These days even more than ever I get the core social elements (fellowship, teaching, and worship) of my Christian walk from a variety of sources. There's fellowship (by which I mean RUF), and Bible study, and more Bible study, and church, and friends, and family ... and not only that, but the elements themselves are split up as well.
Take worship, for example. The kind of worship that is teaching - that is pulsing deep truths right into your bones - that I can get either at church or at RUF. The kind of worship that is like roaring - that I can get at church or at RUF. But there is another kind of worship that I find fellowships are ill-suited to, and that I have been missing lately.
This is worship that isn't just roaring or declarative - not just triumphant. It's sweet. It can be hard and fast, or slow and tender, and it's not so much about teaching truth as savoring it. The kind of worship that doesn't just dwell on truth, but dwells also on the goodness of that truth. The kind of worship that feeds your spirit in its war against the flesh by strengthening your true self's affection for God. The kind of worship that shatters you before the Lord and doesn't just draw you but seizes you to repentance. This is worship like sex. Okay, so I've never had sex, but I'm 100% sure the analogy holds. Let me put in terms of something I have experienced: this is worship like kissing - the kind of kissing that crushes your beloved into your arms and covers her mouth with yours and is like drinking of her entire person as if she were the first and last spring on Earth.
Growing up at The Church on the Way and being the child of Jack Hayford and Scott Bauer, I am convinced that Scripture teaches the necessity of this kind of worship for spiritual vitality and spiritual victory, both corporately and individually. If I have never found it in an on-campus fellowship, that's no slight to them. I think it is best found in a church. This is, in fact, the single biggest factor that drew me initially to The River. Lately it has been missing. But you know what? We've finally hired a full-time worship pastor, and ... well, man. You should have been there today.
My church is back.