Early, Eager, And Expectant
Every Sunday, all over the world, churches gather in one place to worship God. This has been the practice of the New Testament church for the past 2,000 years and it will continue to be the practice of the church until Jesus comes back.
If you visit our church on a Sunday morning, you should expect to do five thing: sing the Word, read the Word, pray the Word, preach the Word, and see the Word (through baptism and the Lord’s supper). And while so much can be said about what we do when we gather, I want to focus on how we should approach our gathering.
So how should we come to the corporate gathering on Sunday? There’s always exceptions to the rule, but in general, we should come early, eager, and expectant. Let’s consider all three.
First, we should come early. Coming early is one way you communicate to a watching world (and our own hearts!) that God and His people are a priority in our lives. When you show up early, you have more opportunity to encourage other members and visitors. When you show up early, you are communicating that gathering with the saints is not the activity getting in the way of your otherwise packed Sunday. You are communicating that there is one priority for the gift of the Lord’s day— spending it with God and His people. So come early.
Secondly, we should come eager. We should be excited about showing up on Sunday. That doesn’t mean that we should pretend that everything's going fine. You can bring your miseries and bring your grief. But you come still excited because God uses corporate worship to change the subject from you and your troubles to Jesus and His fullness. You could be at rock bottom in life, but coming to corporate worship eager isn’t about pretending to feel happy when you’re not. We come eager because the only real comfort for our soul is to see the glory of Christ on display among the saints. We come eager because it tells the truth about Jesus, that He was eager to endure the cross for the joy set before Him. So come eager.
Third, we should come expectant. What do you expect on a Sunday morning? If a Sunday morning is just another human event, then we should come with reasonable and manageable expectations. But if a Sunday morning is a unique time when God’s people encounter the living God through His Word, then we should come expecting that God can and will do what only God can do! God is not stingy, and He wants to convert the lost. He is a good Father, and He wants to comfort His children. He’s a mighty God, and He wants to change us as we behold His Son in the Word. So when we come expectant, we tell the truth about the character of God: that He is mighty and desires to bless His people. So come expectant.
Building A Culture
Coming to church early, eager, and expectant is not about checking off boxes. The goal is not to get everyone slavishly obeying the “rule.” The goal is to build a culture that encourages joy in God and delight in one another. The goal is to build a gospel culture that is compelling, and where Christianity is not a “job” but joy and life. Don’t you want to be a part of a church where delight in Christ, love for the saints, and a desire to display God’s character is contagious and impossible to ignore? Well, that’s what the Lord gives you and I an opportunity to cultivate and communicate when we come early, eager, and expectant.