Several years ago, I had the privilege of leading a group of high schoolers on a mission trip to Italy.
[Side note: One thing you have to know is that God has a sense of humor about me. I love Europe. I could travel to Europe whenever and wherever anyone wanted me to go. People seem to think I should expand my horizons and travel to other parts of the world, and I have, but I think there’s just so much to explore in Europe. Which is why it’s funny that twice God has allowed me to lead mission trips to Europe—once to Italy and once to Switzerland. He knows I’m a wimp and need cushy places to serve Him, I guess.]
So anyway, back to that summer. We spent a couple of weeks learning about Italian culture, a little about the church in Italy (only 1% of Italians consider themselves evangelical Christians), and getting to know an amazing group of high school kids.
Our time in Italy culminated at a movie theater where, on a Sunday morning, several churches from the area came together for a worship service. Much like many American churches, a worship band stood in front and led us in singing. Unlike American worship, the songs were sung in Italian. I didn’t know all the songs, but I did know a few, so I sang along in English.
During this time of worship, something came over me. Maybe it was the singing, maybe it was the Spirit of God who was so evident there, or maybe it was just that I was tired. But I was overcome by a sense of unity with the Italian believers. As we stood singing to the One True God, I got a glimpse into the church universal, and was reminded that all over the world on that same Sunday, believers were gathered to worship the Creator, Redeemer, and Savior of the world.
I cried. Not just a dab-at-your-eyes kind of cry. Tears rolled down my face as I thought about the privilege we have to worship God; not everyone in the world has that opportunity. I thought about how one day, all believers will be gathered together to worship God in heaven—every tribe and tongue and people and nation will be represented there.
Worship is an awesome privilege.
But I don’t always treat worship as the privilege it is. Some weeks I’m tired. Some weeks I’m distracted. Some weeks I’m just waiting to get to lunch.
I don’t “cherish the hour,” as one pastor put it.
And that attitude rubs off on my children.
One of the reasons I wrote First Ask Why was because I wanted to know the motivations behind some of the spiritual disciplines we practice. And worship is one of those disciplines that sometimes feels hard for me. (Please tell me it’s hard for you some days, too!)
If worship is so hard, why should we do it? I outline three main reasons.
1. Worship allows us to practice spiritual self-discipline. Earlier in the book I share why self-discipline is so important, and here we take another angle on self-discipline. Spiritual self-discipline will make us stronger in the things that matter most. Don’t discount it.
2. Worship prepares our children to become adults who worship. Worship takes practice, and in order to make it a habit for our children, one that they can take with them to college and into adulthood, we need to start now by making church attendance a priority in our families.
3. Worship is for the long-haul. Did you know that the presence of “gray hairs” in your church is having an influence on your kids? You may not even know them, but as I say in the book, “The very presence of older generations in our churches tells our children that faith is something worth holding on to, no matter what the years may bring.”
What are you saying (maybe not in words, but by your actions and attitudes) to your kids about the importance of worship? Will you make worship a priority in your family?
Your kids are counting on it.