A few days ago, I was on YouTube trying to find any new live-streaming videos about the Senate hearing of the recent slaying of the late Gov. Degamo. As I was surfing, I also came across many other types of videos including holy masses from different parish churches.
And I was amazed to find that there are so many online church services on the web. I knew of course that there are online church masses and activities but I never expected that it would be so many.
I am aware that many churches switched to streaming or recording their masses during the COVID-19 crisis. That was understandable considering the restrictions but now that a lot of things have eased up, I just didn’t expect that there would still be this many.
As I was thinking about this discovery, a few questions were formed in my mind — can church services or prayer meetings really be done online, not just in part but fully? Is this type of worship for real? I mean, is it truly fulfilling the same way that we do our church obligations and prayer meetings in actual settings?
Is there such a thing as serving God online?
Based on experience and based on what happened to many of us during the lockdown, yes, we can serve God online. In fact, I have delivered several talks online during teachings of the Couples For Christ community. The internet has provided numerous opportunities for us to connect with others and share our faith and God’s word for our salvation.
Many church organizations, renewal movements and communities have created online prayer and service meetings where members can participate, share their life’s experiences, beliefs, ideas, and offer support to one another.
There are also numerous online resources available that can help people deepen their faith, such as online Bible studies, religious podcasts, and devotional materials. Additionally, social media platforms have become a powerful tool for spreading the message of faith and connecting with others who share similar beliefs.
However, serving God online is not the same as serving God in person. While online communities can provide a sense of connection and support, they cannot fully replace the benefits of in-person worship, fellowship, and service meetings.
I do understand that those whose physical circumstances prevent them from doing and attending face-to-face prayer meetings, actual masses, and other church activities, online resources can be a valuable tool for serving God and deepening their faith.
But the question remains. Is it the same? In attending online masses and services, are we really serving God? Truly?
I do not want to sound judgmental here. All I can do at the moment is to talk about some of the differences.
The biggest difference between an online church and a traditional church is the amount of time and effort we put into our spiritual lives. Since we are not physically in a building, we are free to explore our spiritual side on our own. Many online churches have a monthly meeting, which provides time for spiritual reading, sharing ideas, praying, and sharing faith. This is a time to become closer to God without having to worry about driving to church in the morning or afternoon and having to deal with traffic.
Attending church in person requires more physical activity, however, it also involves social interaction with other people. This interaction can take place in several different forms. Being in the church at a certain time will allow parishioners or church members to get to know each other during this time and build a relationship. This may lead to more personal conversations and possibly even friendships. All these, do not happen while one is logged onto a computer in their sleeping attires.
The biggest benefit of members attending online services or online church activities is that they are more flexible than physically attending one. Some feel a higher level of security when using a church website, this makes them feel more comfortable and builds their trust in the Church. They are also able to access the programs that they might not be able to access if they were to attend a church activity physically.
My thoughts on the matter —
I still prefer a face-to-face church activity, prayer meeting or gathering. We shouldn’t settle for less than what God commands. In 3 John 14, God said, “I hope to see you soon, and we will talk face to face.” Although connecting to our church family via online live streams may be an occasional and temporary necessity, “online church” does not meet the Biblical purposes, functions, and commands of gathering in person, except for health reasons.
In Acts 20:28, it is written, “Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood.” In short, we gather because we have been “purchased for a purpose.” The practice of going to church is the practice of being the church – loving God and loving others.
We have a great purpose when we come together. Our coming together prepares us to go out and live lives that radiate God’s love and truth.
Let’s not miss out on our purpose in life and as a church.
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