What Is the Single Most Important Habit?

Why Corporate Worship Is Critical

The reason corporate worship may be the single most important Christian habit, and our greatest weapon in the fight for joy, is because like no other single habit, corporate worship combines all three essential principles of God’s ongoing supply of grace for the Christian life: hearing his voice (in his word), having his ear (in prayer) and belonging to his body (in the fellowship of the church).

In corporate worship, we hear from God, in the pastor’s call to worship, in the reading of Scripture, in the faithful preaching of the gospel, in the words of institution at the Table, in the commission to be lights in the world. In corporate worship, we respond to God in prayer, in confession, in singing, in thanksgiving, in recitation, in petitions, in taking the elements in faith. And in corporate worship, we do it all together.

Make It a Habit

Settle it now. Make it a habit. Corporate worship is too important to revisit each weekend and wrestle, Will I go this weekend, or sit this one out? If you leave it open-ended, as so many do, excuse after excuse will keep you from the storehouses of grace God loves to open in corporate worship. Over time your soul will become dry and shallow because of it. Neglecting to meet together will soon sow and nourish seeds of unbelief in your soul.

Decide now, and begin putting it as a pattern into your life, not to revisit the decision each weekend, and not to bow out on community group (or whatever other regular corporate gatherings are vital in the structure of your local church) because of lame, myopic excuses. Of course, unusual circumstances will arise, when you’re out of town, or at the hospital with a new baby, or something else manifestly restricting. But the sad truth is we are far too prone to give ourselves a pass on meeting together, when we really should have made it a habit ahead of time, entertaining only the rarest of exceptions.

And just to be sure, the reason to make corporate worship a habit is not to check the box on perfect attendance, and not because corporate worship alone is enough to fully power the Christian life, and not because mere attendance in worship will save your soul. This is not a call for legalistic going-through-the-motions. The hope is not just to show up and be a shell.

Rather, this is a summons to harness the power of habit to rescue our souls from empty excuses that keep us from spiritual riches and increasing joy. Negligence and chronic minimizing of the importance of corporate worship reveal something unhealthy and scary in our souls. Let’s resist it with fresh resolve.

For our deep and enduring joy, there is simply no replacement for corporate worship.  

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David Mathis
David Mathis (@davidcmathis) is executive editor at desiringGod.org and an elder at Bethlehem Baptist Church, Minneapolis. He has edited several books, including Thinking. Loving. Doing., Finish the Mission, and Acting the Miracle, and is co-author of How to Stay Christian in Seminary.