What do all these things point to? Livestreamed church!
Before the days of COVID, missing church was a big deal to me. Sunday morning meant waking up early, getting ready, helping someone find the khakis that ended up in someone else’s drawer, jumping into a hot or cold minivan depending on the season, driving the familiar route to church, and entering the house of God. It’s just what we did, no questions asked.
The virus slammed the door on all that. Bam. The church closed and our TV room opened. Just like that.
A Little too Overconfident
“Of course, we’ll be back by Easter!” we all said. “That’s three whole weeks away!”
Looking back, we chuckle at our misguided confidence, but I’m glad we couldn’t imagine more than three Sundays away from the body of Christ. I’m glad it felt shocking.
As weeks passed, I admit I became more and more comfortable with the new normal. There were things I liked about livestreamed church in our family room. Things I liked a lot.
I liked not having to choose a nice outfit. I liked not having to expend the effort of talking to lots of people. I liked refilling my coffee during the announcements. I liked the sticky buns I made for my family. It felt bonding. And comfy. And easy. Come to think of it, why was I always so legalistic about going to church anyway? This works just fine.
A Little Too Comfortable
These days, many churches, including mine, have reopened with precautions in place, and many of those still meeting virtually are beginning to make plans to meet in person. Church leaders are seeking to make wise decisions for their flocks. But as church doors creak open, are we lined up, eager to reengage, or are we still sprawled on our couches in our jammies? As an introverted “comfy” at heart, this question is real to me. It’s an opportunity to live out or ignore the truth I believe: that God wants his people to gather.
I do want to take a moment to acknowledge that there are some people who need to stay home for health reasons. That is a wise but difficult decision for them when they so yearn to be back in the presence of God’s people. Please know my thoughts and prayers are with you and that your congregations do miss you.
For those of us who are able to return to church, but are having a hard time breaking up with our Sunday Morning Comforts, I’d like you to consider these three reasons why I roll out of bed and get to church.
I have an opportunity to glorify God by loving what he loves.
God’s design for his people is for us to be together, not just symbolically, but personally (Hebrews 10:25). Livestreaming is a huge help to those who need to quarantine, but it doesn’t replace the real thing. God calls us to gather so we can shout his praises with one voice, encourage each other, use our spiritual gifts to edify his body, sit under the Word together, and remind one another of the truths of the gospel. “He is worthy!” a man behind me called out during worship this Sunday. The confidence of a church member I didn’t even know buoyed my faith and strengthened my own voice. Our family enjoyed church online during the quarantine, but our worship time was a far cry from the corporate experience of drawing near to God as a congregation. God is glorified when we meet. We are built up when we meet. Let’s get back together as soon as we can!
I have an opportunity to put my fleshly cravings in their place (behind obedience to God.)
As far as physical comforts, I basically get whatever I want: a hot shower, my snack of choice from the pantry or fridge, a cushy sofa, a nice mattress, and a safe vehicle that whisks me wherever I want to go. This pampered life is a blessing—trust me, I’m not trading in my mattress for straw ticking anytime soon. The problem is that my comfort appetite is never satisfied; feeding it just makes it grow. Yes, it’s kind of nice to stay home with the family on Sunday mornings and relax with a big breakfast while we listen to the sermon. But is what we need really more comfort? More food? More lounging? Or do we need more of the presence of God with the people of God? My flesh votes for the first option. My mind and heart, informed by God’s Word, knows the second is the right answer.
I have an opportunity to lead by example.
A generation ago, attending church was pretty much expected. Nowadays it’s completely optional. A generation from now, it may be the rare exception. If I want my children to prioritize the local church when they are on their own, what kind of example am I setting for them right now? If I’m finding excuses to stay home and enjoy the livestream, they will learn that being with God’s people isn’t that important. If I put family breakfast before corporate worship, they will learn that the nuclear family is more significant than God’s family, when surprisingly, that’s not the case (Matthew 12:48–50). But if I express enthusiasm for meeting with God’s people and prioritize this privilege, my kids will know that worshipping with the body of Christ in person is what a Christian does. And they will be right.
I’m not a pastor. I’m not an elder. I’m just a church member who knows how desperately I need the diverse blessings that come from meeting with the people of God. By his grace, when the doors open each Sunday, I’ll be in the lineup. “For a day in your courts is better than a thousand elsewhere” (Psalm 84:10).
BETWEEN US GIRLS: WALKS AND TALKS FOR MOMS AND DAUGHTERS
Between Us Girls by Trish Donohue teaches mothers and daughters a new way to communicate and starts them on a wonderful, lifelong journey of getting to know one another better and learning to love their Savior more.