As church services begin to resume, some of us may feel reluctant to go back. One believer shares her thoughts—and mixed feelings about going back to church.
Beep! A message appeared on my phone: “Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, we are glad to inform you that the Sunday Service will resume weekly starting from 11 October (Sunday) at 945am.”
With the latest announcements that churches will be allowed to hold congregational services for up to 100 people, many churches have opened their doors for corporate worship, of course with safe distancing measures in place.
To be honest, I wasn’t too excited about this news. The commuting time I’ve saved from travelling to and from church has granted me true Sabbath rest. I’ve been enjoying the extended time with the Lord in praying, reading, and reflecting on His Word before joining the body of Christ in corporate worship online. And after service, the day stretches before me. I’ve been able to join an online Bible study with church mates, have a good lunch with my family, read a book, or engage in other activities that remind me of the Lord’s goodness—or just recharge for the week ahead.
Not only that, not going to church physically means that I can attend a Chinese church service with my pre-believing parents, who would otherwise not step into a church.
Perhaps you, too, share my mixed feelings about the reopening of churches. But I was reminded of three biblical truths about church that helped me process my feelings. Perhaps they’ll inspire you too:
1. God’s church is made up of God’s people
You also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. —1 Peter 2:5
The apostle Peter reminds us that believers are living stones within a spiritual house. Each of us is significant, and each has a purpose. The church is made up of you and me. And together, we are priests, interceding for others before God and representing God to others. Assembling with God’s people to sing, pray, observe the ordinances, and listen to the preaching of God’s Word can help reinforce this unity—something which online services may not do so well.
This doesn’t mean that online services are bad. For those who can’t make it to church physically every week, such as elderly folks and those who cannot leave the house for various reasons, livestreaming church services allows everyone to feel like a participating member of the body of Christ, wherever they are.
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2. Meeting helps us spur each other on
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 10:24-25
As Christians, we are called to encourage each other to persevere in our faith in Christ. The writer of Hebrews encourages believers to “not give up meeting together”, because the gathering of God’s people is a vital source of strength in helping us remain faithful to Christ.
When we neglect community life, our faith can become shaky as we forget the great truths about Christ that are meant to be repeated in church meetings. Of course, we can do this online, too. And given the current restriction of not being able to stay back after church service for fellowship, it can be difficult to encourage each other in love and good deeds. Whether we meet physically or online, let’s make every effort to help each other remain faithful to Christ.
3. Draw near to God in holy reverence
As you enter the house of God, keep your ears open and your mouth shut. It is evil to make mindless offerings to God. —Ecclesiastes 5:1
God is interested in our attitude as we come to Him in worship. The writer of Ecclesiastes reminds us that when we go to the house of God, we need to remember that it is God whose presence we are entering. We should be focused on listening to God’s Word (Ecclesiastes 5:1), not on being heard ourselves (v. 2).
Let’s stand in awe of God as we go before Him in worship every Sunday. Many churches have designed their premises to promote this sense of awe, so going back to church and worshipping Him with others can help us regain that perspective. But, if for various reasons we can’t do that and can only participate in corporate worship online, let’s get prepared for church and attending it in a reverent manner. That could mean getting out of our pajamas and finding a place where we can give the online service our full attention—without multitasking or being distracted.
When Church Re-opens
As churches prepare to restart services and ministries, we know church life may never be the same again. What should we keep, and what should we let go of?