Did you miss in-person church services? Or, if you’re like me, are you still missing in-person church services? Although some, like the famous Grace Community Church, are flouting the law and having indoor services, the vast majority are not.
The church I go to just recently started having outdoor services. But even then, some people are encouraged to not attend. People like me because of my age, I tend to develop pneumonia rather easily, and I’m in “active surveillance” with cancer.
With all that, if you’re missing in-person church services, you’re not alone. The question though is how much are you missing them?
Online church service
We’ve had online services since the very first week of the stay-at-home orders here in California. Those first few weeks were a challenge, but we’ve come a long way since then. We upgraded equipment and internet speeds. Added security. Now we run all our small groups, life groups and Bible studies online as well.
I can do things with my online class that I can’t do in person, thanks to the ability to prepare things at home and share multiple logical screens from my iMac as we go. For instance, when a question comes up, I can just switch to a screen with an eBible, Hebrew or Greek definitions, Etc. to show everyone. After working in IT for 35+ years, it’s very cool to be able to do this.
But – it’s still not in-person.
Without in-person service, what’s missing?
So what’s missing? Obviously, there are differences. For me, this isn’t any different from how I used to work. For the younger people, it’s not too foreign either. For others though, who for various reasons aren’t used to technology, it’s harder. Some are getting used to it, but others won’t even try.
And I get the fact that we can’t hug or even shake hands. Even for someone who used to be a total loner, I get that.
I remember when someone asked my wife if she and I could be greeters, many years ago. She asked me, and I really didn’t want to do it. She said she’d be right there, so it would be OK. I agreed to try. But I told her – “Don’t leave me. Don’t leave me alone!”
Sure enough, a few minutes after people started to arrive, she went off with someone to help them with something. I was alone. For what seemed like a really long time.
But you know what? I survived. We did it again. And again. It wasn’t that long before I looked forward to it. I mean, how can you not smile and feel good when all those smiling people are coming up the steps waiting to say good morning to the greeters?
I kept doing it, right up to the time I took over the Sunday morning adult Bible study.
So yeah – I get it.
But still – what’s missing and why?
So my question isn’t just what’s missing, but why are we missing it? And why are we missing it?
To that end, a related question is – have you ever taken a good look at Lamentations? Yeah – that book of sorrow and grief in the Old Testament that we probably hate to read. But we should. And we should read it carefully.
It’s a book of hope. It looks at the grief, sorrow, mourning of Israel when they were defeated and went into exile. But it also looks into details way beyond just the mourning.
It looks at loneliness because of what happened, the cause of what happened, the purpose behind what happened, and confessions related to what happened.
Did you miss in-person church services?
If you’re like so many people and you missed, or still miss, in-person services, I invite you to check out a series I’m doing on this lack of in-person church services and Lamentations.
There will undoubtedly be some tough analysis to do along the way, but ultimately, like Lamentations, there is hope for us. Hope from a God that won’t leave us as orphans and already has a place for us in His house.
Part 1, the introduction, is available at Mourning over the loss of in-person church services.
I’ll post here as subsequent parts are available.