The ancient church calendar rhythms and weekly worship rhythms of the local church can be powerful counter-formational forces in our lives. Like anything, it’s all about regularity and habit.
When every moment of our iWorld existence conditions us to celebrate the self, the church boldly celebrates something bigger and grander and more compelling. In an age of nauseating narcissism where everyone clamors for stardom and Instagram likes, the church humbles us and weekly reminds us: this is not about you. This is about God. You are welcome here, you are wanted, your presence in the body is important. You are part of the story. But God is the star, not you. What a freeing and wonderful thing.
A healthy church proclaims a message that is radically God-centered, not me-centered. Trevin Wax puts it this way:
Expressive individualism would have us look deep into our hearts to discover our inner essence and express that to the world. But the gospel shows how the depths of our hearts are steeped in sin; it claims that what we need most is not expression, but redemption. The world says we should look inward, while the gospel says to look upward. In an expressive individualist society, that message is countercultural.
Upward, not inward. Redemption, not expression. These are just some of the radical alternatives the church offers our me-centered age. In a world that is constantly on the move, church worship forces us to be still. In a “quick to speak” world that is deafeningly loud, church worship allows us to sit quietly and listen, basking in God’s word preached and his wisdom imparted. In a world where we spend way too much time talking about ourselves—on social media, blogs, YouTube, and so forth—church worship allows us to talk about God and to God. We sing of his attributes, his love and mercy toward us. We declare it in liturgy, creeds, and prayers. We are shaped by his story, in Bible readings, preaching, baptism, the Lord’s Supper, confession, singing together, and other regular rituals.