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James C. Jones
Taylorville Christian Church
The pandemic affected us all in so many powerful ways that it is almost difficult to count them all, but most church leaders will gladly tell you that it affected church life in ways that we are still working to understand. What I know is that virtually every church has fewer people in the building on a Sunday morning in 2022 than it did in 2019. That fact grieves many pastors and other church leaders, and we are still learning to grapple with it.
This struggle over decreased numbers has led many Christians to long for an end to live streamed worship services, and I completely understand that sentiment. We long for people to be back in the building. We long to see people that we have not seen for many months.
We long to worship together. And many Christians have a sense that if we just stop live streaming services, people will feel like they have to come back to church. My guess is that the people watching live streams will simply look for another church that continues to live stream. Plus, most Christians would agree that the live stream is a good tool for people in declining health to feel a connection to a church that they attended for years or even decades.
Regardless of how individuals feel about the live streamed service, what I know is that even with the very best online presence, a church cannot create connections that exist when Christians gather in the same room for worship. Worshiping together should be transformative. It matters that the Christian community chooses to gather in the same place to bring their praise to the God who created and sustains all life and offers salvation to each human being.
With that said, I want to encourage Christians throughout our community to gather with their churches. I’m not offering a commercial to invite people to attend the church that I pastor. I’m calling you to worship with your community of faith. If you’ve been away since the pandemic kept us all apart for a time, I guarantee those people still miss you. They want you in the room because it is simply not the same without you. They need you, and you need them.