by Chris Reeves
Many attendance problems that exist in a local church come from church members who really do not enjoy assembling together with the saints to worship the Almighty God of heaven. If Christians who struggle with their attendance would raise the level of joy they have for worshipping God, they would find that attending the worship service is not a problem for them at all. I was raised by parents who taught me not only to attend, but also to enjoy worshipping God when I attend. I was taught to enjoy singing, Bible study, praying, the Lord’s supper, and contributing and I had no trouble at all attending the services.
Worship Attitude and Culture
The worship attitude of many religious people (and some brethren) is often affected by our present-day culture. We live in a “get it, and get it quick” society and many want their church service to be the same. Many want a more comfortable and convenient service. Many would rather change the worship service instead of changing their attitude. Some want to shorten the worship service or make it more entertaining. Others have even organized drive-in sermons and drive-through communion. What’s next? Time is Proportional to Interest The length of time someone spends doing something is often proportional to the level of interest he has in what he is doing. We often spend more time doing those things we are interested in doing. Do you spend a long time attending sporting events, or school functions? Do you spend a long time outdoors hunting, fishing, boating, etc.? Do you spend a long time playing video games or board games, cards, etc.? Do you spend hours watching T.V. or movies? Do you spend a long time texting, chatting online, surfing the Net, or checking your Facebook page? If you answered “Yes” to any of these questions, it is probably because you have a high level of interest in doing those things. What about the time you spend worshipping God? If you are truly interested in worshipping God and enjoy it then you will be a part of what the local church has planned for worship each week. Who do you love more, God (Matt. 22:37) or the world (1 John 2:15-17)? The answer to this question may be found in the amount of time spent with one or the other.
Improper Worship Attitudes
If you really enjoy worshipping God you will not have an improper worship attitude. One improper worship attitude is coming to a church service just to socialize. Another improper attitude is turning worship into a ritual or a routine. Some come to worship because they have an “I have to go” attitude. Others think that their worship is pleasing to God if they just go to the proper location (a “Church of Christ” building). Still others think that merely going through the “five acts of worship” is enough (without the proper attitudes to accompany the acts). Some come to worship a few times a year when they think they need a periodic “tune-up.” A faithful Christian will not have any of these improper attitudes toward worship. A faithful Christian will enjoy worshipping God with the right acts and the right attitudes (Josh. 24:14; John 4:24).
Proper Worship Attitudes
We must all approach our worship to God with a proper attitude and we can learn from the Psalmist what that attitude is. For example, we must worship God reverently and respectfully in “fear” (Pss. 5:7; 89:7). We must all come with “love” into His presence (Psa. 26:8). We must make a “joyful noise” when we sing to God and to one another (Psa. 95:1-2). We must be mindful of our own personal purity throughout the week and come offering a worship that is “holy” (Psa. 96:7- 9). We must enter into worship with “thanksgiving” for all that God has given us throughout the day (Psa. 100:4). Our worship must not be lukewarm, coming from apathy or indifference, but from a “whole heart” (Psa. 111:1). We must be “glad” to know that we can go and worship the Almighty God of the universe (Psa. 122:1). Finally, we must be regular in our worship of God “every day” and “forever and ever” (Psa. 145:1-2). When we all have these proper worship attitudes in our heart, we will solve many of the worship problems that show up in a local church. There will be no texting, talking, or passing notes during the assembly about non-worship matters. No one will attend with an “I have to go” mentality or with drudgery. There will be no hypocrites or selfish ones in attendance; no one sleeping, daydreaming, bored, or clock-watching. There will be no attendees saying after the service, “I didn’t get anything out of the songs or the sermon.” No one will dread to come. Absenteeism will be limited to those occasions that are truly “providentially hindered,” like illness. No one will take a bare minimum approach to attendance asking, “How many times do I have to come to be right with God?” or, “Nowhere in the Bible do you read about Sunday night service, Wednesday night service, or a gospel meeting.”
Joy in New Testament Worship
There is indeed joy found in worshipping God. We witness it in the New Testament church and we need to see it today in our local assemblies. There is joy among Christians in continuing “steadfastly” to hear the preaching of God’s word (Acts 2:41-42). There is joy in praying “earnestly” together for others (Acts 12:5,12). There is joy in partaking of the “cup of blessing which we bless” and the “communion of the body of Christ” because we are all unified and “one body” (1 Cor. 10:16-17). There is joy in giving a contribution because “God loves a cheerful giver” and because God will be thanked and glorified as a result of our giving (2 Cor. 9:6-15). There is joy in our singing knowing that we are “teaching and admonishing one another” with our songs and we are “singing with grace (grateful, thankful, CHR) in our hearts unto God” (Col. 3:16).
How Can You Have Joy in Worship?
Before closing, I want to discuss how you can have and maintain joy in worship. Joy over anything in life, including worship, comes when a person understands three important things. First, you must understand the value and greatness of what you are doing. When you realize how valuable and great God is to you, then you will enjoy worshipping Him. Remember, you are assembling to worship a great God, not just a man (Num. 23:19; Hos. 11:9)! Second, you must understand that joy comes from feeling good about what you are doing. When you “renew” (rebuild, rejuvenate, refresh, revitalize, restore) your feelings for God and your brethren each day, you will enjoy being in their presence (Isa. 40:31; Rom. 12:2; 2 Cor. 4:16; Eph. 4:23). Third, you must understand the positive and lasting results that will follow what you are doing. When you look ahead for the positive, spiritual results that will follow the worship service (better knowledge, changed character, saved children, etc.), you will enjoy being in the worship service with other followers (Lk. 24:52-53).
Worship in This Life Prepares You for Worship in the Next Life
Time spent worshipping G od is time well spent (Deut. 31:9-13; Josh. 8:30-35; Neh. 8:1- 18; Mark 6:34-35; Acts 2:41,46; 20:7-11). Let me encourage you to spend more time worshipping God and less time with the unimportant things of this life. There is a great joy in worshipping a great God! And, we must remember that our attitude and acts of worshipping God now on earth are preparing us for our future worship of God in heaven. Anyone who does not enjoy worshipping God now on earth will not be given the privilege of worshipping God in heaven. All who enjoy worshipping God now will be given access around the throne of God to worship, sing, and serve the Almighty God day and night forever and ever (Rev.7:15; 14:3,7; 22:3-9).
Truth Magazine 56:1 January 2012