THE SPECIAL EFFECTS OF CORPORATE WORSHIP
Whether you know it or not the church is full of mind-blowing special effects. No—I’m not talking about smoke machines, lighting rigs, or motion graphics. I’m specifically referencing the spiritual substance of what happens when people gather together to worship God through song, teaching, and fellowship.
In particular, there are three special effects that light up the church and touch the world:
EFFECT #1: WHEN THE CHURCH GATHERS WE REFLECT GOD.
The one triune God is a perfect community in Himself. Full of love, generosity, deference, purity and all other virtues. As worshippers, we were made to reflect God in the clearest way possible. Although the presence and power of sin has made this an impossible activity in our own strength, through Christ and the enabling power of the Holy Spirit we are restored to reflect back to God the virtues of which we are capable. This is the joy and expectation of our faith, that we are day by day being transformed into the image of Christ. However, it is impossible to completely reflect our God in worship apart from the church community. Simply put, we need one another in order to fully express our worship to God.
“To me, though I am the very least of all the saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, and to bring to light for everyone what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God, who created all things, so that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 3:8-10).
EFFECT #2: WHEN THE CHURCH GATHERS WE ENTER INTO AGREEMENT.
As we confess together the truth of God, we find our place in His story of redemption. Loneliness is the sense in our hearts that we are disconnected from others in common purpose and experience. The pressures of the world around us and the internal conflict of temptation seek to drive us apart. Corporate confession and practice of God’s truth has the power to knit within us an eternal fabric of unity and agreement.
“So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind” (Philippians 2:1–2).
EFFECT #3: WHEN THE CHURCH GATHERS WE REINFORCE GOD’S VALUES.
When we rehearse God’s truth to one another we become increasingly aware of and accountable to His eternal value system. It is vitally important that we not only reflect back to God the image of Christ, but also in doing so that we reflect to one another these same attributes. The church community is where the light of His truth should be most apparent and therefore most deeply reinforced.
“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 5:14-16).
The true “special effects” of corporate worship come from our response to God and His goodness toward us. Let us always remember that the power and presence of God is not only felt in our individuality but most importantly in community.