I know I’m guilty of this one. Maybe you are too.
Have you ever skipped out on adult Sunday School so you could get the office cleaned up? Or finish up making copies before Children’s Church?
Maybe your schedule looks a little like mine on a typical Sunday?
Generally, we arrive for first service (the one I’m supposed to be attending, not serving in) and I just want to see if there is anything that needs immediate attention on my desk. Then I think, “I should check and see if the Children’s Church worker needs anything.”
Then, I realize that so-and-so didn’t get a newsletter yet and so I just make one little copy real quick.
And so on…and so on…
Before I know it, I’m sneaking in the back door of the sanctuary to join my family after all the songs are over and the offering plates are already being collected.
At least I made it in time for the sermon, right?
Maybe you know what happens next.
I scan the crowd thinking about things I need to do and people I need to talk to and so I just make a little list so I can get everything out of my head and better concentrate on the message.
Of course, before my list is complete, the sermon is over, we’re standing for the last hymn, and I feel like I haven’t been in church at all.
So what’s the solution?
If you suffer from the same tendencies, here are a few ideas to get you back on the right track.
1. Arrive Early to Church
Plan to get to church at least half an hour before service begins. At least then you can get those few “last minute” things done without actually missing service. Try to enlist your spouse (or one of your kids!) as the “enforcer”, letting you know when task time is done and church time has begun.
2. Come Even Earlier
If possible, come the day before and get everything all set up. Refuse to “double check” things Sunday morning. I found it’s helpful to have a weekly checklist — you can modify it on the computer whenever something new is needed and then you can rest assured that all your bases are covered. I know many of my readers are bi-vocational or volunteers, so it makes it a little harder to schedule this type of thing, but whatever prep work you can do the day (or week) before is a step in the right direction.
3. Just Sit Down Already
Sit down. In the sanctuary. I know, it’s torture! At least for me. If there is even a potential 30 seconds before church starts, I want to run and talk to someone or grab a resource for someone. If I just planted myself in a pew and refused to move, I might actually catch the start of service (and the announcments!) for once.
Okay, I’m in Church, but it’s still not Working!
If you’ve got all your prep work completed and have actually made it church, but are still having a terrible time concentrating, here’s a few more ideas for you to try.
1. Find a New Church
No, I’m not talking about quitting your job! I’m talking about finding an alternative church service to attend. There may be Saturday night services around that you could frequent. I know in our town, there is an outreach service geared towards the 20-30 aged crowd. They meet on Saturday nights, and I’ve often thought about stopping in there.
2. Listen at Another Time
Get your sermon on CD and listen later. Put it on your Ipod/MP3 and you can listen while walking, cleaning, or working out. You can find some of the sermons I’ve enjoyed recently listen (or are hoping to listen to soon) on my Sermons Pinterest Board.
3. Dig Deep During Devotions.
I know, we’re supposed to be doing this anyway, but sometimes corners get cut because “I spend lots of time in God’s Word — preparing for my lessons!” So, carve out a time, and really strive to connect with God in a meaningful way. It could during be lesson prep. I know I had a really powerful time with God preparing for Appleseeds the other day.
When all else fails, remember what Doug Fields says in his book, Your First Two Years In Youth Ministry:
Sometimes you just need to get away. Go to a coffee shop for a day, an afternoon, an hour. Sit down with the Bible and a journal and just be with God. Sometimes it takes getting out of the house, out of the church, out of the office for a little bit to recharge and refocus our priorities.
Anyway, hope it helps! Leave a comment and let me know your solution to this problem!