Did you know that it is becoming commonplace to only attend a service at a church building once a month? With the growth of online technologies, the greatest communicators available at your fingertips and over-scheduled calendars, it’s not a surprise that the moral obligation to be at church has waned a bit.
So what is church online, and what is it not? Here are some thoughts.
Church Online is the easiest way to invite someone to visit a service.
It doesn’t matter who you are. Visiting a new church is intimidating, even a welcoming church. It’s like a free preview into what the church is like. There is no traffic and getting ready. It is simply worship and the word in a safe environment you are used to. To someone who is afraid of setting foot inside a church.
In fact, online church is a great way to start a neighborhood campus at your house, work or travel sports team. It’s a portable church.
If there has been someone who has been turning down your invitation, time and time again, Church Online is a great way to go.
It is NOT the same thing.
There are some that might think, “What’s the difference? I go there and stand in a dark room, listen to music and listen to speaking. I can do that from home.” And for the most part you’d be right. The one thing you are missing is “the body.”
Matthew 18:20 says, “For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.”
Hebrews 10:25-27 says, “25 Don’t stop meeting together with other believers, which some people have gotten into the habit of doing. Instead, encourage each other, especially as you see the day drawing near.”
In short. There is a move of the Holy Spirit that takes place when you are in a room of redeemed believers that are praising and worship Jesus. It is something that cannot be duplicated. Though God is present everywhere and you can certainly worship alone. When you leave the distractions, get ready to specifically go to a place of worship and then enter in, there is no substitute for what can happen.
It IS community for the isolated
What I don’t buy is the idea that you cannot have community online. Online communities are built everyday. Many people are sick, work on Sundays or immobile. Some people simply are too far away and love the church. Some people have been away from church so long, they feel they cannot come back.
For these people, online community is essential. On Church Online, we have online hosts that help you feel connected to the service. We have an NorthStar Online Facebook group that exists purely to encourage and pray for those that join. We have started online small groups. These resources exist to provide people who have no one to share, explore or experience faith with an outlet. For many it will be there first step back into a biblical community that leads to a closer relationship with Christ.
It is NOT an Excuse
Whether you are at the physical location or at church online, you have the opportunity to be a spectator. You can go to the building, not talk to anyone, listen to the message and leave. You can do the same thing online. Turn it online, do not chat with anyone, choose not to make yourself known and never get involved with the mission of the church.Where the church can be a very encouraging place to gain wisdom and healing, you cannot stay there. The hope is that you will accept the grace Jesus provides, start following and get involved.Attending church is not the end and it is easily done online and in a church building. There are volunteer opportunities online and offline. There is a place for you if you are willing to jump in.
It IS a mission field.
Doing anything knew can be a little scary but the internet is available in over 42 percent of the world. People are online over 24 hours in a week. The amount of time the church has to influence unbelievers and dis-engaged believers is staggering.It is not limited by location, space or time. Its is completely portable and for many will be the first engagement they have with a church.
It is a tool to reach people who are not going to come to a church. The bigger question is: how are you going to use it in your life?
Are you going to be a spectator or are you going to enter in?
More than the question “should you attend online?” the question is “Are you growing?” If you are growing, you will begin to learn more about the heart of God and your heart will start molding into that. If you don’t think that is happening, then start any setting that you feel will act as a catalyst for your spiritual growth and be honest with yourself. Jesus is everywhere and the lost and disengaged are everywhere. How will you use it?