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by Matthew Westerholm
Some of my favorite memories are times in worship when everything just works — the surroundings are inspiring, the people are welcoming, and the sermon sends me out with a hope-filled outlook for my future.
But for every thrilling memory, I have ten memories where things didn’t work quite right, and I departed from church disappointed. Perhaps the surrounding vibe didn’t reflect my preferences. Maybe the people were unfriendly. Or perhaps the sermon didn’t leave me feeling ready to conquer the world.
Many people on Sunday drive to church in dread, with a sense that church is going to disappoint. Sure enough, they drive home freshly disappointed. They wonder if a different worship service might be more fulfilling. And fear they are simply destined to be disappointed.
Consider disappointment like a math formula: take your expectations for your morning, subtract what your morning was actually like, and the distance between those two is the disappointment you are feeling.
If you often feel Sunday-morning letdown, consider the expectations you have for your church. What do you expect from the environment? Do you expect it to be well-furnished and ornate with well-executed and culturally relevant music? Beware of ways that our consumer mindset pollutes our attitudes at church. The church is more like a dinner in, at home with family, than one out at an expensive restaurant.
What do you expect from the people at your church? Should they be extroverted, attentive, and spiritually mature? Be careful not to use yourself as the standard you use to evaluate others. As the comedian George Carlin quipped regarding motorists, “Anybody driving slower than you is an idiot, and anyone driving faster than you is a maniac.” Expecting people to be like you is a very lonely proposition.
What do you expect for your future at the church? Do you expect your participation and gifts to be recognized? Do you expect your service and leadership to lead to greater opportunities? Beware of using a church to fulfill selfish ambition rather than going to a church where God can use you however he wills…
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