I absolutely love the large worship gathering on every Sunday with other Christians. Even when I haven’t been preaching, I still love gathering with other Christians to worship God. It’s fellowship time…fellowship time with God and with the body of Christ.
On Sundays when I gather with the Columbia Church of Christ, we enjoy good conversations in a pretty relaxed atmosphere. When our official worship time begins, we spend time in prayer, in the word of scripture, in singing songs of praise, and sharing in the Lord’s Supper together as we celebrate the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, and there is a sermon too. Our worship team not only does a great job of leading us in worship but also in planning our worship so that our time together is not just a mere routine. Our worship gathering is a very participatory event (certainly helped by our tradition of a cappella singing) and unlike many other Churches of Christ, we enjoy the blessing of both men and women serving in our worship time.
Well, as I hope you can tell, I really love the worship gathering. But… The worship gathering is far from the sum of living as a Christian. It is only about one to two hours a week which leaves a lot of time in between. I recently read a blog post that mentioned a study completed by the University of Washington which found that large megachurch worship gatherings are biologically addictive. In short, the result seems to be that people need more and more of such worship experiences and this becomes the seemingly goal of being Christian. In another blog post, a writer even mentions a church who seemingly have placed all of their energy into this worship gathering time.
Well, here’s the deal. As I hear conversation taking place about this in the social-media, I hear a lot of concern about spiritual transformation (becoming mature followers of Jesus Christ). There is a concern that some people are looking to the experience of the worship gathering (be it contemporary praise, dynamic sermons, etc…) for transformation and mistaking the euphoric high experienced in worship as a sign of that transformation. I share that concern because it ain’t gonna happen!
I want to be clear, I love the time of gathering in worship. I also believe that worship attends to both the head and heart or, that worship is both a cerebral and emotional activity done in praise of God and in the encouragement of the church. But in my experience as a preacher/minister, those Christians who are being transformed by God into the image of Christ are the one whose daily life is an act of worship (both praise and service to God). They are the ones who are regularly attending to prayer, daily feasting on God’s word, fellowshipping with other believers in their homes or at a local cafe, regularly giving of themselves to serve God and others in Christ-like self-sacrificial ways, who understand that the call to follow Jesus to the cross is the essence of being Christian. Those are the ones who have the eyes and hears to see and hear during the worship gathering time and therefore don’t complain if the sermon is too long, if there are too many praise songs or too many traditional hymns, etc…
So again, I love the large worship gathering of Christians on Sundays. I’m not saying it is the only way to gather (yes, I am aware of house churches) but I love it. Yet, I know that we must go beyond it. God wants to take us beyond it so that we can be and become the image of Christ he wants to transform us into.