I know the bible says Christians shouldn’t give up meeting together- but how are we supposed to do that when we’re not ALLOWED to meet? Does meeting online even count as church!?
From a screen-sick Christian.
Dear screen-sick Christian,
Honestly, I also feel like if I look at one more device, my brain might start melting! More and more gatherings are being restricted, and to care for people we need to stay home. But does staying home mean going against what the bible says about keeping on meeting together? With everything online, the thought of looking another screen on Sunday after a whole week working from home doesn’t really sound that appealing, even if it is for church. And should you even bother with online church, or is that not really church anyway?
The bible sees God’s people meeting together as pretty important. And even though meeting up in person will always be the ideal, and meeting online is a second best alternative, we should still do this! And this is because Christians aren’t just told to meet up so they don’t get bored on Sundays, or because they need a social life. Hebrew 12:23-25 says: “Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”
Christians are meant to keep meeting together to point each other to God, and how we are to live as his people- and to encourage each other in this as we remember that one day Jesus will return! The author of Hebrews sees meeting together to encourage each other as God’s people as being part of persevering as a Christian- so in tough times this can be even more important.
So, since gathering together as Christians is so important, how can we make the most of this at a time when we’re not allowed to meet together in person?
Firstly, make the most of online church. It can be tempting to just take it easy on the couch and eat breakfast while you tune in to the sermon, but you are unlikely to act that way if you were actually at church! Make sure you give yourself the best chance to get the most out of the sermon- even if you aren’t normally a note taker, find a journal or notebook to take notes to help you focus on what is being said- because watching something else on a screen after a long week of online uni could be tricky. If your church is continuing to include singing and music online, join in on this (even if it feels silly), or find a good Christian playlist on Spotify to listen to before the online sermon starts.
If your church isn’t able to do anything online, ask your friends from ES what their church is doing, and make the most of this opportunity to see what other churches around Adelaide are doing at this time!
Secondly, as well as hearing teaching from God’s word, church is about God’s people having fellowship: meeting together to encourage each other. Think of the people from your church that might be struggling at the moment, who you would normally check in on at church: your friends, that old couple who always sits in the front row, the family whose kids you look after in kids church. Reach out with an encouraging bible verse, or just to check in and see how they’re going, and if there’s anything you can do to help them out.
Thirdly, encourage your church leadership. Churches are going through a tough time right now and they’re also trying to adjust to a lot of fast-moving changes. Pray for your church and its leadership. But also take time to encourage them in what they are doing: if you have an email address for the church office or they have an online contact card, send an email through telling your pastor what you really enjoyed about that week’s service.
Finally, remember that alongside church, ES is a great place to keep meeting with your Christian brothers and sisters, even if we can only meet online at the moment. Connect with ES through Facebook, or join in one of our weekly events (you can find out more here on our website) to meet other Christians in the same situation as you, trying to adapt to the brave new world of online university and social isolation.
Even when we can’t meet up in person, Christians still need to make time to connect with each other because we don’t do this just because we’re lonely: we do this to encourage each other by pointing each other to Jesus. And doing this is just as important in times like this when things are changing so fast and we are under so much pressure. Meeting with other Christians in person will always be best: but in this situation where that isn’t an option, we should thank God for the technology we have to allow us to still see each other! So do not give up meeting together (even online), but keep encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the day approaching.
Grace & Peace,