Lately, I’ve been sewing face masks for our church van outreach that’s being planned, and with this quiet time I’m having, there are some thoughts that I just would like to share. With the quick spread of Covid-19, our health officials have advised everyone to be careful, thus limiting social activities, staying home as much as possible, etc., and governments around the world have implemented necessary measures to make sure people do their part in preventing the spread of the virus. In this situation, church buildings find themselves relatively empty, and pastors and church staff around the world are doing their best to host online services for their members.
And on that note, church members (or should I say “Christians”) find themselves sitting in front of a TV or whatever gadget you happen to have, worshipping with others who are also watching the services like you’re doing. That is not altogether wrong, and I’m glad we’re able to do these things with the technology that we have now. (*) I’m not judging anyone who’s ‘attending’ online services, because I do the same thing—my husband and I sit in the living room, with our Bibles and notepads ready, and we watch every online service our church does during this time that we can’t physically be ‘in church.’
So what’s my point? I don’t really have one.
I just wanted to tell you a story.
The first time I sat in our living room to watch our church’s online service, I was thinking, “This is not the first time I’ve had to have church at home.” It wasn’t because of government prohibiting gatherings. And it wasn’t because I was sick either. Growing up in a miltary family that was always on the move, having to do ‘church at home’ became pretty familiar. One main reason was that we couldn’t find a solid Bible-believing church in the area. (Mission area idea, anyone?)
We had church at home.
How did that work? Saturday night, my dad would let us know what time we would start our ‘service’ the next morning so we would have time to plan for the next day, the day most Christians schedule as ‘go-to-church day.’ We would wake up with plenty of time to have breakfast together, and get dressed for the day. We dressed in our Sunday clothes, fixed our hair, put our nice shoes on, even though we never left the house that day. Usually by 8:30 in the morning, Dad would tell me to start playing the piano, or if we didn’t have one where we were, he would just start singing from a hymnal that we would always have wherever we’d go. Then we’d sing as much songs as we could, or at least until what seemed like ‘I-can-feel-my-throat-get-scratchy.’ Buuuut, that was a lot of fun! Then we’d stop singing, and my dad would start asking each of us what we were thankful for. Sometimes mine would be the most basic things, sometimes I felt like not giving a praise, but I would always end up with something to thank God for. After a time of praising, we would pray, either led by Dad or my brother, and then Dad would share what God laid in his heart. Sometimes less than an hour, sometimes more, but they were all blessings. He would preach and teach as if there were more people than just his family in the room. I personally think it was the Holy Spirit working in him. I kept notes as faithfully as I would if we were with a church, and my brother would try to do the same. And like she would do at church, my mom would occasionally ‘give us a look’ if it seemed like our minds were off somewhere else and not paying attention. Afterwards, after our ‘closing’ prayer, we would scramble to help prepare Sunday lunch. Or we would go out to eat. We did this during the times we didn’t have a church to go to. Eventually, other Christians who were also looking for a church joined us, and we had good fellowship. And food.
But why am I sharing this with you? I truly believe that worshipping with other believers is a must, but what if you only have your family, or you’re alone? This is when we realize that worshipping God is not confined in church, not scheduled to a few hours a week, not dependent on others to lead you. It comes from a heart that truly has the desire to give God praise, and He is all the more glorified if we do it more often during the week. But in light of the current situation that we’re in, I’d like to encourage you to set your mind, even the day before, to worship and ‘attend’ the services online. Pray for the pastors who have to look at a camera instead of your faces; only the Lord knows how hard it is for them to communicate God’s word with you and you’re not there. Pray for the musicians and those that lead in singing; from a musician’s perspective, it’s a lot easier when you hear others making music for the Lord too. Pray for the other brethren who also have to stay home; it’s a challenge to keep your focus in the service when you’re in your comfort zone and nobody else sees you. Set your alarm so you wake up with a purpose. Prepare your body—have breakfast and get dressed to worship. I honestly think there is less chance for us to get distracted if our we would have taken care of ourselves first. And just as most of us get dressed for specific purposes, you might also want to dress up for the ‘service.’ Close your eyes and pray when they pray. Sing when they sing, even if you don’t think you sound good. Take notes, turn the pages of your Bible, and try to get as much as you can. Then if you can, have a chat with others about what you learnt. Trust me, God will bless your efforts.
Worship God at all times.
(*) Please do not think I’m against online services. I truly appreciate the effort all the pastors make to share what God has laid in their heart, and I love being able to sing with the brethren that are leading the worship songs. If you are one of those who make these possible, whether in front of the camera or behind the scenes, I thank you, I thank God for you and for giving you the ability to do these things. It’s not easy, but the services have been huge blessings.