Ok, so this a thought that will encourage some, and aggravate others: One of the un-noticed byproducts of the past “Covid-year” is the gradual alteration of the very meaning of the word “Church.”
In the original language, the word for church is “ecclesia” and it literally means “Gathered together.” Sadly, a pandemic hit, and we have stopped the “gathering together” of what we know as Church. I’m thankful for online technology that allowed us to stream services when all public gatherings were stopped (check out clcdayton.com). However, we must realize and remind ourselves that this is a temporary fix.
There is something uniquely human about “presence.” There is an intangible, almost unexplainable dimension of being with someone “in person.” You can actually “feel” things like compassion, support, encouragement, joy, disappointment, and disagreement when you are in someone’s presence.
Such “feeling” is drastically diluted online. I’ve done zoom meetings, and even been part of zoom discipleship groups; while they are a good temporary replacement, and we at CLC (as most churches) are doing our best to “get good at online engagement,” I believe that nothing can replace “the real thing.”
The Bible reinforces the importance of being together. We read that God inhabits the praises of His people (Psalm 22:3, KJV), and that where two or three of us are gathered in Jesus’ name, He is “in our midst.” (Matthew 18: 20, NASB).
We are further instructed in Hebrews 10: 25 to “not forsake” our assembling together! The pastors I’ve spoken with share a common concern; when we get back to “sort of normal” (I don’t think we will ever go back to pre-covid February 2020), what will “Church” look like?
Many people may trade their favorite seat at church for permanently watching online with pajamas and coffee. Don’t settle for that.
Use your best judgement with good health-safety practices, but when you discern that it is “ok” to go back to church, go back to church. No online experience is better than being with friends who share your faith, hope and love.
Until then, find creative ways to “connect” with others…texts, calls, social media, and maybe even an old-fashioned hand-written note or two!