I am a huge football fan (of course, here in England, I have to refer to it as American football). You never know what is going to happen in a game. In football terms, “Anything can happen on any given Sunday.” But I'm not here to write about football. I’m here to write about "any given Sunday". Why is gathering together as a body of believers on Sunday so important? Because we serve a great God, and anything can happen on any given Sunday!
There is something special about Sunday morning. It is quite possibly the only time in the week the whole church gathers together. That provides a tremendous opportunity for the Spirit of God to work in the midst of His Church. Of course, many of these things can/should happen at other times and places, but there is something special about a people who commit to one another and the Lord to be together in celebration of Jesus.
Here are seven things that we can be intentional about on any given Sunday.
1. Come ready to serve on any given Sunday
God has gifted each member of the body. Your brother/sister is your opportunity to serve. When the church is gathered, there is compounded opportunity to serve others.
An indication that you may be coming for the wrong reasons is if you say, “I don’t get anything out of Sundays.” Unfortunately, in our consumer culture, we look at Sundays as a time to get, but we are called to give of ourselves for the benefit of the body (Eph 4:16).
2. Come willing to be served on any given Sunday
People often tend to fall into one of two camps. Either they are in the needy camp, where they want to be served instead of serving others, or they fall into the self-sufficient camp, where they arrogantly hide their neediness behind the cloak of service. I certainly tend towards the latter.
We are to serve and to be served. We are served well by the church gathered. If in nothing else, by those who lead from the front, but also, as the body acts as the body, others have the opportunity to serve us whether by prayer, practical helps or just being present. On Sundays, we allow others to serve us by not hiding behind the I’m OK, you’re OK mask. We are people in need of grace, helping people in need of grace.
3. Come to hear God’s prophetic word on any given Sunday
Hearing the Word of God preached is hearing God’s word applied to our lives. God speaks through the teaching of the Word. Of course, we can listen to mp3’s and radio broadcasts, but there is something particular about the expressed burden of the Lord for a particular congregation at a particular time.
When we first planted our church, my wife did children’s ministry every Sunday with the children’s class of four children (all of them were ours). She would miss the sermon every week and have to play catch up in the week.
She reflects on her engagement in fellowship on Sundays as being deficient. She could not engage with others about the implications of the sermon just preached, because she hadn’t heard it. God speaks to his church through the sermon, and you are part of that church.
4. Come to affirm our mutual faith on any given Sunday
There is something powerful about the corporate affirmation of truth. Throughout the week, many struggle as the sole Christian in the workplace or in the family. Even when there are a couple other Christians, they are still a small band.
King David said, “We used to take sweet counsel together; within God’s house we walked in the throng” (Psalm 55:14). There was a sense of identity and mission in the church gathered.
In a world where Christ is marginalized, gathering together to affirm our mutual faith equips us as we scatter back into our mission fields.
5. Come to give your best on any given Sunday
It is interesting that a lot of what happened in the early church, happened on Sundays. It was the first day of the week, a day of celebrating being a new creation (creation started on the first day of the week, Gen 1:3). They partook of communion (Acts 20:7), and they gave financially on Sunday (1 Cor 16:2). There was a sense that this day was important.
It was not another day of the week. It was the day of the week.
Many people these days want to downplay Sundays and say everyday is important. I would agree that everyday is important, and if our faith is only ever lived out actively on Sunday, that indicates a heart problem. But there is no doubt that the church throughout history had a designated day of gathered worship. This is the firstfruits of our week, and we are called to give the Lord the firstfruits (Pro 3:9).
6. Come to stir up one another’s faith on any given Sunday
Sunday is a day when the priests minister to the people. The Scriptures teach that we are a kingdom of priests (Rev 1:6). That means I am a priest to the individuals in my local church, and they are priests to me. We are called to act redemptively in one another’s lives. If we are not gathering, the author of Hebrews tells us that our faith stagnates (Heb 10:19-25).
As a pastor, I have seen a pattern, where those who are not committed to gathering together are usually those whose faith is struggling.
They do not have joy or holy passion, and its not a surprise, because these qualities are meant to be cultivated within the community. One particular grace that I have had in my life as a pastor is that I have to gather with the body on Sunday, even when I don’t want to.
Everyone has days they would rather isolate themselves, and I am no exception. However, time and again, being with my church family has strengthened me, corrected me and stirred me toward love and good works.
7. Come to love one another on any given Sunday
Remember, we are called to love one another.
It is difficult to do this while avoiding one another. Loving the congregation by joining with them is saying, “Our time together matters.” Loving the leadership of the church through attendance and actively serving is saying, “I am with you in this ministry.” We love by purposing it in our hearts to leave our spheres of comfort and enter other people’s spheres of pain. Most of all, we love Jesus by proclaiming on any given Sunday, “Here we are, a people called by your name for your glory.”
Sundays are special, not to the neglect of other days, rather to the opportunity especially afforded the Church of God as they make a point in their week to gather together in the name of Jesus. In your church, consider how any given Sunday can be an opportunity for the work of God, through His people, to be expressed to the praise of His glorious grace!