How Should Someone Think about the Sunday Gathering?


And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near – Hebrews 10:24-25

The New Testament has no category for a “me and Jesus Christianity.” Telling one of the apostles “I am Christian but have no significant connection to a local church” would seem as strange to them as me telling you “I am a vegetarian.” The Christian has not only been saved for the vertical relationship with God but for the horizontal relationships with brothers and sisters. We have been saved into the church for one another.

In Hebrews 10 we are told that we should “consider” or ponder (this is an active activity not passive) how we will stir one another up and in Hebrews the focus is on this in the context of the Church gathering (the Greek word here is “episynagogue”). Therefore, the gathering of the church is not like a country club where you come to be waited on and served but instead where we come intentionally to serve and encourage others. In light of this exhortation I want to share two implications and then 9 practical ways one can come to the gathering ready to encourage and stir up others.

2 Implications:

  1. Come to the gathering as a participant and not a consumer – Your first thought when coming to the gathering should not be “how can I be benefitted today” but instead, “how can I benefit others?” If you come to the gathering merely because you like the preaching and the music you are coming as a consumer and not for the good of your brothers and sisters. Unfortunately, this prevalent across the American Church culture and often times churches play in to this rather than equipping their people to be different.
  2. Church hopping will make it impossible for you to know people well enough to know how to encourage and stir them up – If you bounce from church to church you will never really know people well enough to know how to encourage them. In addition to that, if you merely attend a service for an hour on Sunday and are not in the lives of other Christians you will not know how to do this well. My plea is that you will be active in being in each other’s lives and you will then come to the gathering intentionally thinking how can I benefit them today.

9 Practical Ways you can come to the gathering ready to build others up:

  1. Come to the gathering with this mindset of I am ready to stir it up and encourage – Who can I encourage to love and good deeds today?
  2. Pray for the gathering on your drive to the building – Pray for all the elements of the service and do this with your children so you can model this for them. Pray for the songs and singing, the pastor and his sermon, the fellowship that will happen, the childcare workers, the childcare workers, the childcare workers, and so on.
  3. Come early and stay late – We show up early for things we are excited about like ball games. I mean I arrived at Star Wars 7 an hour early in a Chewbacca Onesie. Yet, at times we roll in to the gathering of God’s people late and then leave early. If we are going to encourage believers through fellowship at our Sunday gatherings we need to show up early and stay later for the benefit of our brothers and sisters.
  4. Seek out people to greet that you don’t know – Try to find at least one person each week that you don’t know and introduce yourself to them. If you see a person sitting by themselves, go and sit with them.
  5. Seek out friends and give them a word of encouragement or pray with them for their upcoming week – how awesome would it be if your people every week had someone pray for their upcoming week?
  6. Do acts of service even when you aren’t scheduled to serve and when you are scheduled to serve show up and serve with a smile – Seek out ways to serve others as we gather together.
  7. Go sit with a family with a bunch of children and help them during the service  
  8. Sing – The NT teaches us that our signing has a horizontal component (again it is not a time for you just to be singing to Jesus imaging its just you and Him as some Music Ministers might say). We are told to encourage one another in psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Singing is a time to build up the family by preaching to one another the truths of the faith through song.
  9. Be an active listener for the preacher – It is ok to talk to the preacher during the sermon. It is ok to nod in agreement and show the preacher you are engaged in what is going on. Come to the gathering with the mindset I am going to be an active listener for the preacher today.

There are many more ways we can do this, what would you add to this list?

Sunday mornings are not just about what the pastors and leaders do. We must teach our people that what they DO on Sunday mornings has eternal ramifications. Let us consider how we will do this!

My sermon on Hebrews 10:19-25 is available here

Nate Akin is the Pastor for Disciple-Making at Imago Dei Church in Raleigh, NC.