Are We Losing Ground?

Author Ann Marie:
It has been reported that fewer and fewer people are attending church. The average church goer in the United States attends church 1.5 times per month. This reality was not lost on me as I watch a live streamed video of my pastor preaching at church last Sunday. Somehow, I just could not get out of bed. Part of the reason was because I had stayed up late the night before, aimlessly scrolling through social media, as well as working on legitimate assignments that were due the following week. This streaming of live church service is a God sent. I heard the moving message on prophecy, and I felt connected as the “Praise and Worship Team” sang in unison to the glory of our Lord That was what I thought until I heard him announced that it was time for the “Lord’s Supper,” and I then realized, I was not as connected to the service as first thought.

Hebrews 10:25 King James Version (KJV)

“Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.”

In that moment, the above indicated Scripture text was not lost. I realized that while there are some benefits to watching a live streamed video of a church service, there are also some disadvantages. As discussed previously in a “Blog Post,” the following are some benefits that are associated with streaming church or ministry services or activities:

Online services can give your ministry needed exposure for survival

– Online services can help small, not so financially equipped, ministries fulfill the “Great Commission”

-Online services can bring in the needed finances to keep ministries afloat

– Online services gives you a more diverse and larger audience

-Online services can serve as a source of encouragement to your members who may be sick and or shut-ins

-Online services can help parishioners on vacation stay in touch or up to date on what’s going on at church

-Online services can be a way for parishioners, who may have to work, to not miss Sunday services and weekly Bible study

-Online services can be an outreach tool for those who would not have attended church

-Online services can assist parishioners to engage in interaction with the global church, in order understand the diversity of   God’s kingdom, as well as meeting the needs of God’s church around the world.

Matthew 28:19 King James Version (KJV)

“Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: teaching them to observe all things, whatsoever I have commanded you.”

Here are some disadvantages that were listed by The Aspen Group in 2015:

  1. Does Not Foster a True Sense of Community

According to a recent article on Slate.com there is a growing trend of podcast church services, allowing anyone to “attend church” at any time. But the question lingers: Without the support and accountability of friends and peers surrounding you every week, is there really a community in digital services?

“Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much” (James 5:16, KJV).

Bird would argue that his online services offer a “digital community.” However, his streaming situation is somewhat unique in that virtual attendees are able to comment and interact during and after the service. Most podcasts, live-streams, and recorded messages do not offer the same opportunity for interactivity. By recording or streaming messages, some viewers may be isolated from the community that your church strives to create.

“For, brethren, you have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another” (Galatians 5: 13, KJV).

  1. Does Not Require Real Dedication

By offering church services online, you’re giving your congregation an opportunity to stay home instead of (going) to church that week. While this seems obvious, dedication and routine can be essential tools in developing the church community and furthering God’s mission through your church. Without dedication to attending a weekly service, most members will likely have little dedication to supporting the church and its mission both financially and spiritually. (http://www.aspengroup.com/blog/to-stream-or-not-to-stream-your-church-service)

“Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye steadfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, for as much as ye know that your labor is not in vain in the Lord” (1 Corinthians 15:58).

For me, missing the Lord’s Supper made me realize that there need to be a balance. Streaming services were not meant to replace church attendance, especially for some random excuse that should not have prevented my physical presence in the church pew. I also lost the opportunity to connect with fellow believers who maybe in need of an encouraging word, or two, that I could have offered. I also missed the opportunity to be encouraged by others, as well.

Streaming church services is great, but it shouldn’t be used as a tool to isolate ourselves from other believers. It should, however, be used as an instrument to enhance our learning experience and help us to connect with fellow believers who are not able to connect with us, due to legitimate physical limitations. This includes the physical distance of others who may want to experience the fellowship of believers that is not otherwise possible. This balance should enable churches/ministries to gain ground for Christ, not lose ground.

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