A church that genuinely, faithfully worships Jesus together each week is all the more prepared to live as the church each hour, and a church that lives as the church all week enjoys the sweetest worship together each Sunday.
At best, most Christians spend about one percent of our waking hours in corporate worship.
Here’s the math: If you sleep each night about seven hours (which most adults need, at minimum), and the weekly gathering of your local church is about 75 minutes —and you attend faithfully, essentially every Sunday—that makes for roughly one percent of your 120 waking hours each week.
Perhaps it’s striking to you, as it has been for me, to realize that most of us spend only one percent of our waking lives in the church’s weekly gathering. What a surprisingly small percentage this is (especially if we presume that church life essentially amounts to Sunday mornings). Not to mention what we give our lives to—and how much time—the rest of the week. Last year, according to one survey, the average American spent almost eight hours each day on new and traditional media. That adds up to more than fifty hours per week on our screens.
The gathering of our local churches is but a tiny sliver of our waking lives—ives now filled less and less with undistracted, productive labor, and more and more with consuming content through our devices. What do we need to remember about this surprisingly tiny and absolutely vital one percent called corporate worship?
Just One Hour
First, consider what a relatively small part of church life the weekly gathering is. However large Sunday morning looms in our conception of what the church is (which, as we’ll see below, can be for good reasons), we do well to realize that being the church is not a 60-to-75-minute weekly event. We are not only the church when we gather; we are the church as we scatter to our homes, schools, workplaces, and throughout town. We are the church, waking or sleeping, 168 hours per week.
One sad aspect of modern life in our unbundled, disbursed existences, spread apart by automobiles, is we tend to think of church as a single event each week, rather than an all-week, all-of-life reality. If we are in Christ, we are members of his body, 24/7/365. Church is not a weekly service; church is Christ’s people, called to daily lives of service, love, and worship, not just in the sanctuary but on our streets and all through our towns.
If being the church is just a single gathering, and not all week, how much can we really bless and be blessed by one another? When will we practice our precious New Testament one-anothers? A few quick minutes before and after the service will be woefully inadequate for the portrait the apostles paint of our life together.