“Do you want to go to church this morning?”
My husband looked at me over a steaming mug of coffee, still in his pajamas and with a bit of bedhead to complete his comfortable look.
The truth was I looked much the same. Our youngest three kids — the ones still living at home — were still in bed after staying up a little too late the night before. I didn’t mind. I savored these quiet, uninterrupted early morning moments on the family room sofa with my husband.
He looked at me, waiting for my answer. It shouldn’t have been difficult to give him one. From the time I was less than a year old, Sundays have been church days. Up until 2020, I could count on my two hands the number of weeks when I wasn’t in a church.
But then a global pandemic, followed by fear and uncertainty. Then, the doors of restaurants, schools, and churches closed, sealing our isolation. What we thought would be a few weeks turned into a few months and then more than a year. And before I knew it, my lifelong Sunday church practice turned into a new habit:
Watching church rather than going to one.
Before I go any further, I think it’s important to clarify a few things. First, I’m deeply grateful that I live in a time when it’s possible to worship with others who love Jesus whether they live on the other side of town or the other side of the world. From March 2020 until now, the internet and the extraordinary talents of individuals made it possible for my family to weekly listen to pastors teach from God’s Word and to sing in our family room together without putting our health at risk.
Second, church doesn’t require a building, nor does it only count on Sundays. In fact, a perfect church attendance record is neither a badge of honor nor a means of salvation. You and I don’t need to cross the threshold of a steepled church building every Sunday to keep God from getting angry or to secure His love. “Nothing can separate you from the love of God,” Romans 8 states. And that includes church on a Wednesday or no church building at all.
And yet, there is something about being a part of a Jesus-loving community that is important. And I’m learning, after months of attending church on a sixty-inch television screen, that although the internet can deliver good preaching and inspiring music, it can’t deliver the same connection and relationship that happens when you and I share the same space face-to-face. And isn’t that what church is all about anyway?
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.
Hebrews 10:23-25 (NIV)
It’s now been many months since our church reopened its doors. And although we’ve attended in person several times, too often we opt for the ease and comfort of church in our family room. And today I feel the gentle conviction of the Spirit.
Perhaps what we need most right now is not more “ease” or the comfort of home but the irreplaceable gift of community — something we’ve not had nearly enough of in the last eighteen months. And something that is going to require a measure of intentionality to reconnect with. It requires effort to build a new habit.
You may have any one of a number of good reasons to attend church from your family room. Some of you are bedridden or housebound. Others of you are caregivers or lack transportation. My words are not an attempt to deliver shame or guilt. I celebrate with you that the gospel is now more accessible than it’s ever been. In so many ways, it is an extraordinary gift.
But for those of us who have slipped into a habit of checking church off our list in the easiest way possible, maybe now is a good time to remember why church came about in the first place:
We were never meant to walk this life of faith alone. We need each other. And whether we gather in a building, a house, or over the internet, church must be more than something we watch. We need it to be a relationship we share — with Jesus and each other.
All the more as we see the Day approaching.Leave a Comment