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It’s Worship Together

So let’s come near God with pure hearts and a confidence that comes from having faith. Let’s keep our hearts pure, our consciences free from evil, and our bodies washed with clean water.  We must hold tightly to the hope that we say is ours. After all, we can trust the one who made the agreement with us.  We should keep on encouraging each other to be thoughtful and to do helpful things.  Some people have gotten out of the habit of meeting for worship, but we must not do that. We should keep on encouraging each other, especially since you know that the day of the Lord’s coming is getting closer.Hebrews 10:22-25 (CEV)

In bold headlines, the Morning Report for August 1st of Religious News Service: “Empty Pews”, “Why fewer Americans are attending religious services.” If you a Christian in a typical church, you are seeing less on Sunday mornings (and other times also). If you are in an exceptional church, where attendance is growing, you probably have heard about declining church attendance and celebrate your experience.

The RNS report says, “Fewer adults are attending religious services in the United States, but not necessarily because they don’t believe.” To be sure, there are those who simply don’t believe. But “some express their faith in other ways, others haven’t found a church they like…. others say they don’t feel welcome.” And you won’t have any trouble finding things like this article: “Six Reasons People Aren’t Attending Your Church.”

There are certainly many different individual reasons. However, I am convinced that a major underlying cause is our failure to appreciate a basic component of the life of those who follow Jesus. We do it with a community of fellow travelers. We do it in face to face relationships. And it is not optional.

Of course there are exceptional cases such as those who have physical impairments. And I don’t mean to sound harsh or unloving. But not having a church which I like or where I feel welcome, a pastor I like, music I like, theology I agree with or a host of other reasons do not negate the fact that being Christian is a shared experience. And the primary expression of that is corporate worship. All excuses aside, New Testament Christians/followers of Jesus worship together. I can’t free-lance and call myself a New Testament follower of Jesus.

Underlying all of this is a simple spiritual principle affirmed by Jesus: “For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.” God’s presence is different when we are together. So find a gathering of fellow followers and worship with them. Jesus will meet you there.

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