An article in our local paper this past Sunday addressed the way that political candidates relate to churches—both in soliciting votes and to being part of a congregation. One official pointed out that when he was elected to public office he left a smaller church to attend a large church with five weekend services and weekend attendance of 7000 to 8000.
He explained that in his new church he could “blend in and be part of the crowd.” No one knew him, so there were no “political questions.” He also pointed out the convenience: “There are so many times you can go.”
Whether one is a politician or not, there is some freedom in simply being a face in the crowd. Having attended a number of large churches, I can appreciate the anonymity available. No one asks you about giving money, helping with a committee, or assisting with the worship. On the other hand, no one asks how your family is doing, what’s going on at work, or how they can pray for you.
Of course, one can choose absolute anonymity by staying home and watching a service on television or over the internet. This is a necessity for some due to infirmity or limited mobility, but virtual participation would seem to fall short of an “in the body” worship experience.
Our local politician seems, like many, to miss the point of worship. The writer of Hebrews says, “Let us not give up the habit of meeting together, as some are doing. Instead, let us encourage one another all the more, since you see that the Day of the Lord is coming nearer.” (Hebrews 10:25, Good News Translation)
When people don’t know who you are, they have a difficult time encouraging you, and you can’t encourage them. We are called to be part of a community of faith, a fellowship of believers, and this requires some level of participation and accountability. We must know and be known.
Worship itself is more that a passive experience of observing others perform. Worship calls on us to be involved, to interact with others, and to come before a Holy God as God’s people. Can we worship God by ourselves? Of course, but this is only one aspect of the worship of God.
From my perspective, the heavier my responsibilities are, the more I need fellowship with the people of God; but, then, I am not a politician.