We need to be careful.
And I am not just talking about the coronavirus.
Although we should be careful about that too.
I am talking about the way we view church, in light of all that we have to do in this time of social distancing.
Yes, we are blessed to be able to have online meetings and Bible studies.
Yes, we have technologies and capabilities unimagined by previous generations of Christians.
Yes, we should do as many of them as we can in this difficult time.
But, can we do church?
Can we call it church?
Think of it like this.
If you gathered with your buddies (or in my case my brothers) over the internet to play video games, would I say that we were together?
If you synced up with people and played an e-sports game online, would we say it is the same as being together to play a sport?
And I am not just talking about the physical nature of the sport.
There is something distinctive that happens when we are assembled.
Before the game.
In the dugout.
In front of the fans.
After the game.
Certain elements just cannot be replicated digitally.
And I am concerned that people are viewing the streaming of services as a replacement for church.
This is not to say that we shouldn’t stream biblical content from our church during this time.
My church is.
But I have been very careful not to call it church.
Too many people would already claim an online gathering in another city as their church.
Or any number of preachers on television.
And some of them are wonderful.
Some not so much.
But is watching a service online or on tv the same as going to church?
I don’t think it is.
I don’t think that works.
In the Bible, the church is the body gathered together.
For iron to sharpen iron.
For the pastor/elders to have accountability for the souls of their flock.
For encouragement to faith and good works.
This cannot happen, not really happen, unless we gather.
So, celebrate the technology.
Meet on Facebook and YouTube and wherever streaming is going on.
Participate in online studies.
But don’t think of it as a permanent replacement for church.
This is temporary.
It must be.
We will gather as churches again.
And we should long for the day we can.