Some have been doing it for years, but for most of us, participating in church around a computer in our family room is a new endeavor. At best, it’s a completely different experience. At worst, it’s a challenge that makes us wonder if it’s worth doing at all.
During the last week in March, 7 million people attended church online. Those are pretty impressive numbers, given that a “regular” church attender goes less than 1.5 times a month. And while it may be tough to engage in a worship service via computer, as Christians we need to look at the overall impact to not just the body of believers, but the world in which we live.
Is it possible that the livestreaming of services has opened up the church to a greater number of people? The long-term effects remain to be seen, but here are some potential pluses we are already observing:
- Those who simply didn’t want to go to church now have a much easier way to attend. Sitting on your couch, coffee in hand and dog on your lap, isn’t a bad way to hear the Word and sing along to praise music.
- Fewer distractions mean greater focus. It’s easy to notice everyone in the room and to get lost in thought as you take in your surroundings. When livestreaming, however, there’s something about having to focus on the pastor’s face as he or she is preaching that brings about sharper focus. You may find yourself getting more out of the message when it’s not being filtered through coughs, baby’s cries, or the whispers of the people sitting behind you.
- Those who would have never had the nerve to step into a church can now test the waters online. Yes, online churches have been around for years, but the new attention to the livestreaming format and the media coverage of the change has placed this front and center. Take away the intimidation factor of walking into a church full of strangers, and non-church goers are more likely to give Sunday worship a try.
- Churches can reach anyone anywhere. Daniel Fusco, lead pastor of Crossroads Community Church in Vancouver, Washington, said of livestreaming, “We’ve found it to be an enormous feeder for evangelism.” Makes sense, since local churches may not appeal, causing Christians to“give up” on church attendance entirely. This way, one can attend a church that speaks to them and nurtures their faith, even if that church is thousands of miles away.
Finally, the virus, coupled with livestreaming, have combined to create heartier Christians. According to an April, 2020, poll, 19 percent of Americans say their faith has strengthened in recent months. Hardship tends to do that, as it reminds us of our need for God and reminds us to turn to Him for all things. That’s more convenient than ever with the livestream experience.
So if you are feeling disconnected or have lost touch with God during this time, put your computer to its best possible use. The service may be virtual, but the support it provides will help keep your relationship with Him 100 percent real.