By Ashley Hales, iBelieve.com
There are vacation plans, Sunday brunch, holidays, family reunions, and trips to the lake, beach or mountains. It’s summer and everyone gets to play. Kids are off of school and sleep in, you read your summer novel, you meet friends for dinner, and it feels like everyone can breathe a sigh of relief from routine and busy schedules.
It’s tempting to schedule weekend getaways and forget about church. Church services will always be there, we think. It doesn’t hurt to miss a week or two. And while weekly church attendance doesn’t make you holy, or earn you points with God, it is our best hope for growth in grace.
We wouldn’t expect our bodies to stay healthy if we binged on sugar or never exercised. We can’t expect our souls to stay healthy either when we don’t feed our spirits the Word of God and experience Him in deep community.
Here are three reasons to prioritize your Sundays:
1. We need the ordinary to reorient our hearts.
We may love the spiritual “high” of going to Christian conferences, retreats, camps or mission trips as they can leave a lasting sense of God’s presence in your heart and world. But life is never lived isolated on the mountaintop. We are built for work and worship.
If we can’t connect with God through carpools, work, parenting, and making dinner, then we aren’t experiencing the abundant life God promises (John 10:10). Weekly worship participation orients our taste buds to desire God, to turn to him in the midst of traffic, and say a prayer when you’re tempted to lose it.
We may not experience life-altering moments each Sunday, but they accumulate to form a texture and commitment that grounds our faith. We need weekly worship.
2. When we worship, our hearts change.
We not only need the week-in and week-out experience of the body of Christ, we also need to worship. Every other hour in the week our attention is pulled towards fulfilling the needs of our families, friends, or ourselves. We need weekly worship to pull our attention upward, to help us desire the things God desires.
David writes in Psalm 27: “Though a host encamp against me, my heart will not fear; though war arise against me, in spite of this I shall be confident. One thing I have asked from the Lord, that I shall seek: That I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and meditate in His temple.” Worship reorients our circumstances — even if war-hungry enemies do not surround us — so that we have peace that passes understanding.
3. When we gather with God’s people, we know more of God than we do by ourselves.
Personal Bible study time, prayer, service, and meditation are important tools to connect with God. But they cannot stand in for time in corporate worship. Because “wherever two or three are gathered,” Jesus promises to be with us (Matthew 18:20). Also, in worship, we experience God’s presence as we worship together. We hear babies cry. We see the faithfulness of the elderly. We rethink what justice, mercy, love and grace look like as we hear stories from people from other parts of the world, or even other races and socio-economic brackets.
The church is called to be a body with many members (1 Corinthians 12). We each have a different part to play and part of the beauty is that we not only serve our world better together when we’re each doing our part, we also experience God more richly as we gather together.
This summer, it’s good to go on vacation, but no vacation will bring lasting satisfaction, meaning, purpose, or even true rest. That is only found as we worship God together with his people, week-in and week-out.
Ashley Hales is a writer, speaker, church planter’s wife, and mom to 4 littles in southern California. Ashley has written for places such as The Gospel Coalition, Books & Culture, and ThinkChristian and is writing her first book, Finding Holy in the Suburbs (IVP). Be sure to connect with her at her blog, Facebook, or Twitter. Subscribe to get a free booklet on how to practice sustained attention and chase beauty right where you are.