If you asked any Christ-follower the question “what is the benefit of regularly attending a weekly corporate worship service?”” — what would be their response?
Common answers might include “it makes me feel good,” “I love the kids ministry,” or “I learn so much from our pastor’s sermons.” Often, the answer would be inward-focused, and that is okay. We are instructed in scripture to gather together regularly because it is an important part of our spiritual growth and maturity (Hebrews 10:24-25).
Coming together to worship restores us and brings healing, but have you considered how you minister to others during corporate worship, and how your ministering is changing you as well?
When we breakdown corporate worship we see two primary acts that happen each time we gather.
- We glorify God (Psalm 95, Psalm 99:5)
- We edify each other (1 Corinthians 14:26-35)
Let’s look at these two acts and how they influence each of us.
First, and foremost, we glorify God.
The Westminster Catechism was written in the mid 1600s and is a collection of questions and answers pertinent to our faith. The first question and answer is this: What is the chief end of man? The answer: to glorify God and enjoy him forever. We are created to glorify God. In all that we do, in all that we experience we should turn our thoughts to God and what he has done. Not only do we ascribe glory to Him, but he desiresfor us to enjoy his presence, his creation, and his will for our lives. Our sinful nature wants to elevate ourselves and our work above God’s. Much of our lives are spent trying to create the best possible outcome for ourselves and our families. We spend time dreaming about what we could do and, perhaps, regretting what we have done. When we come together to worship our compasses are recalibrated to point to the one that holds our lives and sustains our very being. We see our true selves as our lives are reflected through the gospel. Corporate worship helps align our hearts and minds as we hear the Word preached, confess our personal sins and the sins of our world, take communion and sing and declare the truths that are written in scripture.
Second, we edify each other.
Corporate worship is not only vertical (directed to God), it is also horizontal (about God and toward others). This can only happen in corporate gatherings where two or more are gathered (Matthew 18:20).
We see over and over in scripture that the church is instructed not to forsake the assembly. Paul continually reminds the early church to come together, to bring their individual stories and gifts, and to join with others for the sake of the gospel. Being reminded of Paul’s instructions, we are free to come to our corporate gatherings completely broken, searching and desiring for God to put us together and turn our gaze back to the path that he has set before us.
It our joy as believers to come along side each other to encourage, challenge, instruct, and lift one another. This miracle of the church happens in the smallest of acts: smiling and saying hello, setting up refreshments, singing and engaging during service. Sometimes your song is not for you, it is for the person near you.
As we come together in corporate worship, to glorify God and to edify one another, our perspectives and our hearts are transformed. It takes time, but as we are faithful in corporate worship, we begin to focus more on others and less on ourselves — our lives become secondary to the gospel. We strive to be present every time the doors are open. We desire to serve, sacrificing our time, so that others can hear the gospel and be transformed. We forget about ourselves and remember what the Lord has done for us, creating grateful hearts that are satisfied in him. As pastor and theologian Tim Keller states,
“We see that we are more sinful and flawed in ourselves than we ever dared believe, yet at the very same time we are more loved and accepted in Jesus Christ than we ever dared hope”.
Here are some simple practical ways to engage in corporate worship services at Grace.
- Be at church every week.This is simultaneously the easiest and most difficult step. Be intentional and make it a priority.
- Serve on a team.There are so many ways to jump in. Everyone can participate in helping someone else take their next step.
- Smile and interact with others. Say hello and smile at the people you pass. You never know how much it might mean to that person.
- Engage in service. Sing loud during worship, clap and shout. Actively listen during the sermon and audibly engage during this time too. Regardless of how introverted or extroverted we may be, we are social creatures, designed to be in relationship with other people. When we worship together our songs, declarations and confessions bring glory to God, edify those around us and deepen our faith.