When you think of church more than likely Sunday morning (or whenever your church meets) pops into mind. There’s no doubt, meeting together is an essential part of being a church, but just what is that weekly gathering for?
At Union View we call our weekly gathering corporate worship. Corporate points to the group aspect of what we’re doing and worship defines what we do during our gathering. We have an unashamed focus on Christians during our gathering. All of what we do–prayer, singing, teaching, giving, communion, and whatever else–is aimed at helping believers know and delight in Christ. That may sound odd to some of you, especially if you come from a tradition that views Sunday mornings as the main weekly evangelistic opportunity. Don’t get me wrong, we’re all for evangelism. In fact, we love evangelism so much that it’s the focus of almost every other hour of every other day. Furthermore, our Sunday gathering doesn’t rule out evangelism, it’s simply not the primary focus. I told our congregation recently that I prepare my sermons as if I’m going to speak mainly to Christian’s, knowing, praying, that there are going to be lost people in the room as well.
Think Hebrew 10:24. “And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” That’s a great passage that should motivate us to gather as a church, and do you see what God tells us to do? Stir up one another to love and good works and encourage each other. There’s a ‘one another’ focus here. The idea is that Christians are meeting together for teaching, encouragement, and fellowship. That’s corporate worship.
Let me give you some practical implications of viewing corporate worship this way. First, we’re not trying to put on a show that lost people will find attractive. The way we dress, the ‘modern‘ songs we sing, the way we teach, and the coffee we drink is not about connecting to the lost. Those things are a reflection of the redeemed community that is meeting to worship God. Again, don’t misunderstand what I’m saying. We love lost people. We just believe the biblical model is to take the gospel to lost people, see them come to Christ, and then bring them to the church. Second, evangelism becomes much bigger. Because corporate worship is about Christians worshiping we are forced to view our lives, rather than Sunday morning, as the main evangelistic opportunity.