by Calven Celliers
Earlier this week a member of our congregation shared the following short article with me, and I want to share it, and some of my thoughts, with you:
“As church attendance numbers fade and online services become very convenient (who doesn’t love not getting ready in the morning or leaving home?), it’s important to remember why church attendance for you and your family matters so much.
You can’t serve from your sofa. You can’t have community of faith on your sofa. You can’t experience the power of a room full of believers worshipping together on your sofa.
Christians aren’t consumers, they’re contributors. We don’t watch. We engage. We give. We sacrifice. We encourage. We do life together.
The church needs you.
And you need the church.
Wherever you are, find a local church where you and your family can be part of community and use your talents to advance the kingdom and reach others. To come alongside one another physically, not just through a screen. While I’m grateful for technology to keep people connected that can’t physically come to a facility or need to be away, it’s absolutely not like being in the building. Never will be.
Yes, church on the sofa is nice. But it’ll never be the same as church in the sanctuary.”
The church’s physical gathering is a glad and visible expression of its spiritual nature: believers are the called-out people of God, united by faith in Jesus Christ as Saviour. Community, however, requires commitment. Only the Holy Spirit can create real fellowship between believers, but it takes God’s power and our commitment to produce a loving Christian community. I reckon there’s truth in the statement that ‘to neglect, or forsake, assembling with other believers is to turn from God’s design for His church and embrace a false substitute: the notion that Christianity is individualistic, rather than familial or communal.’
Life is meant to be shared. God intends for us to experience life together. The Bible calls this shared experience fellowship. Fellowship includes unselfish loving, honest sharing, practical serving, sacrificial giving, sympathetic comforting, and all the other “one another” commands found in Scripture. Most, if not all of those, cannot be done online. We are not neglecting nor forsaking the assembling of God’s people if we temporarily obey a government order to protect public health. But we are neglecting and forsaking our assembling if we decide that physical gatherings are simply not necessary or relevant or as convenient for us. The physical gatherings of the church are God-ordained means for believers to have their faith in His promises strengthened. I firmly believe that for us as believers, our churches’ physical gatherings are essential means of growing both spiritually and relationally.
No matter how you look at it, the words of Hebrews 10 are relevant, “ 24 And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, 25 not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another — and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” (Hebrews 10:24 & 25NIV)
To Christians who sincerely wonder whether “virtual church” has now proven itself a preferred new normal, the Scripture makes this clear: It’s virtually impossible. Life together is always better!
See you in Church next Sunday,