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I recently received a copy of True Worshipers a new book by Bob Kauflin, published by Crossway. The book actually releases today. I’d encourage you to pick up a copy if you can. Bob is a pastor and songwriter, and I’ve always enjoyed his writings and his music.
In one of the chapters of True Worshipers, Bob writes about the importance of gathering together to worship in community as the body of Christ. However, to participate in the community of faith, you really have to embrace it, which might cost you something or force you to change.
Here are six ways you can embrace the benefits of community, according to Bob in True Worshipers (formatting edited for the blog):
That might mean going to bed earlier on Saturday night to make sure my heart is at peace when I arrive on Sunday morning. I’ll want to arrive before the meeting starts and stay late, knowing that there are ample opportunities for God to work on either side of every meeting. By the way, if you’re always five minutes late, it’s not when you arrive that’s the problem, but the time you leave your home.
I’ll pray that I head and encounter God through his people. I’ll pray that my heart is ready to both serve and receive from others. One pastor I know prays through his membership directory regularly. Your church may be too large to do that, but that doesn’t mean we can’t pray consistently for some members, and especially our leaders.
Some churches post the sermon text or songs for the coming Sunday in advance on their website. That gives members an opportunity to read and meditate on the passage beforehand and review the songs. But even if you don’t know what’s coming, you can prepare by singing or praying in the car on your way there, talking about what you’re looking forward to, or thinking about the people who’ll be there.
It should be clear by now that if we haven’t come to receive, we won’t have anything to give. This isn’t self-centered Christianity. It’s acknowledging that we have no resources in ourselves, and that from him, through him, and to him are all things (Rom. 11:35-36). God has strength, grace, faith, hope, and love he’s eager to impart to us through the gospel every week in the power of his Spirit. So we come with open hands and hearts.
The gathered church was never meant to be a spectator event, with a few people in the spotlight and everyone else looking on. We’re the body of Christ, being built up as each part is working properly (Eph. 4:46). More on this in the next chapter.
We’re missing the point of gathering together if we see it as an end in itself. The songs we sing, the sermons we hear, the fellowship we share are all meant to prepare us for living each day for the glory of God as true worshipers. Right after Peter highlights our identity as the people of God (1 Pet. 2:9-10), he emphasizes the effect we’re to have on our communities, workplaces, and neighborhoods:
Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul. Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation. (1 Pet 2:11-12)
Meeting together is an event to look forward to as well as preparation for the rest of the week. In a continual cycle of the church gathering, then scattering, we find the relentless grace of God empowering us to live all of life for the glory of God.
This all comes from Bob Kauflin’s book True Worshipers released today.