Thank you to everyone who submitted a question to my blog this past week. I have received several dozen questions. Some of the questions were similar. So I may not answer every individual question, but rather combine some questions. I will be looking at one or two questions each week throughout the summer.
I have been told all my life that I need to go to church every week. I would go, but I got nothing out of it. Someone told me you get out of it what you put into it. So what am I supposed to put into it, so I get something out of it? What am I supposed to get from going to church every week? – Holly
Holly, the first thing I want to say is that God does not call us to go to church. He calls us to be the Church. A big part of being the Church is attending worship with fellow believers. It is hard to be the Church if we are isolated from one another and do not gather on any consistent basis.
To go along with that, the idea of attending worship should not be about what we get out of it. Worship is about what we give. We gather to worship God. We give God the gift of our praises through song. We bring him tithes and offerings. These are ways we honor him for his amazing love and sacrifice. So we put into worship our time. We put into worship our voice. We put into worship our financial gifts. We put into worship our attention and energy. All these things are done, not to get something out of it, but to give glory to God.
Another thing, look for ways to contribute beyond simply showing up. Worship is not like a typical American consumer experience. Rather, it is the community of believers coming together with a common purpose. Each person has a role to play.
Every Sunday, our local church has ample opportunities to serve. We have people who serve as ushers and nursery workers. There are Sunday School teachers and sound techs. There are Praise Team members and Scripture readers. Ideally, it would be great if every person would find one way to serve on a Sunday morning. The life of faith is not to sit in a pew, but rather exercising our gifts and abilities with other believers for the building of the kingdom.
If you attend a church where there is not an opportunity to serve, then you might consider finding a different church. I am not an advocate of church-shopping. But if you don’t have a way to make a meaningful contribution to the ministry of said church, then I don’t believe you are where God would have you be.
Furthermore, serving does not mean we don’t get anything out of it. You may not always see the benefit of the discipline at the moment. For example, we know it is good to eat healthy food. When you choose to have a salad instead of pizza, you may not think you gained much from this choice. You may wonder what the benefit was. The salad does not taste nearly as good as the pizza. And the salad did not make you feel any better.
In our culture of immediate gratification, we look for quick fixes and immediate results. But the most beneficial things in our lives come through disciplined commitment and consistent habits. The benefit of a salad instead of the pizza does not come from making that choice one time. Instead, the benefit comes from making that consistent choice repeatedly.
In a similar fashion, it may feel more satisfying to sleep in or go to the beach on Sunday morning instead of gathering with fellow believers. But a consistent disconnection from the family of faith will leave us disconnected God. When we honor God, by consistently giving him the first hours of our week, the bond with our Lord will strengthen over time.
When we miss worship, we also miss out on the Sacrament. When Jesus gave his body and blood through the bread and the wine, he said, do this often. By faith, we receive the presence and power of God in our lives when we encounter the bread and the wine. What you may be failing to connect is that conflict with a spouse, a feeling of being overwhelmed and anxiousness, the anger and resentment that has been building towards your boss at work are the consequence of a disconnect with God. So many of our challenges difficulties in life are caused because we lack a deep and meaningful relationship with the Lord.
When we miss worship, we also miss an opportunity to pray with others. Maybe the illness or pain I am suffering is because I have not called upon the elders of the church to anoint me with oil and pray with me. I know a lot of people who could have saved a lot of money along with trips to the doctor if they had seen prayer as their first option rather than their last resort. Certainly, you can pray on our own. But so many promises of God connected to prayer involve the community.
Finally, if you are going to worship because you “got to,” then you are going for all the wrong reasons. Worship is a “get to” experience. We should not approach worship as an obligation to “please” God so that he will be generous and gracious to us. Worship is a response to what God has already done for us. When our faith is placed in Jesus as Savior, the desire to worship with others is the natural result. And if you do not have the desire to worship, then consider if it is Jesus in whom your faith is placed. We all worship something, the question is not if we worship, but what it is that we worship.
So why do you believe it is important to attend worship on Sunday morning with fellow believers? Please share in the comments section.