A minister I know recently vented his frustration with people staying home and doing Church online. He stated that it was not Church and might even be unbiblical.
The problem with his line of reasoning was that he did not understand the nature of the Church using the internet. Unfortunately, many other people are making the same mistake, and I want to address this issue today.
First, we need to be clear that the internet is simply a tool. This is the same as the Church using printed materials, projection screens, and even buildings. We live in a time where there are more tools to be used by God’s people than ever before. The internet is one of those tools we can leverage for the Lord’s work.
Second, the goal for Christian leaders is always the same. We are called to help develop people into fully mature disciples of Jesus. Part of the discipleship process is connecting believers into a community we call the Church. These goals are inseparable for people who take their faith seriously. Jesus told his followers to make disciples of all nations, baptizing them and teaching them to obey everything he commanded. His commands include loving one another in the name of the Jesus we serve. This is best accomplished as a community. This is why the next book in the Bible after the story of Jesus is the book of Acts that tells how the first believers worked together to form this new group called a Church.
Three, using a particular tool does not change the goal but enhances it. The Church owns a building to make it easier for people to gather for worship, serve, learn, and provide the various ministries needed in its setting. The goal is not to get people into a building but to see them become fully mature disciples of Jesus, and we use the facility to accomplish it. The same is true with the use of the internet. The goal is not to have you sit in front of a screen at specified times. It is not used to form a group of people we call an “online Church.” The people of faith are merely trying to use another tool to help people become all that God desires for them as individuals and as a community.
This week, if you start watching a worship program, a sermon, or someone teaching the Bible, you need to understand that it is not Church. That is something the Church is using to make you more like Jesus.