Why do we attend church? (Part 2)
After sharing the post asking the question, ‘Why do we attend church?’, I realized that I can’t rush off to the next question. These days, we are seeing movies having not just a sequel but also a prequel. Well, this post is more like a prequel to the first one, as I would like to go even deeper into the motivation for attending church.
So what are the fundamental reasons for attending church?
To meet with God corporately (as a group):
A very special person painted a picture in my mind of this using an analogy of an earthly father with his children. While he enjoys the company of his children individually, there is something special about when the children come together to spend time with him. Any parent reading this would understand this especially if in your family, you have the culture of sitting together every now and then and just communing – taking, eating, laughing, etc.
In the Old Testament, God would summon His people to meet with Him corporately for His own purposes and pleasure. The role of the people was to obey and appear before Him; then, He would do or say whatever He wished. Similarly, when we gather before Him in our local assemblies, He is keen to commune with us and to say and do whatever is on His heart. When we are yielded to His lordship and led by His Spirit, the “hymn, ….word of instruction, … revelation,…. tongue or ….interpretation” (1 Corinthians 14:26) would come directly from Him and not just be things we put together in the flesh because we think they would appeal to the congregation or even because we think they would minister life. For each time we gather before God corporately, He has an agenda and the best thing we could do for ourselves is to submit to His agenda so that we might get the full benefits of meeting with the Almighty God.
To offer God thanksgiving, praise and worship corporately:
When we gather together, we offer up corporate thanksgiving, praise and worship. While we can (and should) offer these individually in our daily relating with the Lord, the glory of the Lord that we can experience in corporate worship is beyond words. One experience would convince anyone of the value of corporate worship.
Paul, writing to the church at Ephesus, mentioned singing to the Lord. He wrote,
“speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit.
Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord,”
(Ephesians 5:19 NIV)
“Speak out to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs,
offering praise with voices [and instruments] and making melody
with all your heart to the Lord,”
In the atmosphere of true worship (where the worship expressed in our words and songs are a reflection of our daily lives of worship), God feels most welcome and manifests His Presence as He wills. When He ‘shows up’ (He is omnipresent but at these times when He makes His presence manifest – shows His glory), He reaches each individual where they need a touch – reassuring some, correcting others, healing, setting free. He reveals His heart and His plans to the assembly by prophecy, words of knowledge and words of wisdom – all to His glory and for our edification.
In pursuance of unity (oneness):
The will of Jesus for His body (the church) is to do all things to His glory. The purpose of the gathering is for the body in one accord or in unity to worship Him, the Head of the Church and in that community, allow the various gifts carried by various members to equip the saints to minister more effectively to Jesus. When we worship individually, we do so as one part of His body and with limited spiritual gifts. When we gather, we do so as one body in Christ and draw in our various gifts.
The unity of the brethren is so important that it was part of Jesus’ last prayer before he was taken to be crucified.
“I pray that they will all be one, just as you and I are one—as you are in me, Father, and I am in you. And may they be in us so that the world will believe you sent me. I have given them the glory you gave me, so they may be one as we are one. I am in them and you are in me. May they experience such perfect unity that the world will know that you sent me and that you love them as much as you love me.”
(John 17:21-23, AMPC)
In conclusion, when we attend church to meet with God, it influences what we do and how we do the things we do. In the end, because we have met with Him, we come away refreshed, encouraged and strengthened.
So it begins with the right motive – a desire to meet with or encounter God.