Come Early, Be Loud, Stay Late, and Wear Orange
Are you getting the most out of your relationship with God and with His children? Many times I have heard Christians complain that they feel as if some members of their local congregation view them as outsiders. Perhaps, in many cases this is not far from the truth, but it has been my experience that the majority of the time it is only perception. It seems that all too often that those making such complaints are the ones who are perpetually five minutes late for services; who then sit in the back and rush out the door as soon as they can when church services are over. It is not surprising that they feel left out and not a part of the church family. The wise king of Israel wrote, “A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly: and there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother…” (Pro 18:24) Do you want Christian friends that are closer than family? Then seek to be a friend to your church family!
When Mack Brown became head coach of the Texas Longhorns football team in 1998, he took over a team that had been dormant for more than a decade. Texas was one of the winningest football programs in NCAA history, yet the fan base was not energized and was frustrated with mediocrity. One of the first things coach Brown did was to try and energized the fans and get them excited about Texas football once again, so he envisioned a new motto, “Come Early, Be Loud, Stay Late, and Wear Orange…” Brethren, with that motto in mind, let me suggest to you, several ways to improve your Christian fellowship:
Be at worship or Bible study every time the door is open. Be at every service of the church Sunday morning Bible class and worship, Sunday evening worship, and Wednesday evening Bible study. Don’t forget also to be there for VBS, Lectureships, Gospel Meetings and fellowship dinners… Do not willfully forsake ANY assembling of the local congregation. (Heb 10:24-25). When the elders have set a time for an assembling of the congregation – be there if you are physically able. This is part of fulfilling the command of Hebrews 13:17, “Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves…”
Be early for services. Try to show up at least 15 minutes early every time the congregation is to meet. This is a wonderful time for fellowship and an opportunity to spend some one-on-one time with fellow Christians. The preacher and the elders are usually among those who arrive early for services, along with the usher and those preparing the Lord’s Supper. Before services is a good time to get to know your elders or the preacher and good opportunity to ask questions or simply to be involved in greeting those who come later or any visitors that may arrive early. Do you want to be part of the family? Come early, peruse the tract rack, read the bulletin, greet visitors, talk to the elders or preacher, or just have a few minutes to relax before worship and get your heart and mind ready to worship. “I was glad when they said unto me, Let us go into the house of the LORD…” (Psa 122:1)
At a football game a loud and boisterous crowd is participating with the home team in the game. They do not get on the field and play the game, but they do have an impact! Crowd noise can affect the players on the field causing penalties for delay of game, false start, etc. In the worship assembly, we also must each participate with those leading in worship. When we sing out, we teach, admonish and encourage one another. (Col 3:16; Eph 5:19). When prayers are led we participate by praying alongside. When God’s Word is preached, we participate by searching the Scriptures along with the preacher. (Acts 17:11) The sound of turning pages is a great encouragement to preachers and perhaps an “Amen” once in a while would be too. When the Lord’s Supper is taken we “commune” with Our Lord and with one another. Inherent in the word “communion” is the idea of “joint-participation or fellowship.” (1 Cor 10:16-17)
Sit together. Don’t just sit in the same spot on the same pew, with the same people each time – you may get to know those around your normal pew without getting to know anyone else. I know that we are creatures of habit and that sitting in the same spot is a comfortable habit, (guilty as charged… JWM) but it may be limiting your opportunities for fellowship.
As in the case of coming early, staying late is a prime opportunity for drawing closer to our church family. It is a beautiful thing when Christians are so close with one another that they delay departing from one another as long as possible. Friendships are strengthened as we converse with one another. Joseph Swain penned these words in 1792, “How sweet, how heavenly is the sight, When those that love the Lord, In one another’s peace delight, And so fulfill His Word…!”
Burnt Orange! OK, I know that the color you wear when you are gathered together with the church has no bearing on anything at all. But the idea encompassed here is that in wearing your team’s colors you show your love and support for the team! As Christian we show our love and support for Christ and His Church in a number of ways. E.g. – In our preference for being with our fellow Christians. (Rom 12:10) – In our joint participation in worship. (1 Cor 10:16-17) – In our daily living. (Mat 5:16) – In our evangelistic efforts. (Mat 28:19-20) – In the love that we show to one another. “A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another…” (John 13:34-35) When we support and encourage one another by wearing the Lord’s “colors” we will get more out of our worship and we will strengthen our sense of “belonging” with regard to Christ and with regard to our church family!
May we each seek ways to strengthen our bonds of love with one another. Do you see your brother or sister in Christ looking lost and lonely? Reach out to them and speak a kind word and look for ways to involve them in your life. Seek them out and encourage them and you just might find you have a new friend “that sticketh closer than a brother…” (Pro 18:24)