Last summer, I took my family through a rite of passage for all families living in America. It wasn’t something I particularly looked forward to; but it was something that I knew had to be done at some point. And if you have kids too, my guess is that at some point you’ll have to bite the bullet and go through this one day as well...WE WENT TO DISNEY WORLD!
Now, if you’ve never been there, you need to know that going to Disney World isn’t like any other vacation in the world (and you’ll know right away from the price of everything!). Disney World is appropriately named because it isn’t a resort or a destination or a vacation spot…it's a whole other world!
There is so much to do (but you have to pay for doing it) and so much to see (and you have to pay for seeing it too). There’s just so much going on that it can be very overwhelming if you’re not prepared (and did I mention the cost yet?). So during the weeks leading up to this “vacation”, I did what any Type-A, well-organized and well-prepared man would do…I CAME UP WITH A PLAN!
And it wasn’t just any plan – it was a day-by-day blueprint of how we were going to maximize our time in the "happiest place on earth". I didn’t leave any room for guesswork. I did my homework, researched all the options and came up with a plan. I took into account historical data on which days and times were most crowded and which rides had the longest lines. In the end, I put the plan in writing, got it approved by the powers that be (my two kids), and the rest is history!
How did it turn out? FANTASTIC! One of the best trips we ever took as a family. Kids had fun. Parents got to relax. Stayed relatively on budget. All in all, a success.
But believe me, the most important part of the trip was the part that took place before the trip even started. If it weren’t for the time invested beforehand in planning and preparation, the trip wouldn’t have been the same.
I know that some of my more “laid back” readers out there might take offense to this, but trust me on this one. I even made a believer out of my wife after this trip and she definitely thought I was nuts when I started this process. You can’t just show up to Disney World and figure it out when you get there. If you do that, then you’ll either a) waste time planning when you should be enjoying, or b) you’ll miss out on some stuff.
Well, let’s forget about vacations for a moment and apply the same principle to something much more important…WORSHIPING GOD (how’s that for a transition). This past Sunday, I spoke about our 3rd core value at STSA.
TRANSFORMATIONAL COMMUNAL WORSHIP. We gather to be transformed by the real Presence of God in our midst every time we meet. Liturgical prayer is not just a routine; it is life giving and real. It is the center of our life as a family.
We, the children of God, have a gold mine in front of us when we meet every Sunday. We don’t meet to hang out. We don’t meet because we are in the mood for coffee and donuts. We don’t meet because we want to be entertained. We meet because God Himself is inviting us to meet Him.
“For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them.” Matthew 18:20
When we gather together, God is present with us in a very real way. We want to meet Jesus the same way the Samaritan woman met Him by a well and her life was never the same again. We want to have communion with Jesus in the same way that the apostles had communion with Him at the Last Supper. We want our Sunday experience at church to be more than just going through the motions. Sunday mornings should be transformational and life giving to those who believe in His Name.
But that isn’t the case for most of us is it? Church is something we do out of routine. We go because we know it is the right thing to do, or we go out of habit, or we go hoping that if we show up enough times then we might look familiar at the end when God is handing out passes to heaven. But that’s about it, right?
Well, if that’s you, then I think you need to learn a lesson from my trip to Disneyworld. I sure did. I learned that nothing great comes without investment. If you want to get a lot out of something, then you must put a lot into something. That applies to all of life – your marriage, your career, your studies, your hobbies. The output is directly correlated to the investment that you put in.
So with that said, what do you invest in your Sunday morning worship? Do you prepare? If you are hoping to leave church on Sunday and say “Wow! I met with the Lord today”, then what are you doing to help make that a reality?
Just showing up won’t do it. If you want more out of something, you must put more into that something.
Discussion: What are some ways that you can invest more into your Sunday morning experience? Later this week, I’ll share some of my ideas of how we can invest more in, but for now, I’d love to hear your thoughts.