“Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. 25 And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.” – Hebrews 10:24-25
The COVID-19 pandemic has effectively shut-down in-person church gatherings across the US and around the globe. Fortunately, when God closed the church doors, He opened a browser window and thus enabled us to continue to worship over the internet. There is a nearly endless list of things I can still do sitting on my couch. I can do parts of my job, shop for groceries, talk to friends who live in other states, write a sermon, attend school and even have church.
But while the internet is a beautiful thing and fulfills a real need, we should not think of the church as a podcast; it is so much more than that. It’s a community. It’s worshiping with others, praying for others, hurting with others, serving others, being involved in the lives of others to name a few. Our phones cannot replace the church. There are advantages of going to church that you simply can’t download. The Coronavirus has created a new normal that I hope we will not view as the “default” when the pandemic is over. If the goal is to do life together, to engage in a mission together, to quite literally change the world together, well, that involves actual human relationships and in-person engagement. God tells us in His Word to “not neglect our meeting together.” (Hebrews 10:25) The Bible even goes so far as to call the Church the “Bride of Christ.” If you love Jesus, you will love the things that He loves, and God loves His bride. God wants the complete and unconditional love of His bride. The Church is this important to God, so it should be ever-important to us.
All of us long for community and connection with others. There is something biblically powerful about gathering together with other believers to worship. Jesus said, “For where two or three gather together as my followers, I am there among them.” (Matthew 18:20) God has given us the ability to gather together in church and in small groups. It fulfills something inside of us to do life with others, encourage each other and be authentically involved in each other’s lives. Christian TV, podcasts, books, and conferences are wonderful additions to our spiritual lives, but nothing can take the place of a consistent Christian community through the local church.
The reality is that we grow more together than alone. Gathering regularly with other believers becomes a refining process whereby we help each other, pray for each other and encourage each other to want to follow Christ more wholeheartedly. It is a truly beautiful thing.
This, then, is the beauty of the church: not that it is perfect or convenient or fits easily into my life but that without it, life would be lacking something. Something you can’t find on the couch.
- What do you see as the benefits of attending church weekly?
- What do you see as the benefits of a small group?