All our lives have changed so much over the past few months, so it is no surprise that how we do church has changed as well. Overnight, we began tuning into our church from the comfort of our home. I am not going to lie, at first, I enjoyed not having to do the hustle and bustle to feed my family, make sure they are dressed and get them to church before it starts.
It was nice to make a nice cup of tea, pull up our couch and just sit down. It is easier to not have to commute to church, to make the effort to go and just to watch church in PJ’s. And while it has been a necessity for us to do this for a little while, during this unprecedented time, I believe the necessity of staying at home, in our own family units is well past its expiry date and is not healthy for the church.
It is time for us to wake up earlier, get dressed and go to physical church. We were never meant to do church alone. We were meant for fellowship.
Function of the church
I know the Bible was written in a time the predates our smartphones and Wi-Fi and surely Paul and Peter did not realize what amazing technologies we would have in the future. For example, all I must do is type ‘church service’ into my search engine and 2,610,000,000 options for church services appear. Could you imagine what Paul or Peter would say to us about neglecting the fellowship of believers for the convenience of watching church from home?
Is it still church if I watch it from home? Truthfully (and biblically), the answer is ‘no.’ You are only watching a message, or listening and worshiping, and that certainly isn’t the only purpose for church. My pastor did a great job of explaining the importance of attending church (click here) from the text found in Hebrews chapter 10, verses 24 and 25, “And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.”
Here the writer is telling us that the purpose of Church is to meet for fellowship, encouragement and to challenge each other. It looks like some people had been neglecting the meeting part and the writer is calling them back to church. This text could be easily written to us today, but no matter how inconvenient the new standards of washing hands, wearing masks, and sitting a few extra feet apart, we are not to neglect the gathering of the believers.
Instead, we are to provoke each other to good works. How are we to challenge one another in the faith if we are not walking together, examining each other’s lives? We are to be in each other’s faces, pointing each other to Christ and encouraging each other to run this race. The Christian life is hard, there are so many trials and temptations and we need the body to help us through. If you are only watching a pastor preach and a few people sing you are not participating in the body.
Also, the passage in Hebrews tells us that we should be meeting even more as the Day approaches (the great day of the Lord). The times are going to get more and more evil and the body is going to need to rely on the encouragement from other believers to pull through what lies ahead.
Be the true body
Though Zoom and Facetime are good, we need the physical body to be present. Sometimes we need to give a fellow believer a hug, an encouragement, let them cry on our shoulder and you can’t do that if you are not physically present. Think of the great sacrifice it is for our brothers/sisters to meet in some of the closed nations of the world.
They have the real threat of the government to take them in and here we are being complacent because we like the convenience of our couch and having a relaxing Sunday. Yet, these fellow believers risk their lives to meet with each other to praise the Lord.
I do understand that there is a virus out there and that it is killing people. But we don’t need to live in fear. We can’t live in fear, we need to be the salt in this world. We need to be proclaiming Christ to a world when it is scared and fearful. We need to tell them that we have the answer to death and that is Christ.