The Heartbeat of Worship

And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ

Ephesians 4:11-12

My apologies for being out of touch once again. When it comes to running places, this is the most hectic season of my life to date. My older daughter is on the homecoming court for her school, and this is HOCO week. Such events are brand-new to this recovering introvert who never so much as attended a high school dance.

And let me tell you, when you live 30 minutes from the school and 30 minutes in the opposite direction from a collection of stores with the appropriate semi-formal gear, it is no joke getting this craziness wrapped up. Especially when one of your kiddos is so small that only 1 in 100 dresses fit her, and only about a third of those meet dress code…

But you’re not here to read about the crazy. Let’s talk about the Word, shall we?

Our pastor once made mention of the weekly worship services as a sort of pulse of Christianity, and the idea has resonated with me since. It’s a beautiful picture, really – the gathering together of believers to worship and encourage one another followed by the sending out into the various arteries of the world until we are once more drawn together again and the cycle repeats.

It all came together in a profound way for me this past Sunday as the pastor spoke about our identity in Christ (an excellent message, by the way, for anyone who’s struggling with identity issues of any kind. You can access it here.)

Just as there’s a purpose to our physical heartbeat, there’s a Divine purpose for this rhythmic flux of gathering in and sending out.

The gathering of the Church is meant as a time of worship; of refreshment, equipping, burden sharing, repentance – you name it. All that “churchy” stuff is supposed to go on during our meetings.

But primarily, the worship services are for just that – worship.

It’s where the Body of Christ comes together to worship the Lord who set them free. We sing. We serve each other. We hear the Word and exposition on the Word and we internalize it. We share one another’s burdens. We confess our sin to each other and pray for each other. Or that’s how it should look, anyway.

All of these things – song, teaching, confessing, praying – serve a purpose. This is where we are equipped to do the work God sends us out into the world to do. We learn and grow in Him. We cast our burdens on him.

We leave behind our junk – confessed sin, burdens for others, sorrow, shame. We pick up a fresh insight from the Word of God, a new sense of purpose or direction, or some encouragement to strengthen us. This we take out into the world around us to share.

It’s the pulse of Christianity. The heartbeat of the Body of Christ.

We are the blood in those vessels, surging outward to bring the message of hope and grace, the insight and encouragement we’ve received from our gathering to a world starving for the Bread of Life.

From them, we acquire burdens and sorrows and are drawn back into a gathering once more, ready to share these burdens and lay them at the feet of our mighty God. Once more, we take our nourishment – the Living Water, the Bread of Life – and we are again sent outwards to those who wouldn’t hear the Gospel otherwise.

This is the rhythm of Christian life as it ought to be. The great pulse of Hope and Love. It’s the purpose of meeting together and growing and loving, working through difficulty and learning together. Our corporate heartbeat.

Let’s not neglect it, brothers and sisters. The world outside the heart of Christ needs to hear the message of hope and forgiveness in Him. Let’s be diligent to bring it to them…

13 thoughts on “The Heartbeat of Worship

  1. I agree with everything you say, but I want to add another thought. Along with everything we do for God when we gather to worship him, we also receive from him–forgiveness, faith, strength for the coming days, confidence of his victory over evil. Our visits to his house are actually feasts where he is the host and we are the guests. Whatever gifts we bring to him pale in significance to the gifts he distributes to us. J.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh I don’t think we have anything to offer Him at all! Worship is our privilege and what are are made for. My main thing here is one good reason why we need to gather together. It isn’t the pastor’s job to tell the world about Christ – it’s ours. The pastors and teachers equip the body (the rest of us) to share the hope we have in Christ and to live in God-honoring ways. But we come empty-handed to His house….

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Heather, sad to say I don’t see much of this body life, as it is supposed to be, actually taking place much any more in organized Christianity. I see it on here, in spades! But, I don’t see it actually taking place much at all at formal gatherings of the church in places called “church.” I see so much of today’s church and their worship services, here in America anyway, more as stage productions which are geared not for encouraging and strengthening the body of Christ in our walks of faith, but for entertaining and drawing in the masses from out in the world.

    So many so-called worship services are more for entertainment than they are for equipping the saints of God for service. And, the message of the gospel is so watered down that even if people do go out from there and they do share what they believe is the gospel, it is not much different from them sharing “positive thinking” messages of sales people. So much of today’s gospel is nothing more than just being “nice” to people so that they will like us and so that they will want to come to our “church.”

    And, I also don’t see much of a place at these gatherings for us to share words of encouragement, hope and healing with one another, each of us doing our part within the body of Christ, that we might all reach maturity and that we might not be tossed here and there by all kinds of winds of teaching by people in their deceitful scheming.

    But, I agree with you that this is how it should be, ideally. I agree with you that this is how it is supposed to work, and that this is God’s design for his church, and I agree that this is what we need and that this is what we should pursue. And, I pray that the church that has fallen away from this biblical model will be brought to repentance, and that they will return to the model our Lord set down for us in his word as to how his church should work. But, I am thankful for this Christian blogging community where I do believe that we follow that model.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I am so sorry to hear you haven’t found a church home that meets this! I agree – many, many churches have fallen away from the Gospel and have become “seeker-friendly,” which really has it’s own issues. Really, if you read Ephesians 4, the teachers and preachers are gifted in order to build up the body (the church) to do ministry – ie bring the Gospel out to those people who won’t actually go into a church gathering. I’m afraid no matter how seeker-friendly the church may be, only those whom God has already stirred will enter in.

      I’ve been very, very blessed to have found a healthy church body in which many of the members truly do bring the Gospel out into their day-to-day lives. The pastors I’ve met are genuine lovers of God first and foremost, and it shows in their lives. I’m humbled to be a part of it and so, so thrilled. It isn’t perfect, of course, but I’ve seen a lot of healthy, Biblical family and community within it and even in the structure.

      I do look forward to that great Day when all sin is once and for all dead and gone. I love the blogging community, too. I’m having less and less time to spend online, though, because of what I call my analog life. My two daughters who are still at home, my son in college, and my “adopted” kids of all ages are really my main focus right now, along with some really special ladies God has put into my life. I’m super-thankful for all of them, too.

      I pray you will find a healthy community nearby, Sue! It’s hard, but God is worth “all the things.” I’m glad He brought you to the online blogging community!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Heather, thank you so much for your loving and gracious response, and for your understanding heart. I am glad for you and your situation but that is not the norm these days. I have been appreciating so much the Christian community on here which gives us the opportunity to use our gifts for the encouragement and strengthening of the body of Christ. And I will look forward to meeting you and all my brothers and sisters in Christ one day in heaven.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I look forward to that as well! I know where you are, though. It took us over a decade to find a healthy church. It is far from perfect – and one of my really close friends works there, so I know a bit about it – but it is much closer to the image painted in this post. I’m incredibly thankful that God led us here!

        Liked by 1 person

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