Sunday, July 14, 2013

Has Church Attendance Become An Idol?

'worship - christadelphian hymn book' photo (c) 2010, khrawlings - license:
The following is an excerpt from a guest post I've got up at Dreaming Beneath the Spires.

Often, the Sunday morning worship service is the Christian's high point of the week.  It's considered the most important part of the Christian life.  Church attendance is taken, because denominational headquarters like to see numbers.  A chapter in a book I recently read was about the Sunday morning worship service, as was an an article I also read recently.  This chapter and this article both had a similar feel to it--that the Sunday morning worship service is extremely important in the Christian life and most other events should not interfere with it.  One time, I even heard a sermon about how there is really no excuse for not going to church on Sunday mornings.

Here is one quotation from the book I mentioned.  I'm not listing the title/author because overall I think it is good and don't want anyone to think too negatively of it.  If you'd like to know what book it is, please contact me.   The author writes: "Though the form of worship is not the main focus, this does not mean form is unimportant.  Form matters.  There are basic elements of Christian worship that have been found useful in the development of our relationship with God and others.  Though not all Christian groups engage in all of these elements of worship, many groups use use some or all of these practices consistently in their gatherings.  We will look at each of these briefly in order to explain how they form us spiritually.  I will write the following as if I were writing to my son to explain why worship is worth it." He then goes on to list and explain these different parts of a worship service:  Greeting; Confession and Forgiveness; Creeds, commandments and the Lord's Prayer; Scripture and Sermon; Communion or the Lord's Supper; Singing; Silence; Offering Gifts; Benediction or Sending Forth.

It seems somewhat hollow to me to put so much emphasis and importance on our typical Sunday morning church service, especially when I think of the encounter between Jesus and the Samaritan woman at the well in John 4:

19 The woman said to him, "Sir, I see that you are a prophet.  20 Our ancestors worshiped on this mountain, but you say that the place where people must worship is in Jerusalem."  21 Jesus said to her, "Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem.  22 You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews.  23 But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father seeks such as these to worship him.  24 God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth."  --John 4:19-24

You can read the rest at Dreaming Beneath the Spires.


Karen said...

Hmmmm...of course I want to know the author! I had an special spiritual experience in church this morning, but I also had an equally amazing spiritually nourishing day yesterday with old friends...reminiscing, catching up, playing on the beach with our kids, eating amazing food, and being spiritually fed by each other. Its so true that be can begin to idolize anything that we deem so important - virginity before marriage, modesty, church attendance....but must find how we can honor what is important without letting it completely consume us and without harshly judging others by it.

Kelly J Youngblood said...

Yeah. We need to look at all of life together rather than compartmentalizing everything.