In March this year, some of us all over the world had to close our church due to strict government lockdown, some of us closed our doors in the name of wisdom. Now that we start opening again in an uncertain world where we can have limited seating many people claim and sadly pastors too, the online church is the future. In fact many claims it might be the solution for many of the churches problem
But is it? Is it genuinely practical, Is it effective, and most important is it biblical?
Effectiveness of online Church by the Numbers
According to The Barna Research Group, online attendance was it’s it highest during Easter, after that, it started to fluctuate, in the last couple of months, it was even lower(20%-30%) than before COVID-19. In another study among Practicing Christian, 85% admitted to multitasking during the service.
Even amongst millennials before COVID 19 says they prefer to have online service then in Person. (only 30% would like to have online services)
My question is if the numbers are down, why do we want to continue with something that doesn’t work?
Online church is simply unpractical.
Let the first start by saying that it does have a place, I travel a lot and in Mexico, most of our church service is at night. I do watch churches online and to a small degree, it does bless me. And it does bless many people when they travel they can watch their church service online or when someone is sicked and can’t make it to church.
One of the reasons why CrossFit is so popular and why it works is because people are exercising together. They encourage each other, learn from each other, and there is comradery. I can tell you from first-hand experience it is way easier to stick to my diet when I did CrossFit in a class, simply because I had other people with me doing the same thing.
In Ephesian 5 Paul commands the church the encourage each other and build each other up with spiritual songs. I have said it in the past and will say again when I preached and share my testimony what God have done it does build people up. but in many people’s minds, they will say you are a pastor or a foreigner. But when a normal member of the church shares their testimony, people start to think if God can do it for him he can do it for me.
The Bible says that we have to love our brother and sister in the Lord, how can I love them when I am at home? How can I encourage them? Social media will only help you a little bit. Many people were doing well mentally in the first few weeks but after that Zoom and Skype just don’t cut.
Hebrews 10:24-25 (NKJV Strong's) And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, 25 not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.
The Word assembly here is different then ekklesia, episynagoge means to come together one place to worship. it specifically refers to a place of worship or building. so this can’t be you and your family.
If we regularly only visited online church and not meet up with our Christian brother and sister are we sinning?
Through the book acts you will see, especially when they meet in large groups of people the Holy Spirit moved and people came to Jesus.
An Important question is, how are we as pastors know the state of sheep if we don’t meet with them and don’t see them? How will we know they don’t attend church when it is online?
What are we going to do if the church disapproves our message
Then there is the issue speaking against promiscuity, even when we do it in a godly manner and in Love, many people consider it as hate speech. Or do we simply not preach about that? So we don’t lose our online platform
Recently the Chief Justice of South Africa spoke on a podcast where he mentioned that because of his Christian beliefs he prays for Israel and Palestine, he loves both the people groups and wants them to have peace. Some of the government ministers spoke against him and he is currently facing a disciplinary hearing because of him praying for Israel 🇮🇱.
If we as the church think the cancel culture will stop at politics we make a serious mistake. Currently, in the United States, the church enjoys protection under the current administration.
What does it mean to have church?
The word church in the Bible is ekklesia, it is not a spiritual word but a political word. It’s is also used in Acts 19:32 when Demetrius caused a stir in Ephesus and took Gaius and Aristarchus to the amphitheater. The Bible says the Assembly (ekklesia) didn’t know why they were there. The modern-day equivalent is a City Council or congress(parliament)
The Assembly is qualified people that are called out to make decisions that affect their community! A church should affect their community.
What do we do in trying times?
Timothy 2:2 (NKJV Strong's) And the things that you have heard from me among many witnesses, commit these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.2
Many pastors don’t spend time training leadership or spending time with a possible new leader. It both his letters to Timothy, Paul focused on appointing faithful people.
2 Timothy 1:7 (NKJV Strong's) For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.
The background context with this Scripture is Nero started to persecute the church. Paul said to Timothy to not fear and appoint faithful people, that teaches same principles (biblical Principles) to other. In this context people that will be faithful until death.
If we can’t come together in a large building we still can come together in small groups. Some places where we didn’t have the police all-overs us we had homegroups. and no one was affected by COVID19
The early church were very creative especially during times of persecution, they meet in caves, barns maybe we should get more creative!
What do you think is the solution for church during this trying times?