. There have been times when I have had to catch my breath as I sang these meaningful hymns as the truths of the words ministered truth to my heart.      Many times there has been a paradigm shift in my thinking as my mind shifts from having an earthly focus to a spiritual focus - and the preaching has not even started!   

3.  Come Ready to Listen and Learn

When our pastor begins to preach and open God’s Word – I must engage my brain.   For me, taking notes helps me stay focused on the preaching.  I will jot down a thought I have about something our Pastor has said; or I write down the outline from the message as he preaches it.  My husband says that when he takes notes he gets distracted and looses focus on what the Pastor is preaching.  Both of us listen intently in two different ways.  Whatever you need to do to stay focused on the message, I would challenge you to do it!  God uses His Word to speak to our heart, to convict of sin and to draw us to Himself.  Being an active listener allows us to get a lot out of the corporate worship.

4.  Talk During Church

I'm sure your reading this and saying, "What! Talk during church??!!"  Talking in church is like an unwritten rule – never to be broken in any church denomination.  It might surprise you to know that I believe you should carry on a conversation the entire time the Word of God is being preached.  (I know your shocked, right?)   You should be in a constant state of conversation with God.    Ask God if what you're hearing is for you.  The Holy Spirit uses the Word of God to speak to our hearts.  Interact with Him as He is working in your heart.  When He points out an area of your life that is not right with Him – agree with Him -  confess your sin right there in your heart during the message!  As a teenager, I remember the challenge my Youth Pastor gave to us repeatedly:  "Respond to God as soon as He speaks".  God can listen to my heart cry, my confession, and my burdens as I commune with Him  - even during the message!

5.  Be ready to Respond

While we can (and I believe should) respond to God during the message – there are times when God prompts our hearts to actively respond at the end of a message. Whether that action be kneeling down in prayer, seeking counsel from someone or making a public declaration of God's leading in your life. There are times I have responded to God during the message, and at the end of the message knew that all was settled between me and God; but there have been other times that I knew I needed to actively respond in some way at the close of the message.    Be ready and willing to respond to God however He speaks to you.  Perhaps God has revealed someone to whom you need to apologize and make things right.  RESPOND! 

Recently, God brought deep conviction to my heart of an area He had spoken to me about for years, that I, in unbelief,  had discredited as “not that big of a deal”.  Great was the conviction as I was listening to the preaching!  I knew if I left that church service without accountability I would fall back into unbelief and be defeated.  God prompted my heart to talk with Rob and leaned over and asked him if he would pray with me.  I told him how God had dealt with me.  There was a freedom in my heart as I responded to the conviction of the Holy Spirit and made things right.  

However, by Tuesday I was starting to doubt that perhaps I had made a big deal out of nothing and was being too oversensitive to the Spirit’s leading.  (I was falling back into unbelief).  In my doubt on Tuesday I asked Rob if he thought I had been foolish on Sunday by thinking God had dealt with me about such a "little" thing. My husband looked me straight in the eye and said, “God spoke to your heart on Sunday, Martie – just obey Him!”  I'm so thankful I obeyed God and asked my husband to pray with me about this matter.  Such freedom I have found in the past weeks in walking obedience to Christ and not falling back into unbelief.

Corporate Worship can be difficult when you have little ones in your home. I cannot imagine going to all of the work it takes to go to church as a family, to simply to be a spectator in a meaningless religious exercise!  No, when I go to church on Sunday I want to get all I can from the gift God has given me in corporate worship. I want to experience all that God has for me on every single Sunday morning.  These things have helped me through the years. What a blessing it has been in watching our children learn about God and worshiping together as a family. Corporate worship has been a blessing from God to me - it is an invaluable part of my life.  I trust it is in yours also.   

Thanks for stopping by.  I’m so glad you did! 


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