What Should Orthodox Christians Do Before Coming to Church?

Pray in your cell before going to church. (St. Anthony the Great, 4th century)

While going to church, imagine that you are going to the home of the Heavenly King, where you must stand with fear and joy just like in heaven before the King… (St. Tikhon of Zadonsk, 1724-1783)

When you go to a church and come back from the church, read “Axion Estin”. And when you come to a church, make three bows. (St. Ambrose of Optina, 1812-1891)

You need to come to a church before the ringing of the church bell begins, so that you hear it when are standing in the church. Why so? Because the Mother of God enters the church at this moment. (St. Barphonosius of Optina, 1845-1913)

Try to come a little earlier before the beginning of the service and do not leave the church before the end of it. Otherwise, you will not receive God’s grace and your heart will remain as cold as it is. During the church readings try not to miss anything that is read or sung. Otherwise, you will be too scattered. (St. Joseph of Optina, 1837-1911)

Those people, who go to church on a full stomach, consciously take an unnecessary burden and weaken their hearts for prayer, because thus they do not let the holy thoughts and feelings reach their hearts.  

When you enter a church, say: I bow to You, my Lord, Who dwell in this church. (St. John of Kronstadt, 1829 – 1908)

You begin to prepare for church when you wake up in the morning and know: I am going for a meeting with the Lord. You are preparing a bit differently, you are dressing a bit differently, you try to chatter less, so that nothing unworthy can scatter this depth of the moment at which you find yourself in a church. You are serious while going there as well: you feel as if you are going to meet someone very special or someone who you really love – the most precious person in your life.

According to the church rules, one should read prayers while going to church.

When you reach the church, you stop for a moment: this is the house of God, this is His abode. You make a sign of the cross not just before the icon above the entrance, but before the whole church: this is the place where God dwells. And when you cross the threshold, you stop again and stand still for a moment. Then a person makes a sign of the cross: in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. I came there in the name of God, and I will not bring anything with me which is unworthy of Him. It would be even better to say that anything unworthy must be purified there, washed away with repentance and renewal of the soul.

Perhaps, during the whole week we lived in an unworthy state. When we come to church on Sunday, we must make the sign of a cross, stop in the church and say like the publican: Lord, be merciful to me, a sinner! I have come to the place where Your power can renovate me, where Your love can hold me, where You can teach me with Your word and purify me with Your act. Even a priest should say so when he comes there: Lord, be merciful to me, a sinner! I am entering the place, which is burning with a flame. I am going to pronounce the words, which are so holy that they can burn my mouth and light up my soul. Alternatively, they can turn my soul to ash, if  I pronounce them unworthily, with deciet and hypocrisy. I will meet Christ in this church, I will come to an icon and kiss it. How will I do this? Will I do this just like Judas did, when he was going to betray Christ? Or like a child, who kisses his mother? Or like a person, who kisses the hand of the person with great reverence and whom he respects most in the world? (Metropolitan Anthony of Sourozh, 1914 – 2003)

Source: http://www.ioann.ru/parts/cerkov/kak-gotovitsya-k-poseshheniyu-xrama