I heard this question from someone last week: “Do you really think that taking children to a second worship service on Sunday in a congregation where you don’t regularly attend should be a priority over spending quality time with a close family member?” I’ve thought about that a lot.
The answer is “yes.” A simple yes. Quality time in corporate worship of the One who sustains us is always more important than spending that time with any human being or in any material effort. But the important and overarching truth is that children need consistency. They need to see consistency in our ordered lives for the Lord, above all. They need to see, over and over and over again, that every single time the saints are assembling at regular times, we are there. They need to expect this and they do not need to see exceptions made for schedules that can easily be altered to accommodate the consistent pattern they’ve come to observe in our families. It takes something pretty big for our families to give consent to miss school, tournaments, performances and activities that have involved a lot of financial investment. How much more should parents take advantage of this extremely tangible and obvious display of devotion to God? As a matter of fact, when they see us making an extreme effort to be at every service or make a provision for a worship time when traveling, in lieu of the one we are missing in our home congregations, they are even more impressed at how important the spiritual things are in our hearts. They understand that every relationship pales into insignificance compared to the one we have with the Father we adore. They understand that every activity is in the background of, and is influenced by the commitment we have to our older Brother. They come to know that, in a world that rushes and presses our schedules, “there’s a place of quiet rest near to the heart of God.” They know. They see.
My friend Shelby Camp had a tiny newborn in the NICU on a ventilator on a Sunday morning last spring. She and her husband Billy made the decision to go to worship God on that day instead of going to the hospital. She said this: “Why would we go to the hospital, where we can do nothing, when we can go and worship the One who can do anything?”
She said it all.
Going to worship as a matter of course is not extremism. It’s Daniel praying in the window toward the holy city. It’s a staunch commitment to never change the course of our sanctified lives because there’s an inconvenience or even a threat. Daniel could have reasoned it was way more important to continue his work for God’s people, in a land given over to idolatry than it was to bow in front of the window. He could have hidden to pray in an inner chamber. But it was matter of course and his example still talks, from a den of lions, to our families today.