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Online Church vs. In Person Worship

Someone recently asked me what the difference is between watching church online and attending in person. Does it really matter if we physically attend or can we get our Sunday fix via a live stream?

This has really become a hot topic ever since Covid stepped in and altered the way people choose to worship. For almost a year, we were kept at bay from our usual church houses, and for many of us, that meant tuning in to a live stream from somewhere advanced enough to have their worship already set up for home viewers.

Inadvertently (or maybe not), what this "safety step" also did was give people an excuse to stay home and not make church attendance a priority. Once we begin placing convenience over commitment, we start down a slippery slope until it is too easy not to watch at all.

So, why is in-person worship important? Let's look at some of the main reasons:

  1. First, God commanded it. The writer of Hebrews stated it this way in Hebrews 10:25 when he said, "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." In other words, we are to come together regularly so we may be an encouragement to one another. The world is a difficult, dark, nasty place and we need other believers to pray with us, to hold us accountable, to develop godly friendships, etc.

  2. Second, church attendance teaches us how to work with, love, serve, and get along with other believers. Let's face it, people are people. Whether we are in a secular work place or at church, people have their own opinions, ways of doing things, and sinful natures. In a church setting, however, we learn to work as one the hands and feet of Jesus. We grow in our love for one another, learn to forgive, and strive to be the bride of Christ--a picture of Christ's love--to those who are spiritually lost and separated from God. (1 John 4:12; Hebrews 3:13; Galatians 5:13, etc.)

  3. Third, we learn what our spiritual gifts are and are given opportunity to use those gifts to further the Kingdom work. Every believer is given at least one spiritual gift. Some are teachers, some pastors, some encouragers, others have the gifts of mercy or hospitality. There are a lot of different gifts and when we come together, we learn what ours are and have opportunity to use them within the church body. (Ephesians 4:11-13; Romans 12:6; 1 Corinthians 12)

In conclusion, though online worship served its purpose for awhile, and still serves for those who physically cannot leave their home, the rest of us are called to get into the habit of attending church regularly.

If you are not currently attending church, I would encourage you to begin making plans today for where you will attend this Sunday. Do your homework. Not every church is created equal. Not every church is living true to God's Word. Know what they believe and what they are supporting. Find one you can get behind and serve well within. You'll be glad you took that step.




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