Worship is more than an event, a church activity or collection of songs. As human beings it is in our spiritual DNA to worship. We were created to worship and to worship the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the God of our Lord Jesus Christ in particular. We miss out on a large part of what it means to be human when we do not worship, or when we worship wrongly, or when we worship in shallow and superficial ways (see here for example).
There is much talk in the Church today about being “purpose-driven” or “missional” or “evangelistic” or “cool” or “civic minded” or “whatever” but first and foremost the purpose of the Church (meaning you and me, we are the Church as Christians) is to glorify God. Glorifying God involves more than worship, at least worship in the corporate sense that I am discussing here, but it certainly must included it.
According to the Book of Common Prayer , “in corporate worship, we unite ourselves with others to acknowledge the holiness of God, to hear God’s Word, and to offer prayer, and to celebrate the sacraments.” Worship in this sense cannot be done alone. Yes, we can worship “privately” as it were with prayer and praise on the golf course, out in the woods, or wherever, but we cannot worship in the corporate sense by ourselves. If we fail to worship with others, we fail to worship as God intends.
Sometimes there is talk of making worship more entertaining or relevant or useful, but while there is a pinch of a point to be made from these suggestions worship is not meant in any primary sense to be entertaining or relevant or useful. The point of worship is to adjust our focus from ourselves, our joys and concerns, and to focus on the life of Almighty God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. It is to unplug from “me” and to connect with “we” while focusing on “thee.”
The regularity of corporate worship is extremely important as well. Weekly corporate worship is important not only because of its implications for the development of relationships in a congregational family, but because we as fallen human beings need to be regularly reminded of who we are as God’s people. In the Anglican tradition there is an emphasis on more frequent corporate worship, even daily worship, which some are still striving to live out today (see here).
If you aren’t worshipping in community now make a first step and starting searching for a parish home. If you aren’t worshipping weekly strive to make that commitment in your Christian life. If you are worshipping regularly, dive deeper into the act of worship itself and protect yourself from the dangers of just going through the motions.
What else is important about corporate worship?
What dimensions are missing from my comments above?