If we want to get everything we can from our church experience, we need to start by showing up in person.
That may seem obvious to most churchgoers, but there is a large and growing number of people who think that watching a service online is all the church they need.
And no, this is not always because of laziness or lack of spiritual passion.
In a growing number of cases, it’s because they’ve been hurt deeply, sometimes repeatedly by church people. Or they’ve grown tired of a church experience that doesn’t seem to grow deeper with them.
But they still have a passion to follow Jesus. So they stay at home and watch online or listen to podcasts.
So Many Good Reasons To Show Up
If what I’ve described sounds like your experience in any way, let me encourage you that, despite the downsides you’ve experienced, there are so many good reasons to go through the time and hassle of leaving your house and attending a church in person every week.
Yes, we are the church, whether we show up on Sunday or not, but the experience of going to church matters. By every indication, going helps the being.
First, because the Bible is clear that we need to.
Second, because it strengthens our faith to physically gather with other believers.
Third, because everyone takes time from their schedules for the things that matter to us. And the more often we take that time, the more important they become.
Fourth, because we can actually contribute when we’re in the room.
Now, here’s another reason. Actually five more reasons. Unlike online church, which only engages two of our senses (sight and sound) physically leaving home and showing up to be with other believers engages all five of our senses.
When all our senses are involved we learn more, engage more, enjoy more, contribute more and remember more.
I’m not against online church. Our church live streams and podcasts our services. And when I can’t physically be at a weekend church service, I watch online. So online church is real church – it’s just not enough church.
If we want to get everything we can from the church experience, we need to start by showing up. While there are aspects of our spiritual lives that can and should be done in solitude, lack of face-to-face, person-to-person connection with other believers will limit our spiritual growth.
The Limits Of Technology
In recent years, there’s been a pullback in our understanding of how far technology can take us. Even proficiency experts like Michael Hyatt are backing off from an all-digital experience for everyday tasks. As Erin Wildermuth wrote for Hyatt’s blog in The Science of Putting Pen to Paper, “when we engage across multiple sensations we are better able to tie things together, recall them later and, in short, learn.”