Shunning online services, some clergy preach ‘abstinence’ from gathered worship

"...at least a handful of churches across the country — including three Southern Baptist ones — have intentionally decided not to worship online on recent Sundays as some political and health officials said coronavirus-related social distancing applied to religious gatherings. Liberty Baptist Church in Missouri is one of them." - RNS

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Jonathan Charles's picture

“However, we do not want to unintentionally communicate that an online service is the same as — or even like — worshipping with the gathered body in person. In other words, we don’t believe that a live stream is a real, actual substitute for a church gathering.”

Does this pastor every listen to a sermon online?  Why can't these churches communicate that "
This is not the same thing as 'going to church' but here is a message that God might use to bless you"?  I don't see how their ecclesiology applies to this temporary, extraordinary situation.

TylerR's picture

Editor

That's my deep response to this kind of thing. Have fun with that! Meanwhile, your flock will get fed elsewhere. No problem! You might not notice though, because you're up there sitting on such a high horse ...

Tyler is a pastor in Olympia, WA and works in State government. He's the author of the book What's It Mean to Be a Baptist?

Larry's picture

Moderator

Maybe you shouldn't impugn everyone who disagrees with you.

And maybe recognize that the people referenced in the article have sermons online because they don't think it is wrong to listen to sermons online.

Jonathan Charles's picture

Perhaps they should temporarily take their online sermons down lest a parishioner watch one in the place of being able to go to church. 

TylerR's picture

Editor

We won't produce a new, fresh sermon for you to watch online when we typically meet for worship, because that's wrong. But, feel free to watch our old sermons online anytime you want, including at our normal worship time, because that's somehow ... different.

Or, as one church is my area is doing: We won't produce a new, fresh sermon for you because that's wrong. But, we encourage you to go watch Alistair Begg's livestreams on Sunday mornings.

 

Tyler is a pastor in Olympia, WA and works in State government. He's the author of the book What's It Mean to Be a Baptist?

Larry's picture

Moderator

Perhaps they should temporarily take their online sermons down lest a parishioner watch one in the place of being able to go to church.

Why would they do that? 

Is there a chance you have missed the point they are making? 

Jonathan Charles's picture

Larry wrote:

Perhaps they should temporarily take their online sermons down lest a parishioner watch one in the place of being able to go to church.

Why would they do that? 

Is there a chance you have missed the point they are making? 

 

I get the point of taking this situation as a time of submitting to God's providence, that He might want believers to be doing something other than going to church: spending time reflecting on what God has done, praying for others, helping others and resting.

I don't get the point that watching their pastor preach online would become a substitute for actually going to church.  I think that as an application of ecclesiology is totally wrong.  It would be wrong if believers could be in church and use watching online as a substitute.  But believers can't be in church.  While there are a number of means of grace that a believer experiences at church, at least give them the word.  

Many of the believers in those churches are probably watching someone else online.  

JD Miller's picture

We have done Zoom the last 2 weeks.  I did not even know Zoom existed before COVID.  We have been so blessed becasue Zoom has been much more than just an online sermon.  Our fellowship is small enough that we are able to talk amongst ourselves before and after the service.  As the service starts I go around to each Zoom participant and ask for prayer requests.  We are all together to hear those requests.  Then we pray together concerning those prayer requests.  This is not the same as if we were together in person, but it is something special.  We then have the message and more prayer.  After the message we can talk about the message as well.  I am thankful for this technology, but I am looking forward to meeting in person again.  If we were a larger church, I would hope we could break up into Zoom small groups and do something similar.