I realize that COVID has led to changes in churches—including increased usage of online services, etc.—and I’m not opposed to these changes. On the other hand, I’ve increasingly realized why in-person attendance matters for me. Here are some of my thoughts:
- It’s good for us to be the people God created us to be: needing and loving Him and others. The point of Genesis 2:18 (“it’s not good for the man to be alone”) is not that all of us are to get married; it is that none of us is designed to be a “lone ranger” follower of Christ. God made us with a need to have others in our lives—including others with whom we worship.
- It’s good for us to provoke one another to love and good works—just as God commands us (Heb 10:24). I realize we can do that via phone or electronic means, but there’s still something unique about challenging each other face-to-face. Not neglecting gathering with other believers really does matter (Heb 10:25).
- It’s good to be with others who are trying to walk the same path. The spiritual battle is real for all of us, but none of us has to walk this road alone. Even though the church is hardly perfect, they’re still colleagues in this journey—and just seeing them in-person can be uplifting.
- It’s good to sing with God’s people. I love to sing as long as it’s not solo—so praising God with a group of people around me is encouraging and uplifting to me (that is, as long as the song is singable . . .). It’s tough to get that same experience online.
- It’s good to experience the freedom of in-person worship most of us have. I’ve been in places in the world where just a few people gathering was risky. When I gather in the States with hundreds of people, I do so without threat—at least for now.
- It’s good to show non-believers the power of worship. When God’s people truly encounter God in a worship setting, our response to Him is a witness to any non-believers (or even wandering believers) in the congregation. Even our expression of worship ought to point them to God.
- It’s good to encourage our pastors by our in-person attendance. I’m grateful the Internet allows us to extend our witness, but I’m most encouraged as a pastor by the faithfulness of God’s people in in-person attendance. Knowing they want to come together to worship, pray, and study the Word picks up my day every time.
- It’s good to model faithful attendance for our children. I assume we want our next generation to be faithful participants in the local church—and to raise our grandchildren likewise. If so, how we model attendance today can matter for generations.
What would you add to this list?