Tag Archives: Attending church services

My perspective: Virtual v Physical church attendance

After several months having the churches being closed, people now allowed again to meet in small circles (with the Covid Safe Ticket or Pass) every individual should check for himself or herself and should examine for the family if it would already be safe to go to gatherings, be it for relaxation, Bible study or church service.

Going to “the grocery store, the restaurants, the beauty shop, the office, the classroom, the gym, and the doctor” is something totally different than going to a church, where people are sitting close together and normally also would sing and say prayers together in an enclosed space making it very easy for a virus to spread.

When people go to the supermarket, they are only limited by the amount of people allowed per square metre, and as such have to follow the red and green light indications or the stewards allowing only the right amount of people entering the wide space. To enter the shops only a regulated amount of people per square metre is allowed and often only two at a time, plus always with a mouth mask.

To go to a café, snackbar or restaurant a person has to have the Covid Safe Ticket or Pass and the same regulation is there for other places (as churches) and events.

For going to a gp or doctor one must make an appointment and maximum two people are allowed in the waiting room, which should be ventilated and normally is spacey enough to receive much more people than two.

For going to church there is in many cases no controlling system, though there should be someone at the door asking and checking your CST.

Worship and Bible class are not simply about our being fed spiritually and matters that can be done on our own or via online meetings. Such online meetings can never take in the place of an actual real-life meeting. But we must be fully aware of the present conditions and dangers for each other when coming together in real life.
For every follower of Christ and every lover of God the gathering between all members of the faith community should be very important and not negligible. But, and a great But, we should be fully aware of the situation.

We must consider one another to stimulate unto love and good deeds (Heb. 10:24), and that the best way to do that would be in connection with assembling together (Heb. 10:25), but this also can be done by going in conversation online by the present technical progress. There are Zoom, Jitsi a.o. to have interaction when meeting online.

That people would stay away from the assembly in present times does not mean that they would be less religious or would have abandoned their faith. It is essential to protect the own health as well as the health of others. This can mean that we still have to wait sometime before coming together in real-time and/or real life.

Our relationship with God and with His beloved son shall not be less or of less value. It is from the depth of our heart that the love for God should rise above all our present limitations.

 

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Preceding

Ideas about Religiosity

May we have doubts

Religious Resistance against vaccination

Covid-19 update | Covid Safe Ticket

New rules in Belgium to stop the spread of coronavirus

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Additional reading

  1. Christian in Christendom or in Christianity
  2. Daily thought for July the 8th and the Summer months
  3. Not created to be on our own
  4. No time yet to relax the CoViD-19 restriction measures
  5. Fourth wave of COVID-19 a pandemic of the unvaccinated
  6. According to Pew Most White Evangelicals Don’t Think COVID-19 is a Medical Crisis
  7. Did the first followers of Jesus have ‘church’
  8. Priorities for our Christadelphian community and for the spreading of Good News
  9. Worship

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Related

  1. Get Back to Church
  2. Is church attendance linked to higher rates of coronavirus?
  3. Enjoying Christian Fellowship
  4. Church attendance is often a distraction from biblical Christianity
  5. Normal Christian Doctrine Explained: Church Attendance
  6. Three good reasons to come back to church
  7. Millions skipped church during pandemic; will they return?
  8. No Family Is Too Busy for Church by Desiring God
  9. Why are people attending church less frequently?
  10. Why We’re Not Going Back to Church

OMT's Digest

This post is dedicated to all the virtual churchgoers like myself and those who are still unsure about whether it is best to worship virtually or physically in a church every Sunday. If this is the first time reading any of my blog posts and you want a straight answer, then please don’t proceed because this post is meant to get you thinking to find the answer within yourself.

Prior to COVID, I wouldn’t say I was a consistent church goer. If there was an attendance register, I am sure I would be called to ask why I get in late or why I have been absenting myself from church. COVID however resulted in a lot of churches going online because of physical safety restrictions so I guess I found it very convenient to wake up and have church right in the comfort of my living room.

Afterall, we learn…

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Religious Resistance against vaccination

In the United States we can see a great tendency not to go for vaccination because according to lots of Christian citizens God would protect them.

Millions of white evangelical adults in the U.S. do not intend to get vaccinated against Covid-19. Tenets of faith and mistrust of science play a role; so does politics. Also in Calvinistic Holland we can find lots of people who do not want to be vaccinated.

Some people also come with the most absurd stories, like the government placing a chip in people or having vaccinations with “aborted cell tissue.” Others claim to have received a divine message that God was the ultimate healer and deliverer

“The vaccine is not the saviour.”

Several religious people find they do not need the vaccine because God designed the body to heal itself, if given the right nutrients. They are also convinced that it shall be the Will of God to decide who becomes ill or not and if they shall survive this pandemic.

Across white evangelical America, reasons not to get vaccinated have spread as quickly as the virus that public health officials are hoping to overcome through herd immunity.

