On October 8, Ken was talking about the importance of worshiping with others. This corporate gathering is so important. It’s foundational to who we are as followers of Jesus Christ. True worship flows from the heart and recognizes and responds to the magnificence of Christ. This is because of our understanding of the grace found solely in the gospel.
In Acts 2:42, we read about the early church and how they devoted themselves to the practice of worship. They gathered together on a regular basis, but the word “devoted” means it was a result of a passion, heart, and desire to worship. Sometimes WE do it only out of habit, but they were joyful because they gathered together to experience worship. They went to experience GOD in worship. They had a humble attitude. They put other people before themselves, they did not complain about the music style, or demand their personal preferences. They did not criticize the pastor for the sermon being too long, and we have no record of someone being upset to find someone in our usual seat. They were humble before God and before others.
And this early church found favor with all the people. The surrounding community was attracted to what was happening in this community of faith. The lives of the early believers seem to point others toward God rather than distracting them from genuine Christianity.
When we read Acts 2:42-47, this biblical perspective of corporate worship is so different from how it is practiced in many churches today. We should not go to church to get our self-centered needs met. Instead we go (we gather together) to worship the one true God and we serve alongside other believers.
I believe that most of us would agree that attending church is very important, but how do we measure regular attendance in society today? It’s moved from four times a month, to about one or two times a month. Think of all the things that go on in our culture and society that draw us away from church: sports leagues, sporting events, vacation homes, a day at the lake, staying up too late on Saturday.
For families who are committed to church attendance, no one in the home asks whether we’re going to church on Sunday morning. It’s something that is expected. Children know that we are church goers. There’s no debate about whether we feel like going today or not. Eventually our children will begin to understand the importance of getting together for corporate worship, probably when we demonstrate how important a gathering for corporate worship is in our own lives.
Rainer, in his book, talks about the shift to the Preference Driven Church. Somewhere in the 20th century, believers, particularly in America, shifted from an attitude of self-sacrificing service to God, and worship of God, to a consumer-focused, self-serving attitude. It has been a terrible shift. He says one thing with certainty: the focus of too many of our church worship services are not on God. We are focused on ourselves, our own needs, and our own preferences.
I have long been an advocate of challenging members to arrive on Sunday to, “look for a place to serve before you look for a place to sit, and soak.”
I hope that each family has a copy of this book that we have been giving out. Rainer challenges us to think about our preferences, about the music style, preaching style, the security of having my own pew, then put THAT attitude behind us for the Kingdom’s sake.
When did worship move from giving God the adoration he deserves, to worship being all about me, myself, and I? It has become about my needs, my preferences, and my wants. It’s hard to find God in this type of scenario. When it’s all about us, then it’s not at all about God.
Rainer talks about the needed commitment to make “the importance of worship” a top priority:
- Will you resolve to faithfully attend worship services?
- Will you pray before attending worship services?
- Will you pray for an attitude of expectation? That God will move today.
- Will you pray as you enter the sanctuary?
- Will you pray to be a worshiper instead of a judge.
Let’s embrace this commitment: I will gather for worship. It’s time to stop making worship attendance an optional activity.
So, now what? Reflect on and discuss the declining commitment to worship attendance over the past few decades. Is this evident at King’s Grant? In your own family?
Why do you think this optional worship trend has emerged?
What are some actions you and others can take to develop greater commitment to corporate worship?
How could you encourage others to have a greater commitment to church attendance and participation?
Thanks for taking the time to watch this video. God bless you all and you make a lasting impact on our community.