“Corporate worship” – it sounds so…business-y…so formal…so blah…
But in actuality, it is (supposed to be) life-giving, grace-bestowing, and uplifting and joyful. It is the highlight of your week. When people talk about “living for the weekend” this is what they ought to be talking about! Participating in your weekly church service should be the climax of your week. If it not, then you’re either at the wrong church or you’re just doing it wrong. If your church service is dry and bland, then find a church that is full of authentic, vibrant life. It’s too important for the health of your soul to be at a church that leaves you bored or apathetic.
However, before you ditch your local community, make absolutely sure that it’s the church that’s the problem and not you. If it’s you, then you’ll just be taking the problem with you to your next church and nothing will change. Notice that I never used the word “attend”. Church “attendance” is not where vibrant life is found. Abundant life, life to the full, that which Jesus speaks of in John 10:10, is found in “participation”. You’ve got to get involved. Take some ownership. This is YOUR community, your FAMILY in fact. Quite literally (see 2 Cor. 6:14-18, Gal. 6:10, 1 Tim. 3:15).
David Mathis in his wonderful article, Your Single Most Important Habit, which appears on John Piper’s DesiringGod.org website, writes that corporate worship is the one weekly habit which is “utterly essential to any healthy, life-giving, joy-producing Christian walk.”
He then calls us to “harness the power of habit to rescue our souls from empty excuses that keep us from spiritual riches and increasing joy.” Spiritual riches! Increasing joy! These are the fruit of regular participation in your local church community.
I suppose I do need to make a disclaimer that the church exists also as a haven and a sanctuary for the hurting soul. If you are in need of healing, this is the place to receive it. And in such case you need not worry (for the moment) about giving and serving in order to participate. Your participation for this season can be to simply receive healing and to let the other members of the community serve you. But as soon as you are able, perhaps even before you feel that you are quite able, it is essential to participate by serving. The best way to complete your season of healing is by beginning to give back and to serve others.
I firmly believe that when you find a place to use the gifts and talents that God has given you (in fact designed you for using, according to Eph. 2:10), then you will experience “life to the full.” And this is Jesus’ desire for you! (John 10:10)
If you’re not experiencing life to the full, then you need to make some changes to either your church or your church participation. Just imagine the spiritual riches and joy that awaits you as you begin to engage in this most important spiritual habit! It is good to remember that Jesus described the church as his “bride”: Jesus loved the church!