Myth #2: “I Can Just Watch Church Online” - 5 Myths That Keep Us From Church

Myth #2: “I Can Just Watch Church Online”

Most people would agree that COVID-19 has had a profound impact on our culture. The global pandemic has not only brought about unimaginable suffering, it has changed the way we think about every social interaction we have, including in schools and restaurants but also in church.

During the months when everything was shut down, when public gatherings were impossible, and people were “sheltering in place” in their homes, many churches quickly utilized the capacity to stream worship services and sermons over the Internet.

In many ways, this was a very good thing. Regular churchgoers continued to experience some sense of connection to their communities through virtual worship and the teaching of God’s Word. Handicapped and home-bound congregants were able to participate in services in ways that may not have been available before. And people interested in exploring Christianity could investigate faith from the distance and anonymity afforded by their own homes and devices. It’s possible that the reach of the gospel was extended more during those months than ever before!

But at the same time, there is something fundamentally different between what might be called “virtual church” and “in-person church.” Watching a worship service on a screen is simply not the same as being in the same space with a community of people in person.

Consider this description of the early church in Acts 2:42-47 (NLT):

All the believers devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, and to fellowship, and to sharing in meals (including the Lord’s Supper), and to prayer.

A deep sense of awe came over them all, and the apostles performed many miraculous signs and wonders. And all the believers met together in one place and shared everything they had. They sold their property and possessions and shared the money with those in need. They worshiped together at the Temple each day, met in homes for the Lord’s Supper, and shared their meals with great joy and generosity— all the while praising God and enjoying the goodwill of all the people. And each day the Lord added to their fellowship those who were being saved.

Notice the word “fellowship.” Notice phrases like, “All the believers met together in one place” and “They worshiped together . . . and shared their meals with great joy.” The imagery of community is intentional and visceral.

Yes, we can find sound biblical teaching by streaming a video of an online service. Yes, we can maintain a certain kind of connection to a church family through modern technology. But we cannot experience either “fellowship” or “together” through a screen.

What the Bible means by “fellowship” and what Jesus intends for his church can only happen when we are together.

From the Book: