“And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” Hebrews 10:24-25
On any given Sunday, in normal times, you would find me on the front row of our Hills Campus. I love to sing and worship and do my best to always come to every service full of faith and enthusiasm.
But these times aren’t normal, hey?
In current times, I’m not sure about you, but I’ve had to adjust my thinking and choose again to lift my faith and actively set my heart and mind on Christ as we gather online and not together in person.
And gathering online is a totally different experience, isn’t it?
I must admit, the first Sunday we were unable to meet in person, I was unprepared. This new reality revealed to me my comfort with how we’ve always done it. And as I’ve reflected on this new online reality, especially in light of Hebrews 10:24-25, I’ve had to revisit my approach to Church in this season.
As a result, here’s three steps I’m taking to help to not just watch an online service, but actually be the Church as we gather online, this weekend and every weekend moving forward.
1. Prepare In Advance
In the verses above, we’re encouraged to not “give up” meeting together. In the original Greek, the word used here is “enkataleipontes” which has a deeper sense. It’s telling us to be mindful not to “neglect” meeting together.
For me, to neglect something means I don’t think about it, look after it, or prepare for it. When it comes to online Church, it can be so easy to do just that.
So, in this season, I’m choosing to do the opposite. I’m choosing to prepare in advance for the gathering.
What this means practically is that I doing things like:
- Setting aside the time for a specific service and not randomly choosing a service to attend if I remember.
- I’m proactively talking about church with my family so we all know we’re attending together.
- I’ve set up my computer so church online is simple to access and I’ve attached some extra speakers so it sounds good and is loud enough to lead us as we worship.
- I’ve made sure that my information is setup in the giving app so my giving is biblical, thoughtful and intentional (2 Corinthians 9:7).
- And I’m endeavouring to prepare my heart so I’m ready to receive from them Spirit of God.
These are all little things that I can prepare in advance so as to not neglect the gathering.
2. Pre-empt Distraction
I don’t think I’m alone when I say that I’m prone to distraction. I start doing one thing only to find myself distracted by another… and then perhaps another.
In a world where “attention” is a sought after commodity, we need to be careful not to allow distraction to rob us of the blessing of being the Church. Instead we need to pre-empt distraction in order to overcome it.
The writer of Hebrews is doing just this – he’s telling them not to neglect gathering “as some are in the habit of doing”. He’s pointing out the habit so as to pre-empt it and change the behaviour.
For me, that looks like turning off notifications during our online Church services. It also means that I make sure our house isn’t noisy and distracting. And it means, for me, not trying to do two things at once.
I know myself, and I know I can’t multitask. If I try to “do Church” and do other things at the same time, then I’m actually just doing half of the two things.
So in this season, given I’m prone to distraction, I’m choosing to pre-empt the distraction, and in doing so I am aiming to be present for God to move and act powerfully in my life.
3. Participate With Enthusiasm and Faith
For the writer of Hebrews, the gathering was about so much more than just a group of people meeting together. Our online gatherings are the same.
We gather to worship God. We gather to engage with the word of God being preached. And we gather to spur each other on and to encourage one another.
When it comes to worship – I’m choosing to stand, lift my hands and raise my voice in song. It may not be normal behaviour, and it may push me outside my comfort zone, but God is worthy of the praise. And if I’m not prepared to worship him with passion in the safety and privacy of my own home then something’s wrong.
During the preaching, I’m choosing to open my bible and notepad, and take notes. This is so I can keep focused and take in the message. I believe there’s always something to be learnt from the word of God being preached, and I don’t want to miss a thing, or the opportunity to share that message with someone else in need.
Lastly, I’m doing my best to encourage and spur others on in their faith. One way I’m doing that is by engaging in the chat in as meaningful a way as I can. If a good point is preached then I like to repeat it… if a prayer is prayed, then I like to show my participation and agreement with an “amen”. It may be little but I believe that as I step out in these small acts of faith God will use them in a powerful way.
My prayer for you…
My prayer is that as you read these 3 steps that you will be encouraged to do similar. I hope they challenge and inspire you to not just watch Church, but be the Church and participate in her gatherings with passion and focus.
I know that as we do all we can to meet with God, to worship Him and to encourage others in their journey towards Christlikeness, the Spirit of God will meet us wherever we find ourselves, and meet our needs also.
As we live out Scripture and draw near to Him in living rooms, kitchens and bedrooms, He will meet us where we are and He will change us and heal us.
See you in Church,