“Give a bonus to leaders who do a good job, especially the ones who work hard at preaching and teaching.” I Timothy 5:17 (The Message)

I’ve often railed about our consumer mentality as church-goers, the “me, me, me” spirit of people coming to a gathering to have their needs met. To be spiritually entertained. There are times when you simply need the gathering to prop you up, to realign your spirit back into the rhythm of God. However, there are times when the gathering needs you. So how can participation in the gathering be your act of service?

-Prepare yourself for worship before you get there. Pray in the car on the way to church. Listen to whatever music pumps you up. Enjoy the silence in order to meditate on the things of God. I realize this is often easier said than done: I have two children.

-Regular attendance. Nothing deflates a speaker faster than speaking to empty chairs. Not that they write sermons directed at folks, but pastors talk to their people through the week. They know the concerns of their flock, what they are going through, what might speak to them. Only to see them not there come Sunday morning.

-Participate in the service. Pray. Pay attention. Communion. Being a member of the “bride of Christ” means participating in the worship (the purpose of the gathering). Reading the Scriptures, hearing them preached, reciting the creeds and confessions, and remembering our baptism with one another.

How might this spirit impact a community? To realize that you aren’t there for a service, but to serve. Not there to leech from others—even if it’s just a matter of being a pew potato/there to be “fed”—but rather to contribute.

You aren’t going to feel moved every week. The sermon might not be clicking, the music might have left you flat, the mood of the congregation (or more likely you) might seem off. You might check out of the gathering, go have a smoke, go hang out, find a quiet spot just to be. That’s fine. However, sometimes, you ought to consider staying in it, if only to encourage the pastor. Lord knows he’s heard enough of your complaints.