Yesterday, I taught my final Christian Worldview class to local homeschoolers. This last class was a consideration of “last things.” We talked about how we live in an interim period in which Christ has accomplished our redemption but has not yet fully consummated his kingdom. However, this does not mean we don’t see aspects of his kingdom in the here and now.
I asked the students, “Where do we see Christ’s kingdom most clearly manifested in this life?” I said, “Consider all the activities you engage in during the week. Can you think of one where Jesus’ kingdom is clearly displayed?” The students pondered for a moment before one exclaimed, “Church!” “Bingo!” I said.
Every week, on the day appointed by God, everyone who belongs to Christ makes their way to church to worship Christ with everyone else who belongs to Christ. In obedience to him, we gather with other believers from our community (Hebrews 10:24). Gathering to God’s throne with us are the elect angels and all our loved ones who have died in the Lord (Revelation 5:11-12). Altogether, we gather at Mount Zion to hear from God and receive his grace through Christ, imparted by the Holy Spirit (Hebrews 12:28-29). Truly, it is a foretaste of the glories to come.
However, most Southern Evangelicals have lost their appetite for corporate worship. 56% agree that “worshiping alone or with family is a valid replacement for regularly attending church.” If you’re curious, you might wonder what effect COVID had on that number. In 2018, 43% agreed with that same statement, and 46% in 2020. The number grew by 10% from 2020 to 2022.
Want to know what happened? When COVID hit, churches called off worship for long periods and taught their congregations worship was unnecessary; that earthly treasure is more valuable than heavenly. When they did open, many discipled their people to believe online worship is the same as in-person worship. It isn’t.
On top of this, we live in a multi-generation era of men who do not lead their families spiritually. If the family even thinks about attending worship, it’s because of mom. Mom prays and mom reads the Bible while dad sleeps in his chair.
Next year will be unique. There will be 53, not 52, Sundays. In 2023, both January 1 and December 31 will be on a Sunday. I’m calling it the Year of the Christian Sabbath. For those churches that faithfully host evening worship, it means we’ll have 106 opportunities to gather with our people and hear from our Lord! It’s an opportunity for everyone who’s treated the Lord’s worship as life’s side dish to repent and recognize it as the main course.
Every Sunday, morning and evening, Christ especially extends grace to you in corporate worship. Jesus doesn’t need your worship. He calls you to come because you need him. He alone offers you living water. He alone is the bread of life. You need his grace, don’t you? You need to be fed by him, don’t you? Then go to church.