Over the last couple years, there has been a debate about what church is and how we do it. Really this is nothing new, but the recent debate stirred up again those attempting to make the case that “online church” is the same as attending a service in person. There are even prominent Christian leaders who are having services on Facebook’s Meta.
In this two-part series, I want to give eight reasons why you should come to church physically. The gathering of God’s people in person cannot be replaced by an online gathering. This is not to say that there are no extenuating circumstances like the person recovering from a surgery, or the homebound elderly who can no longer leave home. It is to say that those of us who are able should meet in person. The goal is only a brief explanation, not extensive discussion on each of these.
#1 Come to Sing with and to Each Other
Can we sing at home and worship God at home? Yes. If we neglect singing together, are we missing out on a part of worship God has called us to? Yes.
Corporate singing has been part of corporate worship for thousands of years. We see it in the Old Testament at the Tabernacle and Temple (I Chronicles 6:32). In the New Testament it is nothing different.
Not only are we told to sing with each other, but we are to sing to each other. Ephesians 5:15-19a says we are to be “addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs.”
There are times I don’t feel like singing or worshiping, and my Christian brothers and sisters hold me through. I hear them believing and owning their relationship with God and it stirs my heart greatly. It reminds me of Who God is, and what He can do when I’m struggling with those things. If I am singing with my local church, I hear it from believers who I am doing life with, and working together to become more like Christ with.
#2 Come for Christian Fellowship
Fellowship is different from friendship. Christian fellowship has Christ in common. I can build relationships online, but I can’t build the same ones in person. The people I worship with know me better, can see if I’m more cheerful than normal, downcast and sad, or maybe even in bitterness at that moment.
Christian fellowship exists to encourage us to continue to follow Christ. We meet regularly together, and “not neglecting to meet together” to be “encouraging one another” to continue to follow Christ (Hebrews 10:24-25). Many online can say they are something they are not. It is easier to assess and address each other face to face if we are regularly meeting together.
#3 Come to Take Communion
We meet together to take communion together. The irony of taking communion in an online church service should slap us in the face. Communion is “common” and “communal.” It means that we are together spiritually and physically. In fact the passage on communion in I Corinthians 11 says more than once, “when you come together (17, 33).”
#4 Come to Hear the Word Proclaimed
We live in an era in which we can access fantastic pastors, preachers, and scholars 24/7 and never run out of content. The problem is, while those online pastors may have excellent theology and are dynamic speakers, they don’t know you.
A local church provides a pastor who knows the context of the community and the congregation. Your pastor can minister the proper context of the Word to the proper context to the people. This is in part why several times we read that there should be a “public reading of Scripture (I Timothy 4:13).”
We should also note that public, live preaching does a better job at stirring our hearts. Not that the Word is devoid of power without it. But there is an emotional aspect of hearing live preaching. This is why when the author of Hebrews tells us to not neglect meeting together as a church he says so in part so we can “stir up one another to love and good works (Hebrews 4:24-25).” Public, live preaching can stir the heart better.
Do you see how coming to sing, fellowship, take communion together, and hear live preaching is different from an online gathering? What else do you think those who are “attending church” online are missing out on? Do we ask ourselves what is easy or what we prefer? What does God want when it comes to attending and being a part of a local church? Next week we will address reasons 5-8 in Part 2.
Thanks for taking time to read this Maddening Theology post. If you enjoyed this content you can find Pastor Tim’s sermons at www.cornerstoneforestcity.org. You can also join us at 520 Marion St. Browndale, PA 18421 on Sundays at 10 AM. To make following the blog easier you can also register. You can also join us on Facebook at Cornerstone Forest City. Also, don’t forget to download our APP on iTunes or Googleplay.