Disclaimer: This is not an “anti-on-line worship” article. The pandemic has caused plenty of extremely faithful people to stay home and participate in only on-line worship. Neither is this an anti-governmental control, “give me liberty or give me death” piece. The following is an attempt to present the dangers of an only on-line worship experience. Read on:
Five Dangers for Online Only Worshipers
1.Minimizing local church involvement damages one’s faith.
Yes, there are better on-line worship experiences than what your home church produces. Yes, there are better singers, better preachers (Obviously, this refers to those who do NOT attend Flint Central Church. Snicker. Snicker), and more tech savvy churches than the one you attend. Your church may be low tech (formerly no tech), your praise team may sing off key, your preacher rambles, and there’s many other reasons to not watch your church service (There are reports that 40% of stay-at-home church people are NOT viewing their local church’s livestream). Faith destruction begins by turning away from your local church.
What is missed in your local connection? Prayer requests regarding people you know. Your pastor bringing the Bible to life for your local context. Singers you know and regularly see praising Jesus. The local church is the body of Christ in your context. There is no substitute. Simply watching another service from somewhere else, will diminish the draw and participation in your local body. A lack of local connection damages your faith.
2 A lack of local church connection leads to a lack of interest in the local needs.
People need to associate with one another. The on-line worshipper must find ways to connect to their local body of believers before a disengagement and disinterest sets in. If one doesn’t know the needs and pray for the needs, the next step is “doesn’t care about the needs.” The cliché as it relates to in-person worship experience should be, “Absence doesn’t make the heart grow fonder, absence makes the only on-line-worshipper’s eyes, mind and life wander.”
Taking the initiative to stay connected to the local body means calling, texting or sending notes not simply one’s stay-at-home friends in the local body but to the tired, lonely and fall-through-the-cracks people as the Lord brings them to mind. It takes an effort to stay connected to the whole body, but it’s essential for one’s faith.
3. Overexposure to media (social and otherwise) damages one’s faith.
Look around. See those who were formerly zealous for the Lord, who are now inspired by their favorite on-line influencers. Now they are zealous for political parties, social movements and a brand of Christianity where Jesus is a condiment to one’s faith and not the center of one’s faith.
Turn off the TV and stay off your phone. Tithe (at a minimum) your media engagement with time in God’s word. For every hour spent viewing media, spend (at least 6 minutes) in the Bible. It’s not a lot, but it’s a start.
4. Speaking of tithing, continue to give to one’s local church.
A bank statement is a spiritual document. Where one invests their money that is where their heart is (didn’t someone famous in the Bible state this same concept?) The first sign of faithlessness is a lack of commitment financially to the local church.
5. On-line only worshippers miss the opportunity to serve.
Faithfulness and discipleship must involve active service. Stay-at-home orders and only on-line viewing leads to being a spectator rather than an active participant in faith. Spectators may cheer, but they are not where the action is or in the game. Spectator faith leads to no faith.
Don’t be a spectator only. Serve your neighborhood. Take cookies to a neighbor. Give a note to your local mail carrier. Pray for ways to serve in your context. Staying-at-home worship minus service is a sure way to fade from your faith.
On-line worship may be our current reality, but don’t allow it to diminish your faith.