Love, Don’t Guilt, Your Neighbor

Posted: July 15, 2021 in Uncategorized

Today I read a rather judgmental post online. Someone was lamenting that some churches were abandoning online services now that they are back to in-person worship. The person made assertions that the people dropping their online services would be detrimental to the outreach potential. For the record I believe that, at least to a point. Online services opened another way of getting the Word to the people. It was highly important in the midst of a pandemic and continues to be a great way to get the word to the masses, but it is not without its struggles. For example, some have gotten used to being able to watch church online while forsaking the assembly of believers, and I am not sure that is good for them or for the church. I can see why a congregation would curtail online services in an effort to “get their people back.” That’s not necessarily wrong either.

For me, one of the great frustrations of the pandemic was the guilt that Christians were inflicting on each other. Churches who returned to in-person services “didn’t care about their people” or were “in idolatry to the building.” While those who did not return “lacked faith.” Neither of these were true, but in many cases it divide the church. Then you had the individual members. Some would not return because of a lack of masks, others would not return if they had to wear a mask. A lot of us searched for middle ground, but the people on the poles were so loud that everyone was frustrated. This is what happens when fear rules the day, and both sides were operating in a certain amount of fear. Whatever happened to loving your neighbor and perhaps coming to an understanding that people were going to see this situation in different ways. For the record, I could not have been more proud of how my congregation handled it. There were disagreements to be sure, but they loved each other through them and we came through pretty well. 

When I read the aforementioned post, may first thought was “Here we go again.” And I said previously I intend to continue putting my services online in one form or another for the foreseeable future, the outreach potential is just too high. I love having a simple link that allows my congregation to share any message I preach with anyone they like. On the other hand I will also say, as visitation begins to open up and more people are able to receive me in person rather than just a phone call, I cannot help but wonder how I am going to get it all done. Recording and uploading the service is a lengthy time consuming process, and because the internet at our small rural church is sometimes spotty, I don’t feel like I can totally depend on streaming. Our church staff consists of me and a very part time secretary, so all the recording work is done by yours truly, and a faithful volunteer who coordinates the Zoom. One week when he wasn’t able to be there, I tried to do it myself, using my phone, and found that somewhere in the middle of the sermon the screen “went black” and I could not very well stop mid sermon to fix it. I’m also painfully aware that my former career as a graphic designer/web developer, etc. gives me a skill set that a lot of people do not have. Were it not for those skills I am not sure we ever would have made it online. Bottom line a lot of us are muddling through this transition to online worship and we should be applauding people’s efforts rather than guilting them.  

My guess is the person who made the somewhat judgmental post, probably has multiple staff and someone to coordinate all the work involved and that is awesome, but brothers and sisters we’re not all in the same “boat” when it comes to technology, nor are people of the same opinion when it comes to online worship. Let’s not let the pandemic divide us again.   

Love, Don’t Guilt, Your Neighbor!

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