Why go to church, when we have the internet?

hand on mouse

Yesterday, I had lots of housework to do (it often happens in a 6-person family). I turned on my computer and streamed some worship music while I stacked the dishwasher. I had the house to myself, so I turned up the speakers and sang my heart out as I worked. I had space to focus on God without feeling self-conscious.

Next, I downloaded a sermon to listen to while folding an enormous pile of laundry that had somehow accumulated. It was pretty good, actually. The housework helped me stay focused and alert, more than I often am while sitting still and listening to one person talk. I was even able to pause the podcast, to cross-check a couple of points on my Bible app. I wouldn’t be able to do that in church.

This raises a question. Most churches offer a weekly opportunity for singing and a sermon and call it “church”. Why can’t I call my online experience yesterday “church”? Seriously, why can’t I?

PLEASE NOTE: For those who didn’t pick it up, this article is ironic. I do NOT believe we can experience “church” in isolation. The very concept is at odds with the biblical description of church. I am trying to point out that what is offered in many church services is also at odds with the biblical description of church. -Kathleen

14 thoughts on “Why go to church, when we have the internet?

  1. This is so true,
    however we are conditioned to worship together, as St. Paul points out, do not forget to meet together. So where is the sweet spot?
    bless you.

  2. I am so glad you shared your experience. I have a similar experience in many ways and many places during the day, as I work, I travel, I wash dishes, etc. We need to personally enjoy the Lord and inhale Him, breathe Him in, have a personal time with Him, and be saturated with God. Personally, we NEED this.

    But the personal contact with the Lord cannot and should not replace the meeting with the other believers, just as meeting with the saints cannot and should not replace the personal touch with the Lord and a time with Him in His Word. The Lord we worship is the Head of the Body, and the life we enjoy flowing from Him is the life of the Body of Christ – if we really enjoy Him and touch Him, we will be eager to and full of yearning for meeting with other believers to share the riches of Christ we enjoyed in our time with Him!

    And…. NO, we don’t go to church, just as I don’t “go to my family” – I AM PART OF MY FAMILY, and WE ARE THE CHURCH. As long as we stand on the ground of oneness in the locality where we meet, as long as we are in oneness with Christ AND with all the believers in the locality we meet, as long as we have fellowship in the Body of Christ and accept all the believers that call on Him out of a pure heart, as long as we are in the sweet fellowship not only locally but also with other localities and countries, we ARE the church. We don’t “go to church” 🙁 and… the church is NOT “on the internet”.

    And one more thing. Just as the joy and exercise of a member of my body (the stomach, the fingers as I type, the nose as I breathe, etc) is actually the exercise and joy of ALL my body, so your enjoyment of Christ in His presence is the enjoyment and joy of ALL the other members of the Body, provided you are intimately connected to Christ as the Head and to the immediate members of the Body the Lord has placed you with! Our personal enjoyment of Christ is for the building up of the Body and is + should be an experience in and of the Body of Christ.

    • Stefan, I really liked/appreciated/agreed with this, “And…. NO, we don’t go to church, just as I don’t “go to my family” – I AM PART OF MY FAMILY, and WE ARE THE CHURCH.”

  3. Siegried, I completely agree – we should not give up meeting together. That’s why I strongly hope churches begin to see the current format of singing + sermon is not quite hitting the mark. I’d love to see more participatory, interactive, communal forms of meeting together, even in larger congregations.

    Stefan, Amen! We are the Church, we are the Body. The ways we meet should reflect this. Also, I heard some good news on my Twitter feed – congratulations to you both! 😉

    – Kathleen

  4. As with the other comments, relationships are the Church. We achieve our empowered identity through interpersonal relationships. We support each other as Jesus emphasized in Matt 19: 28 – 30

  5. First, I am new to reading your blog and am enjoying it. I pastor a church that sits in rows, but agree with much of what you say. Connection and ministering to one another has too often been forgotten in the modern American church.

    Now to Your question…I believe that God’s presence is uniquely powerful when a local church assembles. Sure, we can listen to sermons, pray, discuss, eat bread and drink wine when we aren’t assembled, but these things cannot have the same importance, value, and power as when God is powerfully with us. It is He who takes a speech and makes it a sermon. It is He who turns a simple song into powerful praise. It is He who turns mere words of prayer into a real interaction with the living God. And, it is He who turns a conversation about God into words that bring encouragement, exhortation, and life.

    I wrote a blog series explaining why I believe that God is uniquely present in the midst of the assembled church. If you are curious, I would be honored to have you read it. The first post is introductory, so I’ll link to the second 1 http://www.CreeksideBibleChurch.org/DefiningChurch2 .

    • Thanks for your comments, Chad – nice to connect with you. I hope you’ve read enough of my blog posts to realise I strongly believe in the need for connection in our gatherings – this latest post was very tongue-in-cheek.

      I had a wander over to your blog and enjoyed reading it. You seem to have a teacher’s heart. Like you, I believe that God is uniquely present in the midst of the assembled church – but I think some of our traditions can stifle our ability to hear his Spirit talking to us as a connected body.

      Blessings in your ministry,

      – Kathleen

      • Kathleen, it is also nice to connect with you. I didn’t know it was fully tongue-in-cheek, but have read enough to know you weren’t pushing for an end of Christian assembly.

        While I’m sure we differ on how church should look (your newest post on doing away with sermons was…um…it…uh…made my blood boil a bit), I couldn’t agree more with the idea that “some of our traditions can stifle our ability to hear his Spirit talking to us as a connected body.” This is one of the reasons I appreciate your writing so much.

        Thanks for checking out my blog. I look forward to more interaction. God bless.

        • Sorry to make your blood boil – I hope it only boiled a little. 😉

          Thanks for bearing with me. I’m sure some of our thoughts will cross paths.

          – Kathleen

  6. In the NT, the word church means a gathering or an assembly. The word congregation means a group of people congregated together. So the accent is on meeting with other people – singing (sometimes called “worship”) and sermons are not necessarily part of that, we have just made it so.

    So by straying home you probably got all that you would have received (and given!) at a “normal” church and you got it better, but neither there not at home could you really experience the full fellowship and gifts of the Spirit.

  7. There seems to be a common theme in the comments. You all seem to agree that relationships, connection and ministering to one another are key to “church”.

    Why, then, aren’t our local church services designed to facilitate these processes?

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