A faithful churchgoer who also happened to love fishing was asked by his fisherman friend, “How can you go to the same church every service, week after week, month after month, year after year? It’s the same place, the same people, the same hymns. You’ve even had the same preacher for several years. Hasn’t it all gotten boring to you?”
The churchgoer answered the question with a question. He asked his friend, “You fish at the same hole a lot, don’t you?” “Yes,” answered the friend. “But the hole is never exactly the same,” said the churchgoer. “The water is constantly flowing and changing. Old water moves down the stream and new water replaces it. Church is like that. The hole is never exactly the same from one service to the next. Every time I go the Lord has something fresh for me.”
Like a fingerprint, each church service is unique. It’s a one-off collection of the specific attendees, the specific conversations, the specific fellowship, the specific songs, the specific prayer requests, the specific prayers, the specific scripture, and the specific sermon. The local news might factor into it. The national news might have some bearing upon it. What’s happening within the church itself will definitely play a role in it. The time of year will make a difference. The weather might even come into play somehow.
But one thing is constant in church services: unending diversity. No matter if the church is big or small, city or rural, contemporary or traditional, each service will always be different than any service that has ever been held there. There’s just no getting around that fact.
Actually, even if everything about one service is an exact replica of a previous service, something will still be different: how God is dealing with you at that moment in your life. If you don’t believe me, listen to a copy of a sermon that you like. Then wait two weeks and listen to it again. What you’ll find is that God uses the sermon to speak to you in different ways from one listen to the next. But it’s not the sermon that changes. It’s you! Like the waters in a stream, your life is constantly flowing as old water moves down the line and is replaced by new water.
God is always up to something new not only in your outward circumstances but also in your inner spiritual life. This is why Jesus said that if you want to follow Him, you must pick up your cross each day (Luke 9:23). Whatever else we might say about God, He refuses to be predictable. If you think that God is boring, that’s a tell-tale indicator that you aren’t walking with Him very closely. The apostles walked with Jesus every day, but I’ll guarantee you they would never have classified Him as predictable or boring.
And even though non-churchgoers might be loathe to agree, God does have something fresh and new for each attendee at each church service. He’s faithful in that way. The question is: Will we keep ourselves spiritually in tune enough with Him to catch what He is tossing us during each service? Ah, there’s the deciding factor.
So the next time you attend church, be sure to ask God to make it crystal clear to you what He wants you to get out of the service. That’s a prayer request He’ll surely be glad to answer. And if you will put His answer into action, it will make a marked difference in your life. For that matter, it will also make a marked difference in your church as God molds and shapes you into a servant who doesn’t just take from church but also contributes to it. That, you see, is the highest ideal in regards to church services, and it’s where God ultimately wants to get you.