There are about 41 million white evangelical adults in the U.S. About 45 percent said in late February that they would not get vaccinated against Covid-19, making them among the least likely demographic groups to do so, according to the Pew Research Center.

“If we can’t get a significant number of white evangelicals to come around on this, the pandemic is going to last much longer than it needs to,”

said Jamie Aten, founder and executive director of the Humanitarian Disaster Institute at Wheaton College, an evangelical institution in Illinois.

Those who refuse to have a jab forget that they are putting the lives of others in danger, the same as they are putting people at risk by ignoring the request not to have a public meeting with too many people. Several church groups can still be found to have public church services, with people coming very close to each other and by singing loud.

In the States

“The sheer size of the community poses a major problem for the country’s ability to recover from a pandemic that has resulted in the deaths of half a million Americans,”

the Times warned.

“And evangelical ideas and instincts have a way of spreading, even internationally.”

Though not all pastors advice their flock to stay away from vaccination.

Many high-profile conservative pastors and institutional leaders have endorsed the vaccines. Franklin Graham told his 9.6 million Facebook followers that Jesus would advocate for vaccination. Pastor Robert Jeffress commended it from an anti-abortion perspective on Fox News.

“We talk about life inside the womb being a gift from God. Well, life outside the womb is a gift from God, too.”

The president of the Southern Baptist Convention, J.D. Greear, tweeted a photo of himself receiving a shot.

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Related

According to Pew Most White Evangelicals Don’t Think COVID-19 is a Medical Crisis

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Filed under Health affairs, Lifestyle, Religious affairs, Welfare matters

Has Bible Engagement during Coronavirus Increased or Decreased?

When coronavirus hit, churches scrambled. Those that weren’t online figured out solutions fast, and those that already were online embraced remote church as a new normal. Since then, churches have worked tirelessly to ensure their congregations can continue meeting for weekly services, Bible studies, and the like (albeit online) and that people feel as connected as possible.

And things seem to be working.

Online services and meetings might be going swimmingly, but have faith communities been able to maintain Bible engagement during the coronavirus?

Not so much.

On July 22, American Bible Society and Barna Group released the 10th Annual State of the Bible report, and the information is sobering. Bible engagement has declined amid the coronavirus outbreak, pointing to a clear relationship between Scripture engagement and in-person church participation.

According to American Bible Society president and CEO Robert Briggs, Bible engagement was already experiencing a downward trend. But the July 2020 study revealed that trend has accelerated since January 2020.

Briggs states:

The study shows a direct correlation between increased Scripture engagement and those efforts typically organized by a church, including mentorship programs and small group Bible studies. Church closures due to COVID-19 are, therefore, likely contributing to decreased rates of Scripture engagement.1

But it’s not all bad news. In fact, Briggs sees it as a huge opportunity for Christian organizations to make an impact on Bible engagement.2

What is Bible engagement?

Bible engagement is more than attending church services or even reading the Bible. Dr. Fergus McDonald, past general secretary of National Bible Society and United Bible Societies, says it is

. . . interaction with the biblical text in a way that provides sufficient opportunity for the text to speak for itself by the power of the Holy Spirit, enabling readers and listeners to hear the voice of God and discover for themselves the unique claim Jesus Christ is making upon them.3

It’s the process of diving deep into Scripture, turning verses and passages around in our minds like bingo numbers in a round, metal cage, and letting them drop from our heads to our hearts. By sifting through and processing God’s Word, we come to experience the author in a profoundly personal way.

We come to know God intimately, and through the process, we are changed. And according to the study, this transformation most often occurs when relational church engagement goes up. American Bible Society Director of Ministry Intelligence Dr. John Farquhar Plake says,

“It’s probably the relationships people have with one another through the church that really make the difference.”4

It’s time to reverse the trend

Now more than ever, it’s paramount that churches commit to reversing this downward trend. The Church must

“transition from ‘survival’ mode back into ‘discipleship’ mode,”5

says Briggs.

But in a coronavirus world, discipling people toward this type of engagement with the Word of God and each other will take a bit of innovation.

And Faithlife has the tools to help your church do just that.

Faithlife, the world’s first integrated ministry platform, helps churches shift from disconnected discipleship to a biblically rooted, step-by-step discipleship strategy — whether your church expects to hold in-person gatherings next week or next year. It puts a wealth of biblical resources within reach for your entire congregation, from a Bible study app to devotionals and small group Bible study guides to theology courses.

Bible engagement is critical for growing a healthy congregation in any season and must not be paused because of today’s crisis. The current pandemic might make the task seem daunting — but you don’t have to go at it alone.

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Notes:

 

  1. ABS News Blog, “American Bible Society Releases 10th Annual State of the Bible Survey,” July 22, 2020.
  2. “State of the Bible Survey,” 2020.
  3. Dr. Fergus Macdonald, Taylor University Center for Scripture Engagement
  4. “State of the Bible Survey,” 2020.
  5. “State of the Bible Survey,” 2020.

 

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