In 2020 the church at large was faced with an extremely difficult dilemma. COVID and the recommendation of the experts pressed us into our homes. For many Christians this wasn’t so awful seeing they could attend church via livestream. In a survey completed just prior to the concerns of COVID one question asked, “Worshiping alone or with one’s family is a valid replacement for regularly attending church.” The results, over half, that is, 58% “somewhat agreed” or “strongly agreed”. COVID, therefore, became a justifiable reason for the majority to worship alone. Add to this, those that had comorbidities and the elderly, that group of people that were more susceptible to great health risks from COVID and the percentage of people that possibly stayed home from church is staggering.
As things begin to open up more, based upon recommendations from the experts, the dilemma for most churches remain. Many that stayed home remain at home. My concern isn’t the specific cases in which have cause for at-home worship, but for those that don’t have cause for at-home worship.
Simply put, God did not ordain the church for its individual members to worship alone, nor simply to have family worship. Of course, we are to worship alone, we are to lead our families in worship, but God ordained the church to have fellowship, communion, by the gathering of the members of His body together in one. We see in Revelation this is God’s purpose with the nations and we see in Ephesians 1 that God will gather together in one all things. Thus, we walk worthy of that now.
The church is where we go –
1) To be edified in sound doctrine,
2) To teach others in psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs,
3) To join in corporate prayer
4) To edify other in love, that is, provoke one another to love and good works,
5) Help, serve, and volunteer to do the work of the ministry,
6) Be refreshed and encouraged by the saints.
All to often, Christians stay home or go to church for selfish reasons.
“Someone said something to me that offended me, so I am not going to go anymore.”
“I will go to church if I get enough fellowship with people, but if I don’t and I just get a bunch of teaching that isn’t the church for me.”
Yet, we never ask ourselves, what does God want us to get from the local church and what are we to give to the local church? The American Church is a self-seeking, gotta-have-it-my-way, entertainment diet instead of Bible diet kind of church. Speaking plainly, this is the Corinthian church, a glorified country club. So are you going to church? Are you loving others at church? Are you feeding yourself at church?
All too many forsake the gathering together of the believers. Here we have believers not wanting to be around other believers, don’t like the personality of the teacher, think that the teaching is too long or too short, don’t get enough fellowship, doesn’t have the right program. Many believers are dependent upon the grace of God working in others, but won’t allow the grace of God to work in them to help the ministry, to get involved, but sit on the grace given to them and bury it in the earth at home. Yet, Christ died for us to go to church! We should want to go to church. Where else can we go to have an eternal perspective, not on the political news outlets, not on the infested waters of darkness of social media. Where else can you go to have others love you with an heavenly love, not at country clubs, parks, the cities, but church. I fear that too many believers are getting wrapped up in this world and not being built up to the point where they are givers and not just receivers. I hear the echoes of my own heart, “but I don’t want to go, because I have been hurt too many times.” God never guaranteed us we were not going to hurt by other believers. Yet, every opportunity to get hurt is an occassion to forgive, to love, to live peacably, to be humbled, to put on display Christ in you. Are we not quenching the Spirit when we fail to go to church for such selfish and worldly psychological reasons? Many believers are still babes in Christ always needing the laying up for them by the parents, that is, the mature believers of the church, not knowing or refusing to grow up themselves for the profit of all. If there has ever been a time to awake, today is the day!
The church isn’t a building it is a bunch of called out people from the world that are to assemble. Are you assembling together? God put much into the church, the blood of His own Son, do you love the household of faith? After a long period of time of no exercise we may need to stretch, warm-up, and push through any tightness, but overall the bodily exercise is worth it. If bodily exercise profits a little and godliness much more for it is profitable unto all things for this life and that which is to come then we should exercise ourselves unto godliness all the more – church being the core place for the assembling of believers.
I share this not as a correction toward anyone, but in view of the survey I read and the possibility of COVID’s jetlag to renew our minds about the grand privilege by Christ’s own blood to gather together, commune, fellowship, and become more like-minded one to another. O, glory! I love you all and cannot wait to see you all again each and every week!
I know many are in a situation that they don’t have a grace church in their area. I have such sympathy and empathy for you. For those of us that do we ought to be filled with gratitude and not take advantage of it. Yet, for those that don’t such sentimental measurements go only so far. We have members at TCGF that spend as much time in a car traveling to get to church than at church. They with others have become ensamples to the rest of us that distance is not a worthy enough cause to not fellowship with their body. Livestreaming is good, but there is no substitute for the excellency of the communion of the body of Christ in assembling together. Don’t get comfortable not experiencing what you don’t know or not experiencing what your called to! Maybe its time to start a church, maybe its time to move – that decision is up to you, but is it even a decision you need to make? I know what I would do, what will you do? I know I am going to church this week!
Josh Strelecki, Pastor-Teacher