I am one of a unique minority in America who does not spend morning in leisure or lawn care. I spend it in worship. I don’t use the highly personalized rationalization that I can worship God anywhere–out in nature or on the golf course. (Don’t get time for nature very often and the only praying I do on the golf course is, “God, don’t let me miss this putt.” I join with other people of similar commitment to worship God as a community.
Church researchers have a measure they call the “butt factor.” It’s a little crude but it measures “how many butts will be in the pews on a Sunday morning.” That figure currently stands (in 2010) around 15%, a little more (but only a little) if you live in the Bible Belt of the Southeast and Texas, a little less if you live as I do in the Middle Atlantic or Northeast.
At this point many Christians will now launch into a riff about the “paganizing” or “Europination” of America. I share their evaluation, but my reasons are different.
I worship on Sunday morning because of a relationship with the Living God–my Creator, my Forgiver, my Life Changer, my Leader, my Friend.
My life has been changed immeasurably for the better because I have chosen to make God the center of my life instead of a casual acquaintance. My life continues to find peace and power because I keep clearly focused on Him, instead of allowing Him to slip out of sight and out of mind.
I join others in worship because we are not Lone Rangers. We are interdependent people living in a tough, often lonely world. We need the connection and encouragement others to survive and to thrive. We need others to remind us of the importance of God so that we do do not fall into the temptation to believe the lie that we are in charge and we in control.
I join in worship with others to bear witness to the reality that there is more to Sunday morning than the New York Times Crossword puzzle or the futile pursuit of a green lawn or jogging in traffic or youth soccer tournaments. All of the above are good things but they do not give my life power and purpose, hope and joy.