Recliner-Christians: Is Online Worship, Wise?
Why do I need to go back to church? These online services are meeting my spiritual needs.
Your question is on the minds of many believers these days, clergy and laity alike.
The Devil’s attack on the world through Covid-19 produced a sensible closure of most churches during a season of safety. We stepped back, assessed our situation, sanitized our contaminated structures or habits…then hopefully re-opened our doors to the gathering of the saints with our safety measures in place. Surely by now our churches are thriving enclaves of Christ, nearly back to normal, once again.
Yet, while we were closed, pastors of every ilk learned how to keep the pulpit aflame via recorded messages on cells phones, video cameras and computers. We broadcasted our recorded sermons over the internet in any venue available and our members stayed safe while we preached to empty sanctuaries. But a terrible thing happened that church leaders hoped would never occur: the saints got comfortable attending services in their pajamas. After the Church re-opened, the pews sat empty as the reclining worshipers watched online at home. “This is great!” they quipped, munching breakfast in front of the TV. “I’m not missing a thing! I can even watch it on my own time!” And the Consumer-Christian was born.
What is a Consumer-Christian? These are believers who view their faith participation through the lens of what they get, instead of what they give. They “consume” church services; the preaching, the music, announcements and children’s programs as if these acts of worship were a show designed to entertain them. They fail to use what is imparted into their hearts, minds and souls to give back to the Kingdom—to serve, volunteer, encourage and gather as a participating member of the Body of Christ. Consumer-Christians say, “What’s in it for me?” instead of “What can I do to help?”
Jesus said, “If you love me, keep my commandments” (John 14:15, NASB1995.) Christians, at a very basic level, are required to observe the Ten Commandments, written by God and given to Moses as the foundation of the Jewish and Christian faiths (Exodus 31.) The fourth commandment requires God’s people to observe the Sabbath on church-day; a day of rest from our labors (Exodus 20.) While the recliner-set observes their Sabbath time virtually, they are neglecting a critical component of Christianity: the gathering of the saints. No, it is not one of the Ten Commandments. But it is the subject of severe admonishment by the Apostle Paul as he addressed his congregations: “Some people have gotten out of the habit of meeting for worship, but we must not do that. We should keep on encouraging each other, especially since you know that the day of the Lord’s coming is getting closer” (Hebrews 10:25, CEV.) Certainly no one would argue that our Ten Commandments are the only I-beams in our faith-walk. We must observe the whole of God’s word. We are therefore commanded to gather together by the greatest pastor who ever lived; Apostle Paul.
There is a thing called synergy. Synergy is defined this way: “The interaction of elements that when combined produce a total effect that is greater than the sum of the individual elements” (dictionary.com, 2021.) In common English this means we are better together. Christians are stronger, wiser, more powerful and more attuned to the whispers of the Holy Spirit when we experience the synergy of the gathering of Christians. Synergy says one person can lift 100 pounds, yet two people lifting together are able to lift 300, not 200. The Bible assures us of supernatural math, “..one may chase a thousand but two can put ten-thousand to flight” (Deuteronomy 32:30, NASB.) That scripture is about battles and enemies: when God is involved in a group of gathered believers, their power toward victory over the enemy increases dramatically.
Don’t be left behind and in danger. A sheep left outside the flock is easy prey for the wolf. As a pastor I suggest you return to your church and join the synergy of the saints. You are needed there. You may one day find that you need them, too.
Do you have a question or comment for Pastor Adrienne? Send your inquiries to: firstname.lastname@example.org or write to P.O. Box 214, Harrison, OH 45030. For more information and booking, please visit: www.adriennewgreene.com