When Covid-19 hit the United States early in 2020, many churches around the country were in panic mode. How would they gather? How would they sing and celebrate? How would they take the sacraments? How would they hear the word of God preached? Thankfully, as the church has always done, many churches throughout our country improvised in order that the church may be fed and equipped to live a life on mission in a broken world. As some Covid-19 restrictions are starting to lift, many pastors are facing a potentially fatal problem: will they want to come back? While many people have missed physically worshipping with God’s people, others have found it quite enjoyable to stay at home to not fight their kids and worship in their pajamas.
Sadly, many Christians are unaware of the detrimental effects of loosing their church family, at least physically loosing their church family. As we all know, digital connection is as real as porn is to sex—it offers the real experience but with significant shortcomings. As embodied souls, we need to be together. I need to hear your singing, I need to experience the dead silence of confession, I need to shaped alongside you by the word of God, I need to participate in the sacramental meal together—we need one another. Lest we forget, we are creatures who have bodies, senses, and experiential capacities.
While I want to extend an enormous amount of grace to Christians in this season, I also want to urge them to consider the necessity and importance of gathering together, even if it is inconvenient. It will always be easier to watch a service online, but will it be as profitable? Will it be as rich? Will it be as formational? Rather than let convenience drive our decisions, please allow the Scriptures to inform how we live, heeding the call of Hebrews 10:24-25, “ And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works,  not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.”
In the moments of greatest tragedy and trial, the church has been a refuge for those who are hurting and broken. I long for the churches across the world to function in the same capacity, inviting the weary and downtrodden to find hope and encouragement in Jesus. In this season, please take all the steps that are necessary for your safety. At the same time, please consider taking all the spiritual steps necessary for you soul to thrive and flourish.