‘How to Walk into Church’ by Tony Payne
How to walk into church is a short book of 64 pages, big writing too making it easily read, but delivers a very powerful message of what is church , why do we do church and our role in church; the before, during and after and how church never ends. You may be thinking because I do this every Sunday at least twice and have been doing so for too many years to count so this book is not for me. Can I challenge everyone to rethink? This book is for the newcomer, the casual attender and committed regulars. After reading this book I imagine that many will never walk into church the same way again.
The obvious question that really struck me was, ‘What is church and why do we do church?’ God’s majestic purpose in Christ is to save and redeem and gather around himself peoples of every nation. If Christ is our Saviour, we become one of the great assembly of believers in heaven; through Christ we have access to the heavenly throne and are guaranteed a place in the eternal kingdom.
We are part of God’s eternal church and God calls us to gather together as his people as we wait for the time when we will meet in that great congregation. As we walk into church we are walking into a gathering that God himself has called together to save a gather his people.
So if our assembly together is a forerunner to the great assembly why do we have a lack lustre approach to church, why do we sometimes treat church as somewhere to go if we have nothing better to do, just want a lie in this Sunday morning, it’s too nice a day to sit in church, and the list goes on.
The writer goes on to suggest we do the following:
Firstly make sure we go.
Pray before going to church for those who may be wavering about coming along, pray that God will be with us and will speak to us and perhaps you may want to pray for someone in particular e.g the speaker, a friend.
Pray as you walk into church about where to sit, dare I suggest we don’t sit in our usual seat but look out for some one new so that we can welcome them or someone we have seen before but don’t know so we can get to know them better.
Consider what happens during the service – don’t be in “receiving mode only”, tune to “receiving and giving”. We hear God speaking to us through the reading: follow it in the bible, the hymns; concentrate on the words, the prayers; pray along, the message; listen well and be attentive so you can remember what was said after you head home and at least to ensure the speaker is encouraged. Worship can be thought of as a vertical encountering of God but we also need to consider the horizontal activities involved in being in the assembly of God’s people . “and let us consider how to stir one another up to love and good works not neglecting to meet together as is the habit of some but encouraging one another (Hebews 10 v24 – 25).
After church engage with others about what was preached, how often do we do that at tea and coffee time?
For the rest of the week let the message have the run of your house, think over what was said keep praising, keep thanking, keep praying, and keep reading. This will encourage our words and actions to be done in the name of the Master, Jesus.
Finally a message for those who haven’t been to church for a while. It may be that for many reasons you have stayed away. In these times Satan is whispering just stay at home. If Satan can separate you from believers at the very time you need them he is robbing you of what God has in store for you. Only by being surrounded by your spiritual family will you get answers, experience joy and receive encouragement you can’t find anywhere else.