“Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation, to teaching.”1 Timothy 4:13 (NIV)
Why do you go to church? While the question may seem simple enough on the surface, when you get down to the heart of the matter, you must ask yourself what role corporate worship plays in your spiritual life.
While there are some who ignore the importance of worshipping together in a church setting, Paul discusses this throughout the New Testament. In Colossians 3:16, he writes, “Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts.” A relationship with God is highly personal, but it is through interactions with other believers, fellow that we are sharpened and challenged in our walk with Christ.
In 2013, a survey of church members around the world was conducted under the direction of the General Conference Office of Archives, Statistics, and Research. The study was designed to assess the experiences and attitudes of church members regarding different aspects of their personal spiritual lives and their participation in the Seventh-day Adventist Church. One area that was researched was different elements of church attendance.
When survey respondents were asked about how worship services have impacted their spiritual life, over half (53%) responded that they had a great impact. Nearly another quarter (24%) indicated that they often had an impact. Only a small percentage (6%) shared that they had no impact at all.
Interaction with other believers is an important element of corporate worship, but it isn’t the whole reason why we attend church. When church members around the world were asked whether they go to church mainly because they enjoy seeing people they know there (i.e. for social reasons), a little less than two-thirds (61%) strongly disagreed or tended to disagree with this statement. However, over a quarter (29%) shared that they tend to agree or strongly agree.
While this is not necessarily bad, it can easily become a problem if friendships and fellow believers get in the way of true, heart-felt worship. If people become the focus of going to church, rather than the God whom we worship, then it is clear that the priority of these members is askew. If friendships and social interactions are pointing towards the cross, then those relationships are fruitful and spiritually beneficial.
When these same survey respondents were asked to respond to the statement, “Without the support of the worship service in my local church, I feel my faith might gradually fade away,” they responded strongly in favor of the importance of corporate worship. Although many respondents indicated that they felt their faith would suffer to some degree, one-third (33%) felt that their faith would suffer to a great extent if they did not attend worship services. On the the other than, over one in four (29%) indicated that they did not agree with the statement at all, meaning that their faith would not suffer at all.
It is important to incorporate worshipping together into spiritual activities. We are all part of one body (Romans 12:5), as the apostle Paul wrote. But there is another relevant metaphor in the Scriptures, which underscores the importance of meeting together. In the words of Proverbs 27:17, “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.”
Createdin collaboration with the Institute of Church Ministry.
Published by ASTR