In recent days there has been some discussion on facebook about a quote from the Christian hip hop artist Toby McKeehan, better known by his stage name TobyMac.
Some have suggested his quote as posted above implies that the only reason we attend church is to worship God. Others have opined that we are also there for fellowship. And so the discourse ensued, debating and discussing the purpose of our worship assembly.
The Bible reveals at least 4 valid reasons for attending church services.
(1) Worship Exalts God.
I would agree that our primary purpose in attending church is to focus on the object of our worship–God Almighty. The Psalmist penned, “Oh, magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt his name together” (Ps 34:3).
Jesus told the Samaritan that God is seeking true worshipers who “worship Him” (Jn 4:23-34). God is worthy of our worship because He is our Creator. He is holy. Eternal. Immutable. Omniscient. Omnipotent. Omnipresent. And present in our worship services.
(2) Worship Elevates My Spirit.
While worship is not all about me, when I come before God in true worship my spirit is raised and ennobled as I experience the presence of God and the joy of worship. David spoke regarding the joy of going to worship when he wrote, “I was glad when they said to me, “Let us go into the house of the Lord” (Ps 122:1).
How can we not experience a joyful feeling when we obey Jesus’ command to “worship God in spirit and in truth”? Worship demands both the heart and head. It engages our intellect as well as our emotions.
When worship becomes a rote, ritualistic, and routine experience something is wrong. And the first place to examine is our own heart. It is possible to go to a place where God is worshiped and not worship.
For worship to be a joy, I must see it as essential to my spiritual well being. Critical to my relationship with God. And indispensable to my Christian walk.
(3) Worship Edifies the Family of God.
Regarding worship, the Bible exhorts, “Let all things be done for edification”(1 Cor 14:26). To edify is to build up. Fortify. Reinforce. And strengthen. There is a collective benefit and blessing when we individually come together as one for a single purpose and unified focus.
Often Hebrews 10:25 is quoted to reprimand those who “forsake the assembly.” Yet, we need to be reminded of verse 24 when we do assemble. “And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works.” We come together not just to please God, or for ourselves, but to “consider one another.” For fellowship. Mutual edification. And joint participation.
The Greek word translated “stir up” means “to incite.” “To arouse.” It can be used in a bad way as inciting to anger. But here it speaks to stirring us up spiritually to love deeper and work fervently. Other versions render this word “provoke,” “spur one another on,” and “stimulate.”
As we lift our spirits in prayer, join our hearts in song, tune our attention to God’s Word, and commune together in eating the Lord’s supper, God is not only exalted, but we edify and encourage each other.
(4) Worship Enlightens Unbelievers.
While 1 Corinthians 14 is written regarding the use of miraculous, spiritual gifts in the assembly, it does offer a principle that is valid today. An unbeliever can witness our worship and be convinced and convicted that God is among us (1 Cor 14:22:25).
When non-Christians visit our assemblies and feel our love for God, our joy in worship, our encouragement of each other, and our commitment to Christ, they can be impacted in a positive way. It may be the first step toward their conversion.
Hopefully, our guests don’t see worship that is irreverent, unprepared, and unplanned. If we appear distracted, detached, and disinterested, those visiting may leave unmoved and simply move on to another church next week.
True worship serves as an outreach to the erring, a testimony to the truth, and a witness to the world.
Let us worship in a way that pleases God. Lifts our spirits. Stimulates one another. And points the sinner to the Savior.
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman