During this worldwide unprecedented season, I have never been firmer in my stance, that the church body needs to gather. I write this as a church very dear to my heart sits behind not one but rather 3 chain linked fences in Alberta, Canada for trying to stay open. Maybe, it is even closer to my heart because my husband was recently let go from his pastoral position, as the church we were part of is heading in a different direction.
Not having a home church family during this time has been one of the hardest and loneliest seasons for me. This is the time I need the body and I don’t have one of my own (I am thankful for our friends in the faith!).
One body many parts
We need the body of Christ to run our race. We are a family and as it says in 1 Peter chapter 4, verse 10, “Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.” The Lord has equipped each of us with special giftings that we are to use in the corporate gathering. If we are not meeting, we can’t use some of our giftings to further His kingdom.
We are one body made up of various parts and we need each other for our daily life. The Christian walk was not made for us to lone wolf it. Being faithful to the Lord and what He has called us to doesn’t stop because there is a virus. Yes, you need to take extra measures to make sure you don’t get anyone sick, but not meeting should not be an option.
It is during the trials of life that the body of Christ gathers and supports each other. Alcohol, abuse, suicide, depression, loss of income and unemployment are all up, yet we are told that it is better that churches do not meet. The Bible has all the answers to the world’s problem, even the biggest one, death. We have a hope to share and by not gathering we are not helping a very needy world.
Livestream isn’t church
It is shocking, that there are still some believers who have yet to return to church. They have been content sitting on the couch and tuning into the latest service. Some aren’t even tuning into the same local body but rather are tuning into whatever they please. This is serious.
I am all for us listening to great preachers. Please listen to many sermons, however that isn’t church. When you sit down on your couch and have a hot coffee in your hand and can channel surf for your service, that isn’t church, that is entertainment.
Church is a verb not a noun. We need to participate. We need to listen together to the word of God being preached, then apply that to our lives, challenge others within their walk, rejoice, weep and struggle with a body of believers. Church is be willing to call each other to account, looking after each other, praying for one another and laying your life down for each other.
Recently, I have been challenged about the sacrifice the early Christians and reformers had to make to gather. Some would secretly meet in the hills and trees and had people stationed as lookouts so they could warn the church if soldiers were coming to arrest them. I am humbled by how many of them lost their lives standing so firm for the gospel and did whatever they could to meet. I can only imagine what they would think of us and our ‘safe zoom churches.’ We are called to gather.
Attending church is not an option
Yes, church may look a bit different than two years ago, however it is not ok for believers to not gather at all. Hebrews chapter 10, verse 25 commands us to “not forsake our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.”
The Lord knew we would need each other. We are tempted, we give in and sin. The body of Christ is to be active in each other’s lives and live streaming a service is not going to allow you to carry out the command to gather.
I have had people tell me they are just tired of watching church, they want to “do” church. If your church is restricting or preventing people from coming, and rather is encouraging you to watch it online, you should kindly challenge your leadership. And if they won’t listen, it may be time to find a church that believes in the gathering of the believers.
Find a church that will stand firm for the truth of the word of God as it is applicable to every generation and people group, even during Covid. If they won’t open now, what are they going to do when bigger issues come up that aren’t politically correct, and the world really turns on us. Call your church to stand and open their doors.
If you are one of the people who have yet to come back to church, I implore you that the body needs you and you need us. Sure, take safety measures, however, remember that we have a real live enemy who is trying to destroy the flock and together we are stronger to stand firm. Please come home.
Genevieve Wilson is Canadian. a happily married home-schooling mum of 3, whose passion is to see people come to know Jesus. She is a seminary wife to her amazing husband.