How do you answer a question like that without sounding… strange?
To the world, “Church” could mean the church building or the gathering of believers within those same buildings. These people meet to “sing Hallelujah” or pray to their god who listens to those prayers. If it pleases their god, he will answer those prayers and grant their wishes through some miracle. Well, that’s how I thought of church when I was an unbeliever many many years ago.
Now that I have been a believer for over 30 years, the answer does not come any easier. While most believers know the Church is not just a building, many see meeting together as an important representation. “Going to church” has changed from going to a place to going to an event. Some may call it a Church Service, but the connotation is that of an activity you take part in. Is church just a collection of activities and events? That don’t sound right either.
To combat the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic, governments have instituted a temporary ban on large gatherings of people. Churches have responded by asking their members to stay away and attend the church service via live-streaming instead. I have attended a few of these online Church Services over the weekends. While the experience of it seemed a little… strange, I felt the online services were OK. Honestly though (and I’m about to confess ), it was more than OK. For someone like me, who has not been attending live Church Service regularly, it was amazing. I’m sure someone will be asking me: if it was that good, why did you not attend more regularly? Let me try to answer that, but in a future post (sorry)
Justin Bieber Invites 130 Million fans to Online Church Service
Last weekend, Justin Bieber sent out an invitation to his 130 million Instagram followers. He invited them to attend a live-stream church service with him led by his Pastor, Judah Smith [source]. While some of his fans may not believe in the message, Justin hoped that they would still enjoy listening to the story of Jesus. He also mentioned that “Everyone’s on their own journey, their own faith journey.” and that it’s OK to not believe (yet).
No matter the response, the impact of such an invite cannot be dismissed. What impressed me most is the graciousness in his ‘invite’ and the lack of any judgement that non-believers often associate with the word “Church” these days. For those who attended the service, they would have heard Pastor Judah Smith preach how “[Jesus] grants us forgiveness and a right relationship with our creator forever and ever without end.” That church is not a place where you find judgement for your ill behaviour, but healing for your broken relationships with those that matter to you most.
So how are you feeling about your church taking services online?
For someone who faithfully attends church, I would imagine that staying at home will seem strange, and even uncomfortable. That is the feeling of being pushed out of your comfort zone, making you question the meaning behind the activities. Some whose motivations are external and lies with others may find it liberating to not have to attend church. For those serving in ministries directly involved in running these church services (some of whom I know personally), it would have been a challenging time learning, acquiring, setting up and informing the church about the new way Church Services will be conducted. (Hey, God sees your hard work.)
(This last part is for believers.) No matter how you might feel about this ‘new normal’ because of the pandemic, you have to agree with this. God is in control and God has allowed it to happen; And if you know God at all, something good is about to happen because of it.
“Now those who were scattered after the persecution that arose over Stephen traveled as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus, and Antioch, preaching the word to no one but the Jews only. But some of them were men from Cyprus and Cyrene, who, when they had come to Antioch, spoke to the Hellenists, preaching the Lord Jesus. And the hand of the Lord was with them, and a great number believed and turned to the Lord.” – Acts 11:19-21