Sabbatical is now over, but the evaluations of the Lord’s work in my soul continue. One of the things I continue to evaluate is my family’s experience attending 8 different churches. I have been on staff at a church for over 18 consecutive years with only a couple of weeks at a time to attend another church. This was a first for me to visit all these churches and the Lord used it to teach me much. I learned things I want to bring back to our church. I was reminded why we do not do certain things in our worship service. But, I want to mention the 2 things that stuck out the most while on this “church hopping” journey:
1) Loved to hear the Word of God preached. I always enjoy hearing a good preacher faithfully preach God’s Word, but what was particularly enjoyable was to hear pastors (friends) preach God’s Word to their particular flock. It was special to hear a pastor address the people whom he deeply loves and labors week after week knowing he will give an account for them to the Lord Christ. This kind of preaching is different. This kind of preaching is a different experience from the gifted conference speaker addressing a large room full of folks he does not know and speaks with a very general application.
2) Loved to hear God’s people sing together. One of the things I love about our church is how well our people sing. They realize they are singing to God and each other and they do so with great zeal. As we attended other churches, I was reminded how much I love to hear the saints sing. I was especially mindful of this when we attended a church where the music was really loud or the people just didn’t sing out, then I missed it terribly.
Those 2 elements really stood out to me and it was a great encouragement when I experienced them, and I was genuinely sad when I didn’t. What would I have experienced if I visited your church on my Sabbatical? Would I have heard a pastor grinding away in a book of the Bible laboring to feed God’s people with the Word? Would I have heard the saints singing praise to God and encouraging one another as they sang these great truths in agreement? Or is there something about the way your services are conducted that would hinder either of these most important reasons we gather weekly?