Is worshiping online, true worship?

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Dear Mike,
Is worshiping online, true worship?

With the corona virus, the pandemic, the social distancing, people having to stay home, many churches have canceled live in-person services and they're streaming their services online, having folks watch from home or from other locations.

And some people are wondering, well is this really you know, is this really true biblical worship? One individual even quoted Hebrews 10:

24and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, 25not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.
- Hebrews 10:24-25

The key point here in the passage is, not forsaking our own assembling together, and the point that the writer was making is, we're forsaking our assembling together when we're at home, we're watching the live stream on TV, we're watching the service on our computers or phones.

The traditional way to gather for worship is to gather in the same building, or in the same room if you wish, where we're all together present, and the author here of Hebrews is not talking about someone who is not in the assembly for a time because of a reason, he's talking about abandoning the assembling of ourselves together.

Abandoning means letting go, rejecting, never coming back. For example, if you have a man who is in the military man but is also married with several children and he's called on deployment for six months, he's leaving home, he's not going to be in the house, he's not really abandoning his family, is he? He has work, he's a soldier, he's a military person, and his job calls him away.

Just like if you're a sales rep, or an engineer that needs to be away from home, you're not abandoning your home or family, you have to be away from home. Well, this is the same idea. We're not abandoning services because we can't meet in the same building for worship, because we're doing it for health reasons, and we're doing it for a hopefully short time.

Many churches nowadays are providing online services, not because of the coronavirus, but they're broadcasting their services live each Sunday as a matter of convenience for the people who are shut in, traveling or individuals who are visiting online before coming in person.

The online service complements or supplements, the regular service that the church is conducting live in the church building. The online or streaming services, may complement or supplement live worship, but it can't replace live in-person worship.

There are things that just cannot be duplicated online, and that is of course the human interaction that takes place when we worship together, when we hear each other sing and when we hear the prayer of a brother or the handshakes, hugs and the personal interaction that takes place during worship. These type of things just can't be replaced with a video, no matter how sophisticated, no matter how well put together the program is, it can never replace face to face meeting, and in person worship.

Let's remember that during this time of distress, and difficulty where we have to kind of stay in place, and not meet in public. This too shall pass with time, and will be able to take up once again our regular services.

I do commend however all those congregations that go to the trouble of organizing a streaming services for their members, perhaps this emergency will have caused various churches to step up technically to provide this type of service for their members and for other people. It's a great evangelistic tool as well. I encourage you to continue to do it even after the virus scare is over, and we go back to normal.

In the meantime, I to pray for all the churches that we will remain faithful during this difficult moment, and the Lord will bring us back together so we can enjoy and celebrate being together for regular worship each Lord's day in the future.

God bless you, will see you soon.

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