What are you most excited about when you come to church? What really moves you on Sunday mornings?
There are a lot of potential answers to that question. Maybe the music is enough to get you out of bed. The old hymns have always resonated deeply with you, or the church’s worship band is consistently finding creative and compelling ways to put enduring truth to a new tune.
Or it could be a dynamic, engaging preacher, someone you could listen to for hours and hours at a time. Maybe he has an unending library of personal stories and illustrations that connect with you over and over again, or he’s a genuinely friendly, caring man that spends lots of intentional time loving his family and flock.
It might be the fellowship. There are few things better than worshiping with your family and friends. They know you best, so you can be yourself. They care about you, so you can trust them. For many, the biggest draw is spending time with other believers you know and love.
The Deepest Well for Worship
But how much do we expect from the Bible when we come to church?
Even in corporate worship, with sermons every week, we can too easily wander from our wonder at all that we have in Scripture. What if we came to church hungry, even starving, for the word of God (Matthew 4:4)? What if we expected God to inspire, change, and commission us in the sacred moments we spend together over these pages? What if we thought we’d become more like him — undeserving sinners wading into the divine nature — when his words wash over us as the Bible is read and explained (2 Peter 1:3–4)?
David treasured God’s words that way (Psalm 19:7–10):
The law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul;
the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple;
the precepts of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart;
the commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes;
the fear of the LORD is clean, enduring forever;
the rules of the LORD are true, and righteous altogether.
More to be desired are they than gold, even much fine gold;
sweeter also than honey and drippings of the honeycomb.
If we lose our awe at what the Bible is, and the privilege and pleasure we have to hear it heralded week after week, we lose the clarifying and sustaining power under everything else we love at church. We lose the deepest well for our worship. These paragraphs, sentences, individual words and phrases are breathed out by the living God (2 Timothy 3:16), perfectly chosen and empowered to give life, preserve faith, establish hope, and heighten our eternal joy (Hebrews 4:12).
Don’t Miss the Main Course
There’s a lot more to our worship than the word, but it is the main course. When the word remains central, worship in all of its forms will flourish. The substance of our singing will be shaped and filled with the authoritative voice of God. Pastors will be freed from the unending need to always impress and entertain with new ideas, and will rest in the old, living, and relevant message of the Scriptures. Our relationships will have a rock — the revelation of God — on which to stand and from which to love, counsel, and grow. Our ministries will take on God’s wisdom, urgency, and heart. Prayers will be made with a beautiful, strong confidence in the Bible’s specific promises.
But remove the word, and the whole experience of worship will eventually evolve from full buffet to light hors d’oeuvres — satisfying for the moment, but leaving us wanting.
So when we gather for worship this weekend, let’s make the most of the most important thing. What did God say to us this morning? God has spoken, and he will be speaking again through readers and preachers all over the world as they faithful expound his word. Will we hear him? Will we wait with expectation, hanging on every living, active, and effective word? Let’s listen carefully, and look for God to move us.
(By Marshall Segal, Desiring God ministries)