Summary: Worship services are first and foremost to offer worship to God through Christ Jesus, rather than satisfy the attendee. Many have lost sight of the fact that Church services are more about the attendee giving than receiving.
“I used to attend congregational worship services but I quit because I got nothing from it.”
“Church is boring.”
“When I sit in the pew during church services, I think about how much more I could be accomplishing if I had stayed home.”
Through the decades, I have heard a multitude of people make statements, like the above, to explain why they choose to not regularly attend congregational worship services. Such sentiments have increased sharply, over the last 20 years, which have lead to a steady decline in individuals and families attending 'church'.
Sadly, many, if not most, of the churches have tried to reverse that trend by incorporating more entertainment in their services rather than focus on genuine piety. Such an approach is disastrous in that it validates and promotes the unBiblical mindset that services are first and foremost to satisfy the attendee rather than offer worship to God through Christ Jesus. Many have lost sight of the fact that Church services are more about the attendee giving than receiving.
Too many people think they are to be spectators in congregational worship services rather than full participants in the thanking, praising and glorifying the Lord. They have disregarded the truth that 'worship' is a verb...an action. Those Christians who have a godly spirit will offer-up every Scriptural component of the service as an act of reverence and adoration to the Lord. Ask not what the service can do for you, but what you can add to the worship service. We are to join the other members of the congregation in focusing all of our heart, mind, body and soul upon the Lord.
I am not saying that we should not come-away from the service without being edified. It is important that each should be able to come-away from a service feeling that they have, in some degree, been fed spiritually. But, edification is always secondary to worshiping God. And, yet, they are not exclusionary in nature. If you give your whole being in worshiping the Lord, the outcome is almost always a deep joy and “the joy of the Lord is your strength” (Nehemiah 8:10).
But, is worshiping with a church congregation necessary? Do the Scriptures actually make attending 'church' a must? The answer to both questions is an resounding 'Yes!' In Hebrews 10:24-27, Paul condemns those early Christians who made it a habit of missing congregational worship services: “Let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good deeds - not ceasing to meet together, as is the habit of some, but admonishing one another, all the more so, as you see the Day coming near. For if we sin deliberately, after receiving the knowledge of the Truth, there is no longer any sacrifice for sins left, nothing but an awful outlook of doom, of that burning wrath which will consume the foes of God.” All Bible authorities agree that Paul was addressing the weekly congregational worship services. He claims that for those who habitually choose to not assemble together for worship is to “sin deliberately.” But, why were some of the Hebrew Christians habitually avoiding assembling with the church for worship? It was because they feared that the ungodly authorities would catch them as being followers of Christ and jail them and confiscate their homes and goods (Hebrews 10:32-36)!
Even in a severe period of persecution, Paul still expected that they obey the Lord's wishes by assembling themselves together for worship. What do you think the Apostle would think about the excuse to not attend church services because they are boring and not entertaining? What would he say to those who choose not to assemble because they want a day to take it easy? What would he say to those who miss 'church' because they prefer to watch a ballgame or go fishing, picnicking, boating, hunting, golfing or camping? I think you know the answer.
Indeed, our God desires (and commands) to be worshiped. But, our worship must be acceptable to God, Jesus states, in John 4:23-25, that “the true worshipers shall worship the Father in spirit and truth: for such does the Father seek to be His worshipers. God is a Spirit: and they that worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.”
What does Jesus mean that we “must worship in spirit and truth”?
Worshiping in “spirit” is to fully engage the heart and mind and soul in sincere demonstrations of adoration and reverence and gratitude toward the Lord our God. It is a longing to give glory and honor to He Who died in our stead so that we can boldly present ourselves before the Throne and join, not just our fellow brethren, but also the myriad of angels who acknowledge and magnify the power and majesty and loving-kindness of God Almighty.