There are plenty of habits, we as Christians need to be practicing, such as prayer, Bible reading and study, corporate worship, singing, sharing the gospel, and helping and loving others. Sometimes we call them spiritual disciplines; their purpose is for spiritual growth and they are to be done out of loving obedience. But is there one single habit that’s the most important?
“While I cannot commend one keystone habit that will make the difference for every believer, I do want to speak up on behalf of one weekly habit that is utterly essential to any healthy, life-giving, joy-producing Christian walk: corporate worship. And it is all too often neglected, or taken very lightly, in our day of disembodiment and in our proclivity for being noncommittal. In fact, I do not think it is too strong to call corporate worship the single most important habit of the Christian life.”
This may seem a bit surprising as the single most important habit for Christians; however, corporate worship is where we find encouragement in all the other spiritual habits vital to the Christian life. Believers are meant to be together, to learn together, worship together, to pray for each other, and encourage each other.
“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).”
Hebrews 10:24-25 reads,
“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.”
Not attending church can become a bad habit for Christians, and one that may not seem like a big deal. You may not feel like going that morning, you may be tired, and you may not feel like it’s necessary every week. Or you may have had a bad experience in the church whether with a pastor or other Christians in the church; the pain from that experience is real and unfortunate.
Sadly, not every church puts Christ first, and it reflects in the way people are treated there. I would encourage you not to write off corporate worship but to seek out another church until you find one that is biblical (everything taught is supported by Scripture), Christ-centered (everything points to Christ and His gospel), and one that encourages Christian community and growth.
As Mathis relays, “God didn’t make us to live and worship as solitary individuals.” So when believers neglect corporate worship, they are neglecting God’s design. If God’s Word expresses the importance of meeting together in worship, then we can guarantee it’s something He desires us to take part in. This is not to say of course that there are times when we will miss church for illness, travel, and unexpected circumstances. Corporate worship should be an important habit for Christians, but it shouldn’t be done in a legalistic way.
“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.”
There is grace in spiritual habits, including corporate worship. Mathis says this in his Crosswalk.com article, How to Put Yourself in the Path of God’s Grace:
“For the glory of God, the good of others, and the satisfaction of our souls, the goal of the Christian life is such Christlikeness, or godliness, or holiness rightly understood. And all our exertions of effort toward that goal are gifts of grace.”
God gives His grace freely; we are not graded on our spiritual growth. However, it is because God loves us and gives His grace freely that we should strive to obey Him in love and gratitude—desiring nothing more than the greatest gift He has already given us.
To read David Mathis' full article please visit desiringGod.org.
Additional Related Videos:
What Should I Look for in a Local Church?
Is It Possible to Love Jesus without Loving the Church?
Publication date: March 7, 2016
Liz Kanoy is an editor for Crosswalk.com.