Online church is the new norm
I think we can all agree that online church is not the same as attending church in person. Corporate worship turns into a small family gathering while hearing God’s word feels like a university lecture.
After months of lockdown, going to an online church became mundane, perhaps because my heart was stagnant too. The excitement of attending church dwindled to a routine. The joy of communion disintegrated in an empty heart desperately longing for fellowship. And the desire to learn was replaced by other endeavours.
Our generation is overqualified at multi-tasking. We can listen to a sermon while scrolling through social media and replying to any message that pops up. Any possible distraction at our fingertips grabs our attention.
We like to call it “multi-tasking” to praise ourselves. But I doubt it was the reality. The instant gratifications from anything not church-related became the single focus. The sermon was simply the background noise.
Why do we go to church?
What is the point if we’re simply watching figures move on the screen without fellowship with other believers?
Impending new Covid-19 variants challenge the reopening of church gatherings. We inevitably anticipate a lockdown announcement and calculate the risks of attending large-scale gatherings.
It is more convenient, comfortable, and safer to attend church from home. We then conclude that church should be this way and works around my schedule and desires.
We need to cease such thoughts because where is God in all of this? Jesus is the head of the church. Therefore, it is problematic to centre the attention on us. The freedom we use to act on these choices is equally concerning.
Two questions you may have previously considered are “what do I want from the church?” and “what do I want that the church is not giving me right now?” Self-centeredness underpins these questions. The focus turns from what you can bring to God and the body of Christ to how the church can add to your life.
But whatever your answer is, no matter how disappointed or frustrated you are with the church, please stay.
Don’t give up on church.
Jesus hasn’t given up on you, and he hasn’t given up on his church either.
Stop relying on the church
This is what I’ve been thinking about this summer. Church hopping isn’t always the way to find a church to satisfy your needs. Choosing a church isn’t meant to be like deciding on the meal we want to eat today.
And while I do consider it essential to decipher what is missing for you, we also need to be responsible for the present. We cannot solely rely on the church to provide for us.
We have more than enough resources in the Western church – books, music, and even multiple English Bible versions. Most of these resources we don’t even touch.
Contrarily, consider all the persecuted churches and churches in the developing world. Our fellow believers long for theological training and their copy of the Bible. They would sacrifice anything to hear the word of God preach.
Yet you probably have more than one Bible at home. You are too tied up with hobbies to study God’s word thoroughly, let alone concentrate for one hour on a Sunday morning.
I urge you to make the most of what we can access. A privilege we should not waste.
Rely on God and fill in the missing gaps with him.
Go and be the church
I understand the frustrations and struggles of the online church after months of unprecedented lockdowns over the last two years.
But please stay.
Keep following God and ask him for wisdom to navigate this season of the Church.
It was never God’s intention for us to lead ourselves. Because what is the purpose of life if he is not our focus? And what if we were never commanded to go to church but to be the Church?
Stephanie enjoys simple living, admiring nature’s beauty and intricacy, and playing the piano. She is particularly passionate about empowering the vulnerable. Writing is her way of processing thoughts and feelings to understand herself, God and the world in a deeper and more meaningful way.