There was House Church Conference for pastors this week. Due to the pandemic it happened online for the first time. As I was going through the live streaming of main sessions, it dawned on me that it was my first time attending a live-streaming service as a participant. So, it allowed me to reflect on the online service experience from the viewpoint of participant, instead of a leader.
I found that certain portions of the program were better online. I could concentrate better at the presenters as they were up-close on the screen, and having clear audio helped me hear every word. However, there was also a challenging part. As there was no one around me, I was very susceptible to distractions, and I didn’t feel the comraderie of being with other pastors.
We will continue to offer online service. We have plans to upgrade the experience as well. It is because we believe that expanding our capacity to connect with people online is tremendously essential, as unchurched people (VIPs) we want to reach are already online. It can become an easier “first step” before they decide to visit in-person.
However, we also recognize the limitation of Online-Only church experience. Though there are many things we can do virtually, it is missing the critical element of engaging with the church’s mission. It is easy to remain as a “spectator” instead of becoming a contributor, in online-only environment. That is why we need an intentional measure to stimulate our spiritual muscle.
In-person service is now open to all members. If you have a pre-existing health concern (or living with those who do or seniors), please continue to worship online. However, if you haven’t come out to in-person service since the pandemic and are healthy, I encourage you to “consider” starting to attend in-person at least once a month.
We have 30 people limit, so it is not to increase our attendance. It will remind you of the importance of face-to-face human interaction and the power of worshiping with fellow church members in the same place. Many of those who have started attending in-person shared that they became very thankful for the new experience that wasn’t available online. Online is supplement, not a substitution, of the in-person experience.