The Habit of Gathering

24 And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, 25 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.” Hebrews 10:24-25

It’s hard to believe that our last time physically gathering together as a church family for corporate worship was on March 15, almost four months ago. During that time, we’ve adjusted our normal Sunday routines, and many have found that it can even be quite comfortable watching a worship service while lying in bed or lounging on a couch. Showers, makeup, and other basic hygiene are now optional. No commutes. Packing up kids and diaper bags with enough snacks to sustain them for several hours is no longer necessary. There are a lot of benefits to streaming church. So, as we plan and work diligently to make worshiping together as safe as possible, you might be asking the question if doing so is all that important. Just the efficiencies alone seem to be a compelling reason to disregard the Lord’s command to ‘not neglect to meet together’. Of course, the mere fact that the Scripture tells us this should be reason enough and end the discussion but graciously there are other good reasons that go beyond the divine ‘because I told you so’. Let me share a few with you.

Meeting Provides an Opportunity to Inspire and Encourage One Another
As good as live streaming is, the communication is only one way. You see the people on stage, but they can’t see you. There’s viewership but no relationship. The gathering of the church for corporate worship was intended to be a time when our interactions propelled one another to live more faithfully to the Lord. Sharing your stories in serendipitous conversations can’t happen on your couch.

Meeting Provides an Opportunity to Minister to One Another
The gathering for corporate worship was intended to be a place where a multitude of gifts and talents could come together for the building up of the church. If you’re sitting at home just watching, no one is benefiting from what you can bring to the church. ROCK and youth teachers are not able to use their gifts. People with hospitality gifts are sidelined.

Meeting Keeps us Engaged
Watching a live stream where no one sees you gives you the anonymity to get up during the service to forage for food in the refrigerator or multitask by exercising, cooking, cleaning, etc. Distracting side conversations more easily happen even while worshiping God or hearing from His word. The sacred space for worship doesn’t feel much different than watching a movie on Netflix.  

Meeting Challenges our Priorities
Watching a service at home is appealing because it is convenient. This reinforces the sin of self-centeredness. Worship should never be about our convenience but about the One we worship. The cost of getting up earlier, getting ready, packing up kids, and driving is a tangible expression that God is worth it all. This by no means suggests that these minor costs should be compared to costs that many brothers and sisters pay to worship the Lord in closed countries, nevertheless, they still express that God deserves our best.

Meeting Provides Space for the Holy Spirit to Move
When were gathered, a Holy Spirit moment can turn a conversation into a prayer meeting. A new friendship can begin just by talking with someone you’ve never met before. These spontaneous moments of Holy Spirit orchestrated encounters bring richness to our gatherings and a sense that God is surely among us.

Once we open our services, I realize that not everyone will be able to physically participate. Space limitation, health consideration, and no children’s ministry will be prohibitive. But my hope is that you would want to because you know the value of worshiping together and that you’ll join in as soon as possible.

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