I think I caused a little confusion when I mentioned that Truth For Life is going to discontinue the livestream of Parkside’s Sunday morning service. I hasten to add that the livestream will continue to be available on Parkside’s website. Our reason for this change is that Truth For Life is committed to the ministry of the local church, and we regard our role as supplemental to the hard work of the local pastor. I am a pastor, and my concern, along with my colleagues, is for the flock under our care. We want to do nothing that would hinder the work taking place Sunday by Sunday in local congregations.
The reason for our decision lies in the growing number of listeners who, by their testimony, are growing quite comfortable with a digital experience. Life has changed dramatically during the last year, and changes that initially felt temporary are beginning to become settled patterns. A year ago, most of us thought that “Zooming” was something that happened in an open-top car. Now our family rooms have become venues for our virtual church experiences. Let me hasten to say that we recognize the difference between convenience and the necessary and valuable benefit of online church for those who are housebound either temporarily or on a long-term basis. It is a special privilege to stream the service and to be welcomed into your homes.
My concern is with those who are forsaking their local gathering for the comfortable option of the spiritual equivalent of DoorDash and Uber Eats. These unusual days provide us with an opportunity to examine what we understand and believe about the local church. The English word church translates the Greek word ekklesia, which means “the called out together.” Sometimes in our Communion service, we remind ourselves of the wonder of having been given new life in Jesus and having been made members of God’s family. We sing, “We’re the people of God, called by His name, called from the dark and delivered from shame, one holy race, saints every one, because of the blood of Christ Jesus, the Son.” None of our natural families are perfect, but they are where we belong and where we should want to be. Zoom calls with my son, daughter-in-law, and new grandson are fine but a poor substitute for being in each other’s company. We should feel the same way about our church families.
We have yet to see what things will look like when everything returns to normal. Will there be a resurgence of commitment to the gathering of God’s people, or will the COVID habits have taken hold? Moms and dads must take the lead in seeing that their children are learning the importance of our gatherings by resisting the temptation to drift into a settled pattern of individualized religion.
We do well to remember these words from Hebrews 10:24–25:
“And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.”
With my love in the Lord Jesus,
P.S. If you’d like more information about this change or about how to select a local church to begin attending, visit truthforlife.org/sundaylivestream
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