Everyone knows that going to church doesn’t insure someone is different from others who don’t go to church. The reason is there really isn’t such a thing as “going to church”. “Church” is a group of people—not a building or an event. When someone “goes to church” without understanding worship, it often means very little. Christians don’t “go to church”. We gather to worship our Lord and King.
So, let’s talk about worship. In the last post we looked at individual worship—presenting ourselves as a living sacrifice to the Lord. But when most people think of worship they think of corporate worship—worship with the body of Christ. It isn’t about showing up or being in a certain place. It is about what happens when the body of Christ come together to worship our Lord. And corporate worship is as essential to spiritual health as individual worship. In fact, in scripture, when people participated in corporate worship without preparing themselves with individual worship, God told them to go away (Isaiah 1:12-17).
If we don’t worship God individually throughout the week, we aren’t ready for corporate worship.
We join the body of Christ—our family, friends, neighbors, co-workers and people we don’t even know—in worshiping our God. Successful worship requires consistency and focus.
In southern California ministers know that many have accepted our culture’s view that we shouldn’t get too carried away with “going to church”. One church of about 5000 weekly attendance recently reported that over the course of a year, 30,000 people came to their services once a month. Clearly worship isn’t a priority for many—it is seen as one more possible activity for a given weekend, often giving way to recreation, sports, sleeping in, etc. For corporate worship to be what it is intended to be, we have to be committed to worship with the body of Christ consistently.
But what if we “don’t get anything out of it”? Even the question betrays an attitude that worship is about us.
It isn’t. We come to worship God. It is HE who is supposed to get something out of worship. We “get out of worship” what we need only when we realize it isn’t about us.
So, corporate worship requires that we are actually in worship on a consistent basis—for most, at least weekly. But anyone who has been to a worship service knows we aren’t always worshiping just because we are in the service. We have all found ourselves distracted during worship, thinking about lunch instead of the Lord. So, corporate worship requires that we are not only there, but that we are actually focused on God.
When we sing praise to God, we need to be focused on God and practice praising Him (most of us aren’t very good at it).
When we pray, we need to actually be talking with God.
When we give, we need to intentionally present our offering to God as an act of worship.
When we share communion, we need to remember what the communion elements represent.
When we hear the Word taught, we need to ask God how He wants us to respond as an act of worship.
All of us have experienced distraction. So, we need to be real with the Lord and ask Him for help.
To truly worship God with the body of Christ, most of us need practice. We need to come before Him saying, “Lord, I am not very good at this, but you are so important to me that I do my best and ask your help, so I can present my life to you.”
When we do this, our focus—not just during the worship time, but throughout our week—is on God. We see things through God’s eyes. We remember God’s presence. We live as people of God.
Worship is not optional to the Christian—it is essential for health and for life.