Every week we gather for worship – and surely the church is more than worship, but it is a pretty big part of our life together.
Within that time each week, what is the most important part?
Often it might depend on who you ask. The musicians and the choir might say the music. The preacher will advocate for the sermon. The liturgist will quickly point to Holy Communion.
But what if none of them are right?
What are we doing?
All of the things above are important. All of them.
And they all point to certain things we hope to accomplish in worship. Being lifted closer to God through beauty, song, and prayer. Receiving God’s grace through the Sacraments. Learning more about Scripture and how it applies to our lives.
Again, all good and important things. But are they the primary thing?
Here’s my suggestion: The primary purpose of communal worship is to grow in relationship with God and one another.
All of those other wonderful things happen when we attend to this primary thing.
Perhaps the goal of communal worship is the community.
You can worship alone, pray alone, study scripture alone, and sing alone – and those are great things to do. But that is not what we are doing when we gather for worship.
When we gather for worship, it becomes about more than just me.
It’s about us together.
The Most Important 10 Minutes
The most important 10 minutes of worship are the 10 minutes immediately before and after worship.
Sorry preachers, musicians, choirs, and liturgists.
In the 10 minutes before and after worship, we build relationships with the people we worship alongside. This is when we often do the real work of building community.
If you come in right as worship begins and leave as soon as worship is over, you are missing the best part!
If you want to grow in your faith, I recommend growing in relationship with those in your worship community.
Strike up a conversation before or after worship.
It doesn’t have to be the most deep and meaningful conversation you’ve ever had – just make a commitment to get to know other worshippers a little bit better.
Tending to the ten minutes before and after worship – growing in relationship with the people in your faith community – is one of the best things you can do for your faith.
But I Don’t Like Talking to New People!
I get it.
I feel the same way. Small talk and meeting new people is definitely on my list of least favorite things. I’m at heart an introvert, and a little bit shy.
And yet, I have learned that paying attention to relationships in this way has benefitted my life and my faith in too many ways to count.
The best ways for us to grow always involve us moving outside of our comfort zone.
So just start. Step outside of that comfort zone, introduce yourself to a new person on Sunday morning. Strike up a conversation. You might just discover a new friend.
“How was your week?”
“I don’t think we’ve met yet, my name is David.”
“Wasn’t that a great sermon!” (that one’s my favorite)
“Your kids sure were sweet during worship – I loved their energy.”