Corporate Worship Should Disciple You
A consequence (perhaps unintended) of an overly individualistic culture is a low view of the Lord's Day and a low view of the power and strategy of Lord's Day corporate worship especially as it relates to discipleship.
There is an emphasis in our hearts and in our culture on our faith being private. This privatization of faith has led to busy schedules. Workaholism that prevents us from worshipping. Recreations that prevent our worship. Family time that prevents our worship. And these things hinder us in such a way that we no longer systematically attend and worship with our local church. We believe the lie that we can worship the Lord consistently disconnected from God's church, the government He's established in His church (elders/deacons) and apart from the sacraments administered by the church.
And in our neglect we forget things.
If you want to grow in Christlikeness become a member of a local church and commit yourself to worshipping every Lord's Day as a part of the body and bride of Jesus. Discipleship begins in corporate worship. Let me say that again in case you missed it. Discipleship begins in corporate worship.
Let me explain further.
On Sundays at our local church, we have organized our service to help disciple our congregation. We are in the business of remembering. In our Sunday service, we don't just instruct people to read the Word of God, we actually read the Scripture. We do responsive readings from the Bible and invite men in the church to read the Word to the congregation from the pulpit. The Word needs to regularly wash over us.
We also instruct our congregation to be a praying congregation. But we instruct by actually praying in our service. We have several focused times of corporate prayer on Sunday. We prayer several times in our morning service and we have an extended time of corporate prayer in our evening service where anyone is invited to pray out loud.
We also talk about the importance of confessing sin and being a repenting people. A characteristic of a Christian is repentance and faith. Those are habits we do until Jesus comes back. So in order to help our members develop a habit of confession, repentance, and faith, we have a time of confession in our corporate service.
We preach through the Scripture at our local church as well. We open the Word, ask for the Holy Spirit's help and faithful men exposit God's Word to the members of the church. As we work through the Scripture, we prayerfully seek and savor who God is for us in Christ Jesus. And thus, establish a rhythm of communing with Jesus through extended time in Scripture. This practice of extended time in the Word should become a daily habit in the lives of God's people, but it begins in corporate worship.
Finally, our service culminates each week around the Lord's Table. At the Lord's table, we are reminded and thankful for, as one pastor puts it, "God's forgetfulness". In Christ, the Lord has cast our sins as far as the east is from the west (Ps. 103:12). As we take the bread and drink the wine, Christ is spiritually with us- nourishing us, preaching to us that it really is finished, our sins really are forgiven. And one day, we will enjoy this meal with our Savior, when He returns (Lk 22:16)- thereby remembering that Christ is really coming back for us.
It is Sunday that we remember. We remember who we are as God's distinct people. We remember that we are sinners turned saints only because of Christ Jesus. We remember that God poured out all His wrath on Jesus on the cross and that there is no more wrath left for us. On Sundays, we remember. God has ordained it to be so. And we remember through our habits- these spiritual habits of;
reading the word
praying to God
singing to God
confessing sin to God
being reminded through an assurance of pardon that our sins are forgiven
savoring Christ through the preaching of the Word
feasting on Christ through the sacred supper of communion
It is from Sunday corporate worship that all other godly habits follow throughout the week. Dear reader, if you are a Christian and you aren't a member of a local church, here me well: you are missing out. You are doing things out of order. Join a local church. Connect with a body of believers that take seriously God's Word and their worship of Him. You aren't meant to persevere on an island. In fact, you can't (Hebrews 3:12-14).