I haven’t been to church in over a year. I watch every week, and sometimes I’ll watch two or three services (my church in Birmingham, my church in Tennessee and my brother’s church sometimes, too). But apart from one or two times of going to church when I went to see my parents, I stopped going to church when the pandemic started and I haven’t started going again.
At first, it was mandatory. Churches weren’t meeting in person. I was watching online and doing what everyone else was doing.
Then, as churches were starting to meet again, I assumed the older generation would be the ones showing up. And I didn’t want to put those people in danger. While I was cautious, I was still going to work, going out to eat, going grocery shopping, just interacting with others in general. I also was probably a bit more tech-savvy than them and was more comfortable watching church on TV (or Facebook Live).
And then it just started to be more convenient. I could watch church on any day. It freed up my Sunday morning. I’ll also add that I struggle a bit with social anxiety, and going to church alone and trying to find my friends to sit with causes me a lot of stress.
When I go to church with my family, I’m okay because we drive together, we walk in together, we find a seat together. I’m not wandering around looking for someone I know or sitting alone wondering what others are thinking of me (which, in reality, is probably absolutely nothing).
But back to the point.
It was a lot more convenient for me to just watch church at home instead of having to stress over who I would meet up with at church and how that would go.
A week ago, I went to Knoxville to visit my brother along with my parents. My brother has also mostly been watching church online instead of attending in person, but my parents have been going since their church opened back up. We went to my brother’s church that Sunday morning and afterwards my dad stressed how important he believes going to church in person really is. And he’s right.
The Bible stresses the importance of gathering with other believers. And where better to do that than at church, worshipping together each week. While I do think there are a lot of benefits to putting church services online (especially during the time we weren’t able to gather together in an effort to keep everyone safe), I think it caused a hindrance to me when it came to worshipping with others. I felt a disconnect. So I’m ready to get back to going to church with the body of Christ.
“Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. … And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near” (Heb. 10:19-22, 24-25).
“For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them” (Matt. 18:20).