Wednesday night, at youth group, I taught a lesson called “Treat Sunday Special”–based on Hebrews 10:19-25. The last two verses of that passage read as follows:
“And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” (ESV)
This year, we are teaching through a series called “Follow Me,” in which we’re hoping to help teenagers get a feel of what it actually means–and what it actually looks like–for them to follow Jesus. So this month’s challenge was for them to spend Sundays worshiping Jesus with our church family.
I tried to draw out a few simple observations from the text and then press into the students why worshiping on Sundays with a local church (and not just a youth group) is a vital part of following Jesus. A few quick take-aways/notes that might be helpful for you to consider for your teenager, your child, or even your self:
- Giving up on gathering with a church is not a new phenomenon. Apparently even 2000 years ago, believers were tempted to do the same!
- We all need to be “stirred up” (like fondue that’s starting to solidify) to remember how great Jesus is and how we are called to respond to Him. And fondue doesn’t stir itself! We need each other.
- Jesus made it “his custom” to gather weekly with God’s people at the synagogue (the Jewish equivalent of a church building back then) to hear God’s Word read and taught–and to pray with God’s people (see Luke 4:16). So if we are to follow Him, we ought to do the same.
- The earliest Christians seem to have moved their regular day of worship from Saturday to Sunday (see Acts 20:7 and 1 Corinthians 16:1-2) to have a weekly reminder of the cosmically significant raising of Jesus on the “first day of the week” (see Matthew 28:1, Mark 16:2, Luke 24:1, and John 20:19).
- This passage and others like it frequently uses language of “us” drawing near to God and “us” holding fast to the gospel. We are too quick to think of ourselves as individuals loved by God (which is true) to the neglect of remembering that we are part of a family/body of which we are just a small part.
- Our Sunday gatherings are more than just singing and listening to a lecture. Our middle and high schoolers who are in choir class at their school do those two things every single day! There is something unique about God’s people gathering together. We get to engage with: a) God’s people, b) God’s Word, and c) God’s Spirit–through means like songs, prayers, reading of Scripture, preaching of Scripture, communion, baptisms, and interactions with each other.
- Sundays can be thought of, as the Puritans would call it, as the “Market Day for our souls” in which we gathering as much spiritual food as we can before we go out into our lives during the week.
- I encouraged our students, when it comes to Sunday morning worship to: a) be there, b) be awake, c) be engaged, and d) be committed to it long term.
- But I wanted them to remember that worshiping with the church is not a duty, but ought to be a delight. I pointed them back to that passage above, nothing that as “the Day” of Jesus’ return gets closer, we ought to want to be with, and worship with, God’s people “all the more.” Because when Jesus returns, that is precisely what we are going to be doing for eternity–worshiping Jesus with others.
This issue is one that parents must lead their children through. As parents, we must evaluate our own treatment of Sundays first and foremost–whether we think of them rightly (especially the gathering of the church together). This was convicting for me, even as a pastor…But then we must lead our children to do the same. Our children’s engagement in worship gatherings on Sundays will be intimately tied to our families’ scheduling and orienting of our Sunday mornings–and our weekends as a whole. Our leadership of them will be vitally important for them as they think through how to approach worship with God’s people. (For example: Do we come to one service, and if so, where is our son or daughter engaging during that time? In a class with his/her peers, or with the broader church in a worship service? Is a Wednesday night youth group gathering sufficient or is there something profound that’s missing if Sunday morning worship isn’t a regular pattern of his/her life? How tightly do you manage his/her athletic or work calendars as they start to creep into Sundays? etc.)
Much to think about! I’m not going to legislate ways to parent through this, of course. I’m not going to set up another law for God’s people to keep. 🙂 But I do stand by the big idea that I emphasized Wednesday night and what that writer of Hebrews emphasized 2000 years ago: let’s not neglect meeting together with our church. And let’s teach our children to follow suit.
If you’d like to listen to the audio of the talk (although quality isn’t the greatest) you can go to: