I’ve come to truly love the “sending” of the Church. I love the opportunity to band together in unity of Spirit when we go out into our workplaces, social circles, schools, and neighborhoods as ambassadors for something greater than ourselves. I’ve grown to love experiencing faith in new and exciting ways. I’m learning more and more each day the joy that comes from intentionally living out the command to “love others” Monday through Saturday. Call it an attempt to be “missional”. Call it an effort to live “incarnationally”, whatever we call it… I love it.
And I still love the corporate gathering of Church. I love the Spirit and energy. I love the momentum. I love teaching as well as hearing the Word of God. I love times of reflection and prayer. I love taking a moment each week to intentionally recall the cross through communion. Corporate worship is one of the most powerful things I experience each week. There is something special that happens when we exalt God together. There is something special that happens when you can physically and spiritually sense the Spirit moving among a body of believers.
As much as Austin New Church is a “sent” Church, it is also a body of gathering worshipers. It’s real. It’s thick. And I love it. For those who struggle balancing the role of the sending and the gathering of the church, Psalm 48 (a chapter I just happened to be reading today) is another small reminder that there is every biblical precedent for both:
“Great is the LORD, and most worthy of praise, in the city of our God, his holy mountain.” – Psalm 48:10
“Within your temple, O God, we meditate on your unfailing love.” – Psalm 48:9
Psalm 48 is listed as a song of the “Sons of Korah”. In other passages, “the Korahites,” are described as expert warriors. More interesting, however, than the fighting Korahites are these “sons of Korah”, who were somehow connected with the service of song.
“These are they whom David set over the service of song in the house of Yahweh, after that the ark had rest. And they ministered with song before the tabernacle of the tent of meeting, until Solomon had built the house of Yahweh in Jerus” – 1 Chronicles 6:32-32
One article I found about these “sons” said,
“In this way we are introduced to David’s 3 great leaders in choral and orchestral music. Among them Heman the Korahite has at first the place of primacy, though Asaph, later, comes to the front. The events just referred to are mentioned again, more in detail, in the account of David’s bringing the ark to Jerusalem. There it is said that at the suggestion of David “the Levites appointed Heman the son of Joel,” and also Asaph and Ethan, “and with them” several others, “their brethren of the second degree” (1 Chronicles 15:17,18). The record proceeds to speak of the services of “the singers, Heman, Asaph, and Ethan,” and their associates, in the pageantry of the bringing of the ark to Jerusalem. After that, it says, Asaph had charge of the services of thanksgiving and praise before the ark in Jerusalem, while Heman and Jeduthun served in the high place at Gibeon (1 Chronicles 16:4,37,39-42). Later, the record says (1 Chronicles 25), David made an elaborate organization, under Asaph and Heman and Jeduthun, for song and instrumental music.”
Translated: Corporate worship was a big deal to David.
For years I’ve heard people say, “I don’t have to go to church to be a Christian.” In our postmodern world, it’s becoming more and more prevalent of a thought. Theologically, you can indeed receive Christ without a corporate gathering, and many have. But I would argue that the Christian life is incomplete without a time in which we come together to make God our centerpiece.
I think our problem is our posture and perspective. While the law certainly put different requirements on the gathering of God’s people, I don’t believe David saw worship as just a mandate. I think He saw it as a privilege. I think He loved it. He saw it as an opportunity to exalt the King. He made much of God, and if we want to be known as a people after the heart of God, so should we.