Few things frustrate pastors more than the inconsistence attendance of weekly worship by the people who call their church “home.” I grew up in a home where we rarely missed church. Now I’m a pastor, so it’s even more uncommon that I miss church. So, I may not have the most objective view point on this, but I never cease to be amazed at the reasons people are willing to miss church. Sporting events, sleep, and social gatherings are just a few of the sad reasons people skip church without a second thought.
What concerns me most is not the numbers missing from our attendance, but the blessings missing in the lives of those who make a habit of missing weekly worship in a local church. Here are six blessings we receive when we gather for worship on a weekly basis…
Yes, I know you can worship in your car, in your living room and anywhere else you choose to ascribe worth to Jesus. BUT . . . something unique happens when we worship Jesus TOGETHER. When we join with our church family and the angels of heaven and lift high the name of Jesus, God’s glory is evident in a special way. Some of the most powerful moves of God in my life have happened in a weekly worship service. I won’t begin to try and explain it, but God’s presence is uniquely displayed when we gather each week.
The Christian life is becoming increasingly lonely in our culture. It’s not popular to profess Biblical faith in Jesus anymore. That’s why it’s such good news that God hasn’t just saved us from our sin, but also TO a community. The New Testament has no category for a lone ranger Christian who is disconnected from a local church. Community should happen throughout the week, but at the very least, we need weekly connection with other followers of Christ.
One of the greatest honors I experience as a pastor is when people ask me to pray for them. Each week we pray for wisdom, healing, strength, assurance, freedom, salvation . . . I could go on and on. It doesn’t have to be a pastor, but you need people praying over you. Not just FOR you, but OVER you. People who will lay their hands on you and lift their voice over you and pray for God’s good will in your life. That can and should happen every time we gather.
Deuteronomy 8:3 says, “Man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD.” You need to be fed with the Word of God. Yes, you need to be in God’s Word everyday, but you also need to hear the Word preached! I’m thankful for technology and love the way podcasting allows us to reach more people with the message of Jesus, but when podcasts replace the weekly preaching of a local church, we have a problem! You need to sit under the faithful preaching of God’s Word or your soul will slowly starve.
You and I think some crazy things. Because we think incorrectly, we believe incorrectly, feel incorrectly, and behave incorrectly. In addition to feeding us, God’s Word also corrects us. Failing to live God’s way is dishonoring to God and dangerous for you and me. One of the most loving things God can do is correct us with His Word. A loose connection to a local church is living right on the edge of isolation. Isolation will eventually result in deterioration of your faith.
None of us knows everything. We need other people to instruct us in the areas where we are deficient. Friends, small group leaders, and pastors all serve as vehicles through which God instructs us with His Word. We need to be reminded of the gospel, instructed in its implications, and taught to live in a way that reflects God’s gracious will for our lives.
When we make a habit of skipping weekend worship, we rob ourselves and others of the blessing God intends corporate worship to be. I’m NOT saying that it is a sin to miss church for any reason. I am saying that it MAY be sin if we’re missing church for every reason. I am saying we may have mis-prioritized our lives. I am saying that attending worship one or two times a month is typically insufficient for spiritual health. Weekly worship should not be a burden, but a blessing God has shown us as His people.
Let’s work to make weekly worship a priority. Let’s gather for worship, community, prayer, feeding, correction and instruction this weekend and every weekend the Lord allows.