Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching. (Hebrews 10:25, NIV 1984).
My Musings – “Let us not give up meeting together.”
- “As some are in the habit of doing.” It used to be that church attendance statistics were tracked based on weekly attendance. Now they are tracked by at least monthly. Clearly, regular church attendance is not given the priority that it once was given. Covid-19 has only contributed to the decline. One in three “practicing” Christians have stopped attending church during COVID-19 (Barna), which begs the question — now that the flock is scattering what will be the “new normal” after the pandemic? A recent survey found that fewer than half (48 percent) of religiously affiliated Americans who attended services before the COVID-19 outbreak say they would definitely or probably attend religious services even if public health officials deemed it safe. (Nationscape).
- “All the more as you see the Day approaching.” Absent a meaningful revival, the pre-pandemic decline is likely to worsen. Here is a sentiment that is making the rounds. “I believe churches are meant for praising God, but so are 5am bus rides, and 5 mile walks. I believe churches are meant for praising God, but so are 30 mile bike rides, and sitting alone with nature. I believe churches are meant for praising God, but so is dining out at a small local diner, and a Food Truck Park. Don’t let your faith be confined by 4 walls because you will never change the world by just attending Sunday service. You need to be the church.” (Kiril Kundurazieff).
The reality is, we cannot be the Church in isolation and solitude. While it is true that God can be praised and worshipped in many different settings, they are not a substitution for “meeting together.” They are not a substitute because there is much more to meeting together than just praise and worship. There is fellowship, accountability, learning discipleship from one another, giving and receiving encouragement, to name just a few.
By the same token, we should not stop being the Church when we leave the “4 walls.” We are indeed called to “change the world” by being His “witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” (Acts 1:8, NIV 1984). It is not either or. It is both — coming together (as the body) and going out (as ambassadors).
My Advice – There are valid reasons for praising and worshipping God virtually during the outbreak — health concerns top the list. But the “convenience” of continuing to do so after the health concerns are over should not be used to rationalize forsake assembling together. If for no other reason than we definitely can “see the Day approaching.”
Consider the following modern day fable. I learned during Covid-19 that I can just as easily visit with family and friends via Zoom and texting than doing so in-person. There is no reason to go back to those inconvenient visits after the pandemic is over, without missing out on relationships. Kind of absurd, isn’t it?