Our church has been streaming services for years. We make it available for those who are homebound or traveling. We have a pretty good system of keeping our church family informed through online content. So when the COVID-19 pandemic hit, we didn’t have to reinvent ourselves, but we did have to spotlight things we regularly use as supplements.
For the last 2 Sundays, we have only had worship streamed online due to a desire to respect the government’s requests (Rom. 13:1) for social distancing. While we made some adjustments to make a good thing work even better, it still makes me long for the norm.
I want to be WITH our people.
Without knowing what the next few weeks hold, we have to make 2 plans for every 1 scenario. You just never know what the next press conference from the national, state, or local level is going to reveal.
While I have been pleased with what our team has provided through our online services, it is lacking a critical element: the gathering of the saints (Heb. 10:24-25).
Before this crisis, people have watched preachers from television screens instead of gathering with a local congregation. Nowadays, you can view almost any preacher in the world from the ease of your phone.
So, for many, this crisis hasn’t changed anything. Not in your spiritual practices anyway.
- If you have connected with a church via content on a website, nothing has changed at all.
- If you are a casual spectator of your church programs but not connecting with the people, you might not have noticed a big difference either.
- If you are invested in deep relationships within your church family, you are missing something significant that content can’t provide.
If nothing is currently missing in your online worship, that might reveal that you are more disconnected from the actual church than what you should be.
Maybe you miss certain freedoms right now. You might feel stir crazy. Quite possibly, you might miss your rhythms, pace, schedule, work, school, friends, drive-thrus, malls, Mexican restaurants, gyms, and other gatherings, but do you miss the church? Do you long for it?
We have watered down the gathering of the church so badly that a global pandemic changes little for many of us.
I write this post as a pastor. You might say, “Well, of course, you would say that. You have to say that.” If you think that being responsible for additional people makes my life any easier, I would beg you to reconsider.
I am not asking you to rethink connecting with a church on a deep level for the church’s sake but for yours. You don’t understand how dangerous an isolated life can be. You need others more than you might ever realize. And others actually need you as well.
If you don’t feel like you are missing out from your church right now, that means that you are missing out on it all the time.
I pray these days will cause many to treasure what we have taken for granted, and I hope that it will cause many to seek what they have never experienced.