Who comes to church?
Does that sound like a stupid question?
I mean when you stand outside of our church on the weekend and watch the cars enter the parking lot, it’s obvious, right? People are coming to church! They might be different in age, background, race or status, but they are all people!
But is that it?
The less obvious answer is that God comes to church too…in us.
Paul asks us in 1 Corinthians 3:16,
“Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s spirit dwells in you?”
So when we come together as a church, God comes with us. God is everywhere, I know. But God’s spirit lives inside us as scattered temples that gather together as a larger temple to worship as a community. Paul expands this thought in Ephesians…
…you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit. -1 Corinthians 3:16
So we are scattered temples of God through out the world. But that’s not the whole picture. While it might seem strange to us as American Christians, this isn’t written to you as an individual! This is written to all of us as the church community! We are all being built up into a big temple together with Jesus as the cornerstone.
Another crazy thought is that the goal of us coming together isn’t just to meet with God in worship. Think about it. God’s spirit lives inside of you. Because of the work of Jesus, you can meet with the spirit of God anytime and anyplace. So why would we come together? We come together to meet with other people who are also filled with God’s spirit. Gathered worship is the meeting of God’s people, filled with God’s spirit.
And this brings us back to “worship scattered”. We gather together to be built up into a holy temple of the Lord which is then scattered throughout the world during the week where we continue to worship God with our lives. As author Mike Cosper writes,
“Gathered worship then feeds scattered worship, building up and equipping worshipers to live in the power and wonder of the gospel…Likewise, scattered worship feeds gathered, as each worshiper brings his or her growth, suffering and maturing faith to the gathering.”**
Colossians 3:16-17 has this same idea…it starts with gathered worship…
Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts.
And moves to scattered worship…
And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
This is the rhythm of worship that God has designed for us. All of life is worship. We come together to encourage, learn and grow and then be sent out again to worship in the world. And we do it all, “in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. That is worship…scattered and gathered.
* This is a continuation of the blog post, “Worship Scattered”.
** Thanks to Mike Cosper for the content on “worship gathered” and “worship scattered” from Chapter 5 of his book, Rhythms of Grace. It’s an excellent read. I highly recommend it!