There are many reasons to go to church each week that could fill the space of many 1,000-word blog posts. When we read Hebrews 10, Psalm 27, and Revelation 22, however, we are reminded of two in particular: attending corporate worship causes us to look around and to look forward.
Many years ago, I read an article that made a major impact on the way I think about corporate worship. The writer’s point was that we should be aware that pastoral care is occurring in the midst of worship. In the midst of the worship service, people are being put back together. A young professional terrified of the future is being comforted as he sings, “Father, I know that all my life is portioned out for me.” A mother who grew up in a dysfunctional home is learning how to train up her children in love as she watches an older mother and her daughter worship together. An addict is beginning to understand that he is not left to his own resources to find freedom. A beaten up public leader basks in the unconditional love of his brothers and sisters in Christ.
It will be in corporate worship that your perspective is realigned.
That article caught my attention, because at the time, I was ministering to the most confused, conflicted and degraded man I had ever met in my life. He had come to Christ and he was desperate to be set free from his sins and healed of his pathologies. He would come to worship late and leave early because he couldn’t bear to speak with anyone else. To be free of distractions, he would often sit in the cry room (my little church didn’t have many babies then!). He said those were the only sane moments of his week.
Something real happens when God’s people are gathered in God’s house to worship. Something happens there that cannot happen by video or audio or in your personal quiet time. The Puritan Richard Sibbes said, “Particular visible churches under visible pastors … now are God’s tabernacle.” It reminds us that we do not come to worship just for ourselves; we come for each other. Hebrews commands that we must not “give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another” (10:24).
In Psalm 27, as David looks around him, he sees reason to wait confidently for God’s deliverance: he is surrounded by the Church of God (4-6).
We also recognize in corporate worship that we are not alone (5). There is safety in numbers. Elijah was distressed until God told him that there were seven thousand in Israel who still worshiped God (1 Kg. 19:3-9). David sees others about him and finds shelter. When you come together with other people on Sunday morning, you should be reminded that you have a shelter that others in the culture envy. It is painful to watch those who have rejected God and his church grieve a tragedy all by themselves, welcome a new baby just to their own home, endure a physical trauma without the prayers of God’s people, or worry because their kids don’t have good friends. There is safety in God’s house.
In God’s house, we should experience joy (6). You will find little reason to rejoice if television, social media, or the daily news are your only diet. It will be in corporate worship that your perspective is realigned. Like David, Asaph knew that to be true. On one occasion, he was distressed that the wicked prospered while the righteous struggled. That is, he was until he entered the house of God, had his attitude realigned and realized that their feet were in slippery places; they would eventually be eternally condemned (Ps. 73:1-17).
In Revelation 22, John uses the image of an indescribably beautiful garden. That garden will be the completion of what God originally intended for the Garden of Eden. In the Garden, there was no divorce between worship and work. There was no separate temple or church, because Adam and Eve were priests in a world that was one continual worship service as they worked to unpack the glorious potential of the creation. That river brought life to a tree and sacramentally represented to Adam and Eve the human flourishing that comes from an intimate relationship with God. This was lost in the fall but will be rebuilt in the new earth, only it will not occupy a small corner of Mesopotamia but cover the whole earth.
Surely there is nothing better we can do for our souls, for our very being, than to join our brothers and sisters in worship each week.
The new heavens and new earth will be the completion of what God originally intended for his creation. When God created the world, he settled Adam and Eve in Eden as priests of a paradisal-temple that he intended to be spread to the whole world. The temple then, and now churches, are mini-Edens, places where life as God intended it and the way it will be are represented, however imperfectly. We come together as often as we can to remember what our original commission was. It was to build a garden. John gives us a picture of what the new garden will be when God puts the world back together again as he originally intended it to be. In God’s garden will be the tree of life, namely Jesus Christ, who will make us trees of life.
After a week of news about terrorist attacks, it is in worship that you joyfully remember that this world is not your home. After a week of feeling like you are the only Christian in your school, it is in worship that you joyfully realize you are not alone. After a week of criticism from a relative, it is in worship that you can joyfully hear God’s sweet words of grace to you. After a week of confusion over the future, it is in worship that you can joyfully refocus on the God who is sovereign over all your life.
Each week we bring with us all of our disappointments, failures, frustrations, and griefs and are offered a hope, joy, and salvation that conquers them all. Surely there is nothing better we can do for our souls, for our very being, than to join our brothers and sisters in worship each week.
 The article was the forerunner to William Willimon’s Worship as Pastoral Care (Nashville: Abingdon, 1982).
 Richard Sibbes, A Breathing After God (Pavlik Press, Kindle Edition, 2012), 449.
 Beale, G. K. (1999). The book of Revelation: A commentary on the Greek text. New International Greek Testament Commentary (1109–1111). Grand Rapids, MI; Carlisle, Cumbria: W.B. Eerdmans; Paternoster Press.