A well known Christian author, Donald Miller, recently published a blog post that caused quite a stir. He shared his personal experiences with corporate worship. He stated that he doesn’t go to church very often. He doesn’t find intimacy with God through the “traditional church model”.
Now, I have to tell you that his post caused me to think. I like that.
A writer wrote something. His words prompted me to think. In this case, to think about worship. As I began to think about how I would respond to him, and how I would enjoy the conversation with him, the comments began rolling in. Wow. You would think he had renounced his Christian faith. While there were many comments in support of him, and many people were civil and attempting to have a conversation on the role of corporate worship, far too many people took this opportunity to rant and write hateful things. While I don’t agree with this author, his writing did push me to look more deeply into my reasons for attending church.
Growing up CRC it was an expectation to attend church. Sunday morning. Sunday evening. Good Friday. Christmas. New Year’s Day or Eve. Ascension Day. National Day of Prayer.
If there was a service, we attended. Why?
Why did we always HAVE TO go to church? I didn’t “get it” when I was a child. But, I grew to understand it. Over the years I’ve become more lax in my “strict” attendance. Occasionally we don’t attend the evening service. What about all of the “extra” services? Hmm. Not so much.
Does God call us to be at every single service?
I’m not sure. But let’s take a look at what the CRC as a denomination states about “Why” worship is important in the Position Statements that have been agreed upon by Synod.
The following description serves as the common biblical basis for Christian worship: Worship is an ascription of worth, adoration, and praise to God; includes confession of sin and surrender to the true God; is a God-initiated engagement of God and the worshiper, as well as a corporate engagement among the worshipers; strengthens and is strengthened by the Christian community and its shared memory; and reflects the mighty redemptive acts of God.
When God’s people worship with pure hearts and in authentic community, effective evangelism is a natural result. The basic pattern for Christian worship includes gathering as a covenant community, proclamation of the Word, celebration of the Lord’s Supper, and going to serve in the world. Authentic worship has an intrinsically sacramental character and is enriched by the diverse backgrounds of participating believers.
(Italics mine. Taken directly from the CRCNA website)
So, the CRC believes that worship is “corporate engagement among worshipers” and that we gather “as a covenant community”.
Community. I love this word. Community holds us up. Community encourages us. Community worships.
In a worship service the church community comes together for worship initiated by God for the worship of God. We are called together to worship God. This is what I believe the practice of corporate worship is all about. Do I enjoy every service? No. (Confession: I almost walked out of a service once.) Am I attending a worship service for my own benefit? I hope not. We are called together to worship God. It isn’t for me. It isn’t about me. Worship is about Him. I certainly receive many blessings from worship, but the ultimate reason for worship is to praise and honor our Lord God.
Articles 35 & 36 in “Our World Belongs to God: A Contemporary Testimony”, point out that
The church is the fellowship of those who confess Jesus as Lord.” (35), and “Our new life in Christ is celebrated and nourished in the fellowship of congregations, where we praise God’s name, hear the Word proclaimed, learn God’s ways, confess our sins, offer our prayers and gifts, and celebrate the sacraments. (36)
It seems pretty clear then as “God’s New People” we are called to celebrate, worship and fellowship TOGETHER. Not alone. Together.
Why do you go to church? What is your practice/habit? I’d love to hear from you in the comments.
To read the original blog post by Donald Miller, and his follow-up, go here: I Don’t Worship God by Singing. I Connect With Him Elsewhere.