The following article is was published in The News Tribune (Tacoma) on Sunday, June 20. It is part two of my two-part series about worship in a post-pandemic era. To God be the glory!
Does a Christian have to go to worship? In my June 6 article, I posed this question and then two inferred questions from it, (1) Does a Christian have to worship (which I answered on June 6), and now today, (2) Does a Christian have to go to worship.
Wait a second pastor, it sounds like you are just repeating the question. Yes and no. The difference today is whether a Christian has to go somewhere, to a particular place, and worship corporately with other Christians, in-person. So that is what I am going to address today.
For over a year now, the pandemic has forced churches to get creative and to step outside the box (i.e online worship). It has forced pastors and leaders to learn new skills (i.e how to live stream). It has forced congregations to invest in new technologies (i.e. video cameras). And now, as we appear to be on the back side of this pandemic, we are asking the question, “What now?” How do we do church in a post-pandemic period? What is the new normal? As more and more people get vaccinated, I am seeing more and more people begin to return to in-person worship, but not everyone. Some are still leery which I respect. Some still have questions.
There was no question that at the beginning of this pandemic stepping away from in-person activities was prudent, for a time, but it was never supposed to be the norm, nor should it. As creatures, God designed us to be in communion with one another. We are relational and online cannot satisfy the communal nature God gifted us with. There are indeed exceptions to the rule (i.e. health, distance), but online should never be the norm if you are able to be present. You see, it is within the body of believers that one another’s praises are heard and compounded with ours. It is with others that sins are confessed, and absolution is received. It is with brothers and sisters in Christ that we are held accountable. Separated by distance and protected by a computer screen, it is too easy to hide and thus conceal sins.
We are not made to be apart. As the body of Christ, we are made to be together, building each other up. When you are separated from the body of believers, the body of believers no longer benefit from the Spiritual gifts God has given you. Your gifts were meant to be used and expressed with others. Your love for God is meant to be shared and meant to be seen by others. Yes, I get that this pandemic is scary, but our God is bigger. It is time for the Church to reunite and get to know one another again. It is time to face these challenges together. It is time to exert ourselves and march into battle together, carrying the banner of victory that God won through Jesus Christ.
Does a Christian have to GO TO worship? My prayer for you is that (if you are physically able) you will want to in order to magnify God’s glory in this world. To God be the glory, always and forever, Amen.