Navigating Your Child's Education: Grades 9-12

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Corporate Worship Fuels Discipleship

Jul 24, 2019 10:00 AM

My kids were essentially sick for an entire month last winter. I cleaned up more vomit in a month than I have in a lifetime and it’s a miracle that our son didn’t end up in the hospital dehydrated. Throughout the week, my wife Sarah and I shuffled our schedules so that we could take turns being with the kids while the other went to work, but eventually the Sunday morning alarm went off.

As a pastor, Sunday is always an “on” day, so Sarah was the one who had to stay home with whichever kid was feverish, throwing up, and, by default, a national security risk. It ended up being five Sundays that Sarah was unable to attend the morning worship gathering. She continued to do personal devotions, attended our small group several times, and she listened to a few sermons online. However, she spoke of how much she missed gathering with the rest of our congregation for worship.

During this time, I was reminded how the corporate gathering of the church fuels discipleship. Many have emphasized how important it is to walk with Jesus, not just on Sundays but consistently throughout the week. I totally believe that, however, this cannot replace the priority of corporate worship with a local church community.

I ache for those who view Sunday gatherings as optional. Attending church may be determined on how one feels after a late Saturday night, a busy work week, a kid’s sport schedule, or any number of things that come up on Sunday mornings. The reason I struggle with this perspective is because it’s so foreign to the Bible and God’s design for growing in Christ.

We often think far too individualistically about our walk with Christ. God purposed that we would grow corporately with other believers. Colossians 3:16 says, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.” This verse comes in the context of how God’s people relate to each other in light of Jesus’ death and resurrection on our behalf.

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A biblical worship gathering includes fellowship with other believers, prayer, preaching of the Word, singing, and the public reading of Scripture (communion services may be separate, but these elements are also central in the life of the church). These things aren’t done for entertainment value or to fill up time, but because God uses this time to transform us and to grow our love for Jesus. Certainly, discipleship shouldn’t end with just an hour or two once a week, but even if one watches dozens of sermons, reads the Bible daily, and listens to worship music 24/7, they would still be missing the one gathering that includes all of those elements.

This should be a special concern for us as parents. I recently sat with a parent who was wrestling with what to do as his son gets older and sports schedules begin to invade Sundays. I applauded him for thinking about this before it was even an issue and encouraged him to think about the end in mind. I told him, “When our kids are through high school, our biggest desire for them is that they would love Jesus with their whole heart and love others.” If this is true, then what our kids see in our priorities is what they will likely model as they mature and grow up. If they see the church gathering as optional for us, then they will likely embrace that pattern as well. My biggest fear is that our kids would gain the whole world and yet forfeit their soul (Matthew 16:26).

The Bible even discourages believers from neglecting the corporate gathering. Hebrews 10:24-25 says, “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.” We need the church and the church needs us!

There are a dozen variables that could be included in this discussion (church size, context, structure), but my encouragement to you is to make your church gathering the default and priority of your schedule. It doesn’t mean you don’t take vacation or stay home sick. However, while our faith is personal, it’s not individual. Through the preaching of the Word, singing God’s praises, prayer, and encouraging one another, we, together, are being made into the likeness of Jesus.

Zac Hess
Written by Zac Hess

Zac Hess is the Lead Pastor at Grace Polaris Church where he has served since 2012. In his role, he teaches people how to effectively study and understand the Bible and share the gospel with others. He and his wife Sarah have four young children.