I’ll be honest: this quarantine has been good for me.
Now, I don’t mean that the COVID-19 pandemic and this quarantine are “good.” I’m not insane! But, compared to other quarantines, this one has been okay for my family and me.
Since becoming chronically ill and disabled in the summer of 2015 my family and I have experienced quarantine before. The first three quarantines were due to my health being at risk. Each quarantine was for a different specific reason, but the common factor was the protection of my health and well-being.
So, this current quarantine is my fourth.
After our first quarantine, I remember telling some friends that the hardest part of being tucked away for safety was that I could not go to church gatherings. My family was completely cut-off from the church because we couldn’t leave the house. The second and third quarantine were the exact same: We were cut-off and isolated every day and in every way.
Now that everyone is quarantined there have been amazing strides in connecting and involving everyone: Sundays being livestreamed, small groups utilizing online platforms, and video chats becoming the norm.
We don’t know when this pandemic will fade into reintegration of everyday life, but I’m contending for the continuation of livestreaming Sunday mornings going forward.
Here are two quick points and then I’ll make my case.
The Church is a People, Not a Place
I guarantee you’ve said or heard someone say “I’m going to church” or “I don’t go to church.” While those statements are intelligible, they are flawed. The assumption is that church is a place you go, like a building or space people get together.
When the Bible speaks of the church, the original Greek word in the New Testament is “ekklēsia.” Every time that word is used it is referring to a group of people, not a place they go to get together. So, the Bible makes it very clear: Christians don’t go to church, Christians are the church.
This pandemic helps us clarify this point: Even though we cannot attend a church gathering or small group, Christians are still the church. Church cannot be cancelled because God’s people cannot be cancelled. A local church may not be able to gather for now, but God’s people can still worship God individually and, now, together virtually.
We Are Made For Community, Not Isolation
Even though our technology can provide helpful patchwork while we are quarantined, being isolated from people is not how we are designed. We are made for community, authentic relationships with one another. We cannot grow and thrive if we are isolated from the world because every single person is necessary and important.
“Many of us are feeling this in spades: we feel unnecessary, not needed, and disconnected. The one thing that was not “good” in Genesis 1 was human isolation. We were designed by the Creator for being-in-communion. Think about the very young and the very old in our lives. Are we communicating to them that they are needed, or that they are merely vulnerable? God made us for community and interdependence; God created us for mutual needed-ness.”
I am made for community. You are made for community. All of us are not meant for a life in quarantine. Obviously, this quarantine is not ideal; This quarantine is not conducive for our long-term development. This season will fade and the majority of people will slowly be able to enjoy the blessing of community.
However, some people won’t be able to return to “life per usual” and some people live, like me, with seasons of quarantine. That’s why I believe livestreaming Sundays should continue.
… Continue Livestreaming
As I did research for this I came across a few objections for the continuation of livestreaming Sunday mornings. Here are three:
- “This will only make people want to go to a church gathering more, so we don’t need to.”
- “A major part of the Christian faith is being able to gather and worship God corporately, and livestreaming will give people the option of substitute the real thing for a screen.”
- “Don’t give this tech obsessed generation an avenue to opt out of the local church.”
While I understand and agree with the foundational beliefs, I do not agree with the application points. Instead of going point-by-point, there’s another avenue to respond in favor of counting livestreaming Sunday gatherings.
Who is the livestream for?
There are four groups of people that would benefit from the continuation of a Sunday livestream.
- The Disabled
- The [Long-Term] Sick
- The [Short-Term] Sick – for the duration of sickness and contagious period
- The Elderly
Without trying to justify why each group needs the livestream, I’ll do my best to summarize:
These four groups of people need the church to livestream because sometimes, or at all times, there may be an obstacle preventing them from attending Sundays that is real and important to acknowledge.
Now, of course, the local church and individuals should pursue an avenue to attend in-person as much as they are able to. It is important to recognize that people, abilities, and sickness and all different and nuanced, but through candid conversations it can become clear how much they would need a livestream.
This is not a substitute but a pathway of love, care, and inclusion.
Why livestream for those people?
If you acknowledge that people would benefit from livestreaming Sunday morning, then answering the “why?” Question is simple.
By livestreaming for those people, you are loving them. By making corporate worship accessible, you are providing people a chance to sing in worship with God’s people, pray with God’s people, and be edified by the Holy Spirit through hearing God’s Word preached. Now, making all of that possible for someone seems pretty loving to me.
Also, livestreaming Sunday mornings is an opportunity to grow and demonstrate kindness and gentleness. Livestreaming, in my opinion, is caring for and being considerate the needs of your church members. This tells the community you live that the kindness you demonstrate for your church comes from an abundance of loving-kindness from God shown to you.
And by livestreaming you are giving the short-term sick the freedom and permission to worship at home. By encouraging the short-term sick individuals and families to stay home, you are also caring for the healthy members of your church. By livestreaming during the short-term sicknesses you should decrease the spread of the sickness and how long it affects the entire congregation.
Okay, how would my local church livestream after COVID-19?
I am not an elder in your church, so I will defer to the elders what is wise and loving in your context. It should look different church-to-church, but here are three things to consider:
- Does your local church include many of the four groups listed above? If so, discuss as elders what is best and then go over the idea with those people.
- If we decide to do this, what equipment do we need, if any?
- Do we make the livestream public (on social media platform) or on a private, password-controlled, page on your website?
The hardest part about quarantine for me has always been being cut-off from my local church, but this quarantine has shown that local churches have the ability to allow all people to worship corporately.
I hope your local church is able to worship together on Sundays in singing of song, prayer, and hearing the Word preached. I just hope its in-person and through livestream.