The Importance of Corporate Worship

by Kaleb Moore

Do you remember what life was like before a global shutdown? I know it wasn’t that long ago, but my memory is getting foggier and foggier. I have a tendency to romanticize the recent past and drift away from reality when it comes to remembering “what life was like.” I imagine myself really getting “dialed in” at the gym. I think I was nailing it as a husband … maybe…. I’m pretty sure I was crushing it at work, from what I can remember. Whether any of these situations are true or not, 2020 brought us the ultimate scapegoat. Nothing kills momentum like a pandemic.

We all had our adjustments to make, some more than others. My wife has taken up permanent residence in our home office. I can go in anytime I want, as long as I make an appointment. Restaurants have changed. Traveling has changed. Entertainment has changed. Shopping has changed. Even church has changed. As a worship leader, there is a drastic jump from reading faces in a full room to staring into the soulless pit of a camera lens.

We’ve all learned how to worship differently, haven’t we? There was something truly special about those first few weeks of worshiping from home. Warming up your coffee and breakfast, gathering the family around the TV or laptop, scrolling through services from other churches. There was something unifying about it, worshipping along with friends and family in other cities and states at the same time.

It was connective.

As time went on, and our eyes drifted away from our screens and toward the walls we were growing all too familiar with, we began realizing how alone we actually were. Resetting is never a bad thing, and it almost always happens on a singular level. But once we have rebooted, our souls long for what we were created for: relationships.

Now that many churches have re-opened and people are slowly easing their way back into their weekend routine, it is paramount that we, children of God, fully understand the weight and importance of corporate worship. I often hear questions/statements along the lines of:

“Why is it so important that I am IN church?”

“I’m worshipping, even if it’s from home. Isn’t that what is really important?”

“You guys provide such a great online experience; it’s honestly just easier to keep the kids home and stay put.”

So how do we pastor our people toward re-developing a heart for corporate worship? Below is a non-exhaustive list of how we can get started. Please understand; the list could truly go on and on. But this will at least get the conversation started, which is more than half the battle.

Obedience 

If we miss this point, nothing else matters. Obedience is the essential building block. We gather in corporate worship because it is what God has asked of us. And no, watching from home does not replace the act of standing shoulder to shoulder with like-minded believers. Let us not confuse our opinions with our convictions, nor our convictions with God’s commands.

Hebrews 10:25 says, “not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” So then why is this so important to God? What would inspire Him to command us to meet in person for worship? In the verse right before the one above, the writer of Hebrews says …

Accountability

“And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works.” Love and good works don’t come easily when your nature is sinful. They must be stirred up. Activated. How? By not neglecting to meet together!

Disciplines born in the shadows rarely survive. Disciplines built in the light rarely fail. When you and I worship together, we are building a rhythm of encouragement toward spiritual growth. I see you, and you see me. We lean into one another and form a bond that is difficult for the world to break. We love better, and our works are wholesome, good.

Education

Many of us are life-learners by nature. All of us are life-learners by design. Corporate worship teaches us how to humbly place ourselves under the tutelage of a Spirit-anointed minister whom God has gifted to exposit His Word. Scripture can be overwhelming, but there is freedom in recognizing that, like the Ethiopian eunuch, we need guidance when we open God’s Word.

Although we could make the argument that we can learn from our pastors by watching at home, we fall short in learning from one another. Colossians 3:16 says we should be “teaching and admonishing one another… with thankfulness in your hearts to God.” When we worship side by side, we grow in our spiritual education.

Celebration

Preconceived ideas regarding church make it easy to forget that corporate worship should be a party! Sometimes, we get distracted with “wear this” and “stand now, sit then” and “put your tithe here” and we lose sight of the fact that we are worshipping in the presence of an Almighty God. Psalm 95 says as much, and points out that it is not meant to be done alone.

Let US sing to the Lord…. Let US come into His presence…. Let US make a joyful noise to Him with songs of praise! (emphasis added)

It is difficult to find joy in celebrating alone. We were created to celebrate in …

Community

Acts 2 very clearly gives us God’s blueprint for what the church should look like post-Resurrection. Verse 42 uses the word “fellowship.” Verse 44 goes a step further and says, “And all who believed were together and had all things in common.” The “all things in common” portion of this Scripture is for another minister in another article at another time!

Nowhere in Acts 2 does it say, “And those who felt more comfortable alone worshipped from home.” God knew, before we did, that there is strength in numbers. He knew that a cord of three strands is not quickly broken. He knew that what He was asking of us was not only difficult; it was revolutionary.

Corporate worship is not an obligation, but a gift.

Having said that, I will say that yes, there is a time and place for private, intimate worship. Matthew 6 goes into detail about giving, praying, and fasting “in secret.” Just as in our earthly relationships, our quiet moments with God draw us into a deeper understanding of who He is and what He wants for us.

God understands the value in both private worship and public worship, and because of that, He calls us to both. He has something for you in the quiet, quarantined moments, and in the busy, boisterous moments. To relegate Him to only connecting on one level is robbing Him of His depth. We follow God in obedience. We hold each other accountable for our actions and lifestyles as believers. We grow spiritually while growing each other. We celebrate all that God has done and continues to do. We find common ground in our fellowship.

As we ease back into the “normalcy” of church and learn from Acts 2 that there is nothing “normal” about it, let’s take a note from the author of Hebrews in not neglecting to meet together. Remember, it’s important.

Kaleb Moore is Associate Pastor of Worship at Prestonwood Baptist Church.

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