/ worship / Jeffrey A Stivason

After Church, Then What?

So, church is over, now what? Many opt for the nap and that’s fine as far as it goes. But neither the Bible nor the Confession tell us to be sluggardly.  It’s not a good thing when you are wiping your sleepy eyes as you straggle in late for the evening service! Now, of course, I’m not arguing against physical rest, but I am arguing against excess.  Well, enough of that, morning service is finished, now what? Well, let me suggest a few things.

First, let me encourage you to talk to the saints about what you heard. Over the years I have observed many conversations after church and the great majority of them are not about the sermon that was just preached. Now, I am ready to take it on the chin that this is more my fault than the congregation.  But for arguments sake, let’s say that as a culture we are not conditioned to have these holy conversations after the service. Let me suggest that it’s not too late to change. Start with an easy question like, “What did you learn from that sermon?” or “What did that message make you long for?” or “How were you convicted by hearing that sermon?”

Second, on the way home dad should propose a question arising from the sermon that will become the topic of reflection over lunch. This means that dad is engaged in active listening. He is taking notes and thinking along with the sermon. He might even run a question or two by the pastor before leaving church. This should not be a theological conundrum, but something dad wants to highlight or some practical application that might be drawn out of the sermon and extended. Dad might even ask how the worship service thematically worked together or how did the songs interface with the message?

Third, the Lord’s Day is a feast day. Plan to do something simple that everyone enjoys. Oddly enough, for a while, that meant frozen pizzas and chips for us!  But in addition to “feasting” gather around the table and have informal but meaningful discussions. Obviously, when your children are younger this is a bit harder! But after your kids get some age on them it is one of the best parts of the week. This is an opportunity to talk informally and in a relaxed way about things that matter and how they apply to life. This is not formal instruction, this is the opportunity to teach your kids how to have adult conversation about the most basic things of life.

Fourth, and I hope that this goes without saying, don’t let the week crowd into the Lord’s Day. For example, when kids are in school it is too much of a temptation to let homework encroach upon this day of rest. Resist it. Warn the kids on Friday that homework needs to be finished by Saturday night.  Be ready to die on this hill. If you are not, then you will eventually lose the day to work. 

Fifth, have a routine that will lead you back to the church building for evening worship. Before leaving the house read the text that will be preached for the evening service. And then on the way to church think together about how the pastor might develop his message. The point is to help the family begin to do some active thinking before they arrive. 

Brothers and sisters, there is nothing magical about the Lord’s Day. However, if you have kept it faithfully over the years, then you know what a delight it can be. And if you keep it joyfully, then your kids will get a sense of that. It will be infectious. They will value that one day in seven wherein they might worship and rest. What I want for my own children is for them to say of the Lord’s Day what Samuel Wilberforce (the son of William) said, “O what a blessing is Sunday, interposed between the waves of worldly business like the divine path of the Israelites through the sea.” Ah, now that is a great picture. Let’s savor the day.

Jeffrey A Stivason

Jeffrey A Stivason

Jeffrey A Stivason (Ph.D. Westminster Theological Seminary) is a pastor (Grace RPC, graceingibsonia.org) and NT professor at RPTS in Pittsburgh, PA. He is also editor at placefortruth.com.

Read More