We were very fortunate, because of the foresight of Aaron Crabtree, to have an online presence for worship that was in place BEFORE March of 2020 and the pandemic. There has not been a day go by since March of 2020 that I have not given thanks for the online platforms we have (Facebook Live, Madison Christian Church website, Madison Christian Church app, Apple TV, and Roku) and the amazing work that people do in our technical booth. (Aaron, Scott, Barb, Ramona, Stephan) Online church has given us a vital connection to many people throughout this COVID struggle, and we would in deep trouble without that,
So, I want to be clear. First, I am deeply grateful for online worship. Then, I also want to be clear that I respect the decisions that individuals have made regarding whether they attend worship online or in-person. What I am about to say is meant reflect no judgement on or shaming of those that have chosen to worship online.
There are some things you can’t do online. What you clearly can do is to absorb content online. It is a very effective way to deliver content. You might even make the case that the content is better online because of the clarity of the HD picture, the lyrics to songs being so pronounced, or that quality of sound.
Here is my point: Church is about more that absorbing content. Church is also about connection and community. Just as multiple studies are demonstrating that students need to be in school for in-person instruction in order to have the best educational experience, I believe we could demonstrate that believers need to be together in worship to be part of connection and community.
What you can’t do online:
- Smile at each other.
- Shake hands. (Or in this era, fist bump or elbow bump.)
- Put your arm around someone’s shoulder and offer encouragement.
- Use the God-given gift of touch to comfort and re-affirm the value of people.
- Hug someone.
- Lay hands on someone and pray for them.
- Whisper words of encouragement in someone’s ear.
The list of things that can be included on this list is really much longer, but you get the point. We need each other. We need to be in connection and community.
My prayer is that when the dust settles on the COVID-19 pandemic – one of the first things you plan to do is return to in-person worship services. It will be our privilege to greet you and welcome you warmly.