One weekly habit that is utterly essential to any healthy, life-giving, joy-producing Christian walk is corporate worship.
And it is all too often neglected, or taken very lightly. In fact, I do not think it is too strong to call corporate worship the single most important habit of the Christian life. We may think it’s a new temptation today to play fast and loose with corporate worship, but Hebrews 10:24-25 gives another impression: “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.
By clearly delineating a bad habit that we must not develop — “neglecting to meet together” — Hebrews is also making clear what good habit we should cultivate, and feed: meeting together. Today’s temptation to underestimate the importance of the weekly assembly is as old as the church itself. And yet, the great irony is that the habit of meeting together with Christ’s people to worship him is utterly crucial for the Christian life.
But why? What is it about corporate worship that would lead us to think so highly of this as a habit to make?
The reason corporate worship may be the single most important Christian habit, and our greatest weapon in the fight for joy, is because like no other single habit, corporate worship combines all three essential principles of God’s ongoing supply of grace for the Christian life: hearing His voice (in His Word), having His ear (in prayer), and belonging to His body (in the fellowship of the church).
Settle it now. Make it a habit. Corporate worship is too important to revisit each weekend and wrestle, Will I go this weekend, or sit this one out? If you leave it open-ended, as so many do, excuse after excuse will keep you from the storehouses of grace God loves to open in corporate worship. Over time your soul will become dry and shallow because of it. Neglecting to meet together will soon sow and nourish seeds of unbelief in your soul. Of course, unusual circumstances will arise, when you’re out of town, or at the hospital with a new baby, or something else manifestly restricting. But the sad truth is we are far too prone to give ourselves a pass on meeting together, when we really should have made it a habit ahead of time, entertaining only the rarest of exceptions.
And just to be sure, the reason to make corporate worship a habit is not to check the box on perfect attendance, and not because corporate worship alone is enough to fully power the Christian life, and not because mere attendance in worship will save your soul. This is not a call for legalistic going-through-the-motions. The hope is not just to show up and be a shell. Rather, this is a summons to harness the power of habit to rescue our souls from empty excuses that keep us from spiritual riches and increasing joy. Negligence and chronic minimizing of the importance of corporate worship reveal something unhealthy and scary in our souls. Let’s resist it with fresh resolve.
For our deep and enduring joy, there is simply no replacement for corporate worship. (DAVID MATHIS)