We’ve all heard of people who stay home and watch a television preacher, but they won’t attend church. I’m sure there are as many different reasons for doing so as there are people who do it. And some of those reasons are certainly legitimate (health reasons, for instance).
Our church provides internet streaming of our main service, and we can track of the number of views we get from week to week. While it’s a great tool for people wanting to learn more about our church before they step in the doors, and for those who are ill or invalid, it was never meant to replace the actual assembly of church goers.
And I don’t think it ever will.
We all know that church is important. It’s part of God’s plan. Just study the book of Acts and see how God blessed and grew the church in its infancy. The Scripture further provides instruction that we are to assemble as the church (Hebrews 10:25). Even during the darkest eras of human history, God has sustained and preserved His church. Truly, not even “the gates of hell can prevail” against the church (Matthew 16:18).
Here’s the thing. A church service was never intended to merely be “viewed.” Church is who we are and what we do. A church service isn’t a performance that’s “put on” for a group of spectators or an audience. A church service is an opportunity for you, me, all of us, to offer our corporate worship to God. Church enables me to be a part of a group of believers who are faithful to the clear commands of Scripture, which include singing Christian music, and preaching of the Word of God, among other things. It would be difficult to teach, admonish, and sing with “one another” (Colossians 3:16) without an assembly of believers.
Further, attending church enables us to fulfill our rolls in the body of believers. You have a part. All of us do. God has gifted each of us with unique gifts and ministries, and He wants us to use them. (Study 1 Corinthians 12:4-7 and 1 Peter 4:10.) Your gift might allow you to serve in front of people (prominent), or behind the scenes (background), but Scripture teaches that even though some ministries might appear more significant, the truth is, they are all equally important (study all of 1 Corinthians chapter 12).
Why do we show up to church on Sunday? To be actively involved. To pray, to receive, to serve, to give, and to respond.
We can be thankful for all the technology which enables church services to be streamed directly into our homes for those occasions they are necessary. We can be even more thankful for the opportunity and privilege it is to attend a local church and be physically present and a part of a vibrant, biblical assembly of believers. May the heart of the psalmist be our heart: “Praise ye the Lord. I will praise the Lord with my whole heart, in the assembly of the upright, and in the congregation” (Psalm 111:1)