Another blogger opined that since the millenials (ages from about 18 years old to 30 years old), don’t go to church and use their computers, almost exclusively, for socializing, that we should have “on-line” church.
I’m not opposed to putting worship on-line. We have plans for doing that here at First St Johns. Sure there are people out there who we should be reaching and need to be included in church and, for whatever reason, cannot attend brick and mortar churches. I get it.
The problem is this, how much do you really encourage this growing dependence on using a computer for “fellowship”. A great deal of being in church is to fellowship, is to show support and be a part of something bigger. We already have way too many people who huddle away in some part of their house, all by themselves and genuinely think they have a lot of “friends”, that is the Face Book, Twitter, Snapchat, type friends. Sorry but this is, in no way, shape or form a healthy trend. How do you baptize someone on line? How do they receive the Body and Blood of Jesus? On-line confession and absolution? No, that’s just a phoney way out. How do you really build relationships on line? You don’t!
Being a part of the Body of Christ is being with a group of people who have shared beliefs and shared doctrine in Jesus. Please don’t hand me the lame line that it’s all about “love”, first off, how do you really “love” on-line? Ya, there are those who do. Look me in the face and tell me that’s healthy.
You need that contact with people, we encourage each other, strengthen each other, learn from each other, often help in material ways. Sorry, but I’m not going to jump through hoops for someone who can’t even schlep down to worship on a regular basis, who could otherwise. I’ve had people try it on me. Ya, no! Go to the big-box churches, if you will settle for the illusion of worship and fellowship. Otherwise drag yourself down to First St Johns.
In some ways it’s like saying that it’s the same as being at Fenway Park, being part of the crowd, having it all in front of you, being able to personally booh the Yankees. You can sit at home and listen on the radio, but who you going to fuss at when Papi grounds out in the shift?
But really, being in, sharing with, showing support of worship has always been what is a fundamental part of being a Christian. It’s not just what you benefit from, but often what you do in order to help others. How about the elderly man or woman in the pew in front of you. Quite often, their only genuine human contact is church. To those of you who are children, young man or woman, the 20 something family with the little boy and girl. I really want you to realize that you give real joy and encouragement to others around you who have very little contact with younger people, who often only see people in their own age group. Are you away from your family, but you’d still like your children to have a whole bunch of spiritual grandparents, aunts, uncles? Take ’em to church, your cup will overfloweth.
The person who is going through some kind of crisis and who comes to church to share, maybe he’s led there by the Holy Spirit in order to be in front of you who can readily help. Seriously where is that in the rest of our society?
It’s tough enough being a Christian in today’s world. For the people who are out in the work force and hardly ever encounter a fellow Christian. For the mom at home who often has little adult contact and also, not often with another Christian. Children who need real contact with other kids their age who are Christians. The world is not a friendly place to Christians. Where are you going to get that contact, that encouragement, that strength to carry on? On-line? No! You’re just not and you know it. It’s truly sad to imagine how many people thought they could see the world through their computer and because they had no one else, no other Christian to be there for them that they lost hope in the Holy Spirit which is only truly efficacious when they share with other Christians.They forgot about the promise of Jesus, because the guy who stands with them at the altar to receive the Lord’s Supper, isn’t beside you, because you’re not there.
The writer of Hebrews directs: “ESV Hebrews 10:24 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.” (Bibleworks) Certainly we see “the Day drawing near.” How can you show brotherly love over the computer, really? How can you show Christian hospitality. All the virtues that are being lived out in Christian worship, will simply not be obvious.
I have this posted on First St Johns FB page: “WORSHIP – Rekindles our hope, reenlists us for service, renews our confidence, restores our perspective, restores our joy, releases our anxieties, reconnects us with God.” I would add that sitting at home, simply reminds us how sad our life has become and not only does not equip us with those benefits, but reminds us how far away we are. That is not going to give us the hope and promise of Jesus, but sink us into further despair and make us feel even more distant from Jesus.
And since I’m riding this hobby horse, I would also like to point out that the opposite is true. You can sit at home and be isolated, and you can also sit in a big crowd and be isolated. Want to talk to the pastor? Yea, good luck with that. These “big box” pastors have more important things to do than make house calls or hospital calls to give you personal attention. Everybody around you, they’re there for the same reason you are, to hide in the open. They’re not interested in you, they’re only interested in what they want. Jesus did the first two plus years of ministry among groups and very much in the public. He didn’t hide away, he was right there in the middle of people. Not some new-age big screen television, talk about “Big Brother”. In a smaller congregation you build those relationships, I’ve only been a pastor for just less than five years. In my first twenty or so years as a Christian I probably have, at least, a half dozen each spiritual mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters and pastors that I have had the opportunity to grow in Christian love with. Ya, tell me you’re going to get that at home on the computer or at the “big box”. Find a smaller, vibrant, liturgical, Bible believing, truly Christian church. You want growth, encouragement, strength for the journey, joy, service, confidence, connections, being in God’s presence with serious believers. It’s churches like First St Johns that will provide it. The “millenials” are all hung up on authenticity, being genuine and then hide at home instead of being where it’s at? And that goes for more than just the twenty-somethings. Try really being genuine and authentic. Put the phones and ipads etc away and get with real people. Otherwise, you should just put a cork in it, because you have no clue what genuine authenticity it.