“Dinner’s ready!”, my mom would shout throughout the house. Though we had busy schedules, with two working parents and full-throttle Silicon Valley school schedules, my family always made time to eat together. TV off, cell phones off (ok, I was in high school before cell phones were a thing). Sometimes it was a home cooked meal, other times leftovers, but my parents always made time to sit together and eat. Of course, I didn’t appreciate this until I was much older. This regular rhythm of stopping our lives to share a meal and the conversation around the table helped bond our family together. It was a means of grace. That is to say, a little sacrament – an outward sign of an invisible reality. Though I didn’t know it at the time, it showed me with tangible evidence that I had a family, they loved me, provided for me, and supported me, and it was here I could call home.
Worship with the family of God is no different. When we gather on Sunday mornings, we begin a sacred act together. We are reminding ourselves that we are part of God’s family. We are reminding each other that we are beloved children of God. Though each may feel and experience this love in varying degrees – some might be wondering if God is even there – our gathering in solidarity and love for each other is tangible evidence to even the unbeliever among us that God is alive.
There’s something powerful about God’s people worshipping together.
That is why one of the most encouraging times of my week is the first few minutes of our worship services. I love seeing the faces of people singing their hearts out to God. I know many in the pews are wrestling with the struggles of life, yet show up on Sundays to join their voice with others to boldly (or desperately) proclaim “the Lord Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress” (Psalm 46:7).
There’s something formative about God’s people worshipping together.
There’s a reason we don’t crank the volume to 11 on Sundays – the voice of the congregation, not the band or the choir, is the most important! As we sing rich lyrics, read from God’s word aloud together, or even pray in collective silence, God is using all of this to shape our hearts to love Him more. As we learn and re-learn songs together, I hope the words echo in your mind throughout the week, etching God’s promises on your heart as you remember a lyric or verse. Even more than a specific lyric, I hope you remember the feeling of being surrounded by fellow Christ-followers that sing over you God’s Good News – that Jesus is Lord and we are beloved children of God. Without the body it’s easy to forget who we are, and where we are going. The church, the body of Christ, supports us all. For more on the formative quality of worship, check out Desiring the Kingdom by James Smith.
There’s something essential about God’s people worshipping together.
In an age of live-stream sermons and online churches, it might be easy to think that church is about what we get out of it. We want to feel encouraged and inspired, and rightly so. But maybe there’s someone really struggling and seeing you there worshipping God alongside them would encourage them. Maybe you are the encourager and inspirer for another person. We rehearse this importance from Ruth 2:4 every week when we say “The Lord Be With You / And also with You.” For me, there is nothing more encouraging that reminds me that God is real than hearing a full congregation singing their hearts out to God. Whatever kind of week I had is washed away when I remember that God, through His church, is at work. We are in this together.
To fully grasp the powerful, formative, and essential nature of communal worship, let’s commit as a church to enjoy the full hour of worship together. Let’s be a church that makes this a priority, and see how the Spirit uses our commitment to strengthen the body. Plan to arrive before the service begins at 9:30a or 11a. You might find that by coming a bit early you are able to settle down and prepare to hear from God. Then we will be fully present to join our voices with others as we experience together a foretaste of Heaven. Those with children to check in, the children’s ministry check in desk is staffed by our gracious volunteers every Sunday at 9:15am, giving you plenty of time to check in children so they too can have a full hour of “Live the Adventure.”
It’s hard to begin a meal with half of the family missing. It’s hard to start our services with the sanctuary half-full. We want you to be there, not for our own sake, but for the whole church to be encouraged and energized as we begin our Sunday feast. Worshipping together is powerful, formative, and essential. Don’t miss it!
Director of Music and Worship