Last week’s post attracted a lot of interest, but the topic has another level. Then, we explored why we worship—it’s the best antidote to self-centeredness. Some of my most glorious worship occurs in the mountains. Immersed in the beauty of the world that God created, away from the overpowering touch of man, my ego shrinks as I get lost in God’s transcendence. Those magnificent Sierra vistas shout out the grandeur of God.
But worship exceeds that half hour of singing at church, the hour plus of the “worship service.” Worship is life. Yet here is where we can easily miss a key aspect of worship. Honestly, parts of me would prefer a trip to the mountains instead of to the church building each week. So, what role does “gathered worship” play for the follower of Jesus?
This intrigues me, for some research reveals that more self-professed followers of Jesus are outside the corporate church than within. This may be debatable, according to Ed Stetzer in his article in Christianity Today, at http://www.christianitytoday.com/edstetzer/2013/october/state-of-american-church.html?paging=off. He suggests that the number of committed followers isn’t declining, just that some who earlier claimed to be Christians, but who had little genuine practice, have quit claiming faith. I think he’s on to something, but I’ve run into many who genuinely love God but don’t darken the doors of a church.
That raises the issue: if worship itself is central to spiritual formation, is corporate worship on a regular basis an essential part in growing deep with God? Allow me to suggest four concepts of how following Jesus involves a significant level of involvement with other followers. Obviously, unless this blog expands to a book, all we can cover are the surface issues, but I encourage you to pursue the implications either on your own or with discussions on this site or on Facebook.
First, corporate worship brings synergy to following. Look at the two pics above. An individual grape is just that. Nice, tasty, limited. But when you get a cluster or two (OK, maybe a few more) and squeeze them and do some other stuff, then you get fine wine. Just this morning, some of the greatest members of the worship team were half a dozen people, in the congregation near me, getting lost in worship, and they took me down the same path. We influence each other.
Second, it increases our connections with other members of the body. It opens us up to more accountability, support, and flat out fun. Granted, this doesn’t particularly happen “on Sunday morning,” but Sunday AM provides the initial links. We find people we can connect with outside the worship.
Third, corporate connections allow us to better carry out the mission Jesus gave of loving people, serving people, and bringing people to God. Some of our ministry is personal, but as a part of a greater body we extend the resources available. Many tasks require more than one individual, and our connection provides for that.
ourth, it’s biblical. God designed the local fellowship to furnish the foundation of faith and service. The only semi-Lone Ranger Christian in the New Testament was the Ethiopian eunuch whom Stephen brought to Christ on his way back home. But was he a Lone Ranger? A strong church in Ethiopia developed from him telling others, a church that continues to this day. If you’d like to explore this more, read the New Testament book of Ephesians.
Kick Starting the Application
Do you agree that corporate connections and worship play a significant role? If not, what troubles you the most? Why does it do so? If you do, what frustrations have you faced corporately? How responsible are you for them?
Do you worship with other believers on a consistent basis? Why or why not? If not, what keeps you from it? How can you increase both the breadth and depth of that?
Please feel free to ask any questions or contribute ideas here or on Facebook or with friends.