Livestreaming Sunday Service Isn’t Church
I was tremendously encouraged by our gathering last Sunday. We sang, heard testimonies, heard Pastor Jesse proclaim the gospel, visited, and saw saints admitted into Christ’s church by means of baptism and church membership. Jesus told us some 2,000 years ago, “I will build my church” (Matt 16:18). That is what we saw last Sunday.
What made our time so sweet was that we haven’t had this fellowship in some time. In light of COVID, we’ve been separated from each other. We temporarily didn’t gather as a church. We haven’t had our planned congregational meetings. We’ve talked to each other on the phone and tuned in via livestream, but we haven’t gathered.
Our fellowship reminded me that, while livestreaming is a tremendous blessing (it allows us to watch the service again, tune in when we are sick or traveling), viewing a Sunday service is not the same as gathering as a church. At its essence, church is the physical assembly of believers—it requires in-person gathering. This is what Jesus means in Matt 18:20; what Paul assumes in 1 Cor 5:4, 11:17, 14:23, and 14:26; and what the author of Hebrews assumes in Heb 10:25.
The elders understand that there are those who, for medical reasons, still need to stay home to protect themselves or those they care for. We encourage you to follow your conscience and wise counsel on when to return. And we will continue to do our best to stay connected with you.
Nevertheless, as COVID cases decline and immunization increases, we need remember the importance of the physical gathering. If your reasons for staying home on Sunday morning are convenience and comfort, we encourage you to join us in-person. There’s no substitute for the in-person gathering. “Virtual church” is like “jumbo shrimp.” It’s an oxymoron. It doesn’t make sense. To be a church, we must physically gather.