Why come back to church to worship God in person?
Rev Dr Chua Chung Kai // April 8, 2022, 2:28 pm
Returning to church on-site is a powerful communal witness to a watching world of the reality of our God. Photo courtesy of Bethesda Bedok-Tampines Church.
Why come back to church? That’s one question I’ve been pondering over the last two years. After all, many of us seemed to be doing quite well with church online during the Circuit Breaker and various Heightened Alerts.
Is there any need for onsite church anymore? Can’t we just carry on?
Two years into Covid, here are my simple reflections as to why I believe we need church onsite:
1. We are created to worship together
Honestly, I found it hard to worship with church online. Yes, my family was with me. Yes, I did sing aloud at times. But, somehow, it didn’t feel the same. And I discovered I was not alone in this experience.
Many whom I spoke with also found it hard to worship online. It’s not that the worship leaders or musicians or worship set was bad. Indeed, they were often excellent. Yet something was missing.
What was it, I wondered.
God redeemed for Himself a people who would gather to worship Him.
Then when we were allowed to be back onsite for worship, albeit without singing, I found the experience different.
Even though we could not sing aloud, just being present with others in the sanctuary, with live worship happening on stage, I found my spirits lifted. I was not alone. Others came who also needed the presence of another.
We needed each other to remind ourselves that we were not alone.
We were created to be part of something larger than ourselves, even beyond our families. What was missing was other people! God redeemed for Himself a people who would gather to worship Him – we were created to worship, and to worship Him as a people.
This week we had our all-staff worship. For the first time in two years, we were allowed to sing!
We sang with all our hearts (and with our masks) – boy, was it awesome!
Our spirits stirred towards our King and His Kingdom! He is coming soon and we, His people, are preparing ourselves by singing aloud as one voice in worship.
So why do church onsite?
I need it; we need it! We are created to worship our Creator together!
Indeed, that is our eschatological vision (Revelation 7:9-12).
2. We are created to be a witness
There is something powerful when people gather. In our pre-pandemic days, crowds gathered for soccer, concerts, National Day, and so forth. It never really dawned on me that the gathering itself was a testimony to the draw of the event!
We bear witness of the importance of the One who is worshipped.
The crowds were a demonstration of the significance of the occasion.
So, during the pandemic, when crowded events were thinned out and rare, I began to notice crowds at certain places on certain days. Cars, motorcycles and bicycles would be parked along roads, with people streaming towards certain places of worship. I thought, wow, what a powerful testimony! What a witness to the significance of their worship!
When we gather regularly (beyond our small groups) as a people at our places of worship, we are bearing witness to the importance of the One who is worshipped.
To a watching world, it becomes a powerful witness of our God. Yes, they need not necessarily believe what we believe, but it would stir their hearts to see people who do believe in this God make the effort to gather as His people to worship.
So why have church onsite? Our regular gathering is a powerful communal witness to a watching world of the reality of our God.
3. It pleases the Lord
It pleases our Heavenly Father that His children gather as a spiritual family to worship Him together.
In the Old Testament, three times a year the Lord called His people to come to Jerusalem to celebrate Passover, Pentecost and Tabernacles (Exodus 23:14-17).
This gathering of His people to celebrate and enjoy His goodness brings joy to our Father’s heart.
It’s interesting that the Passover has been transformed into the Lord’s Supper, and Pentecost has been transformed by the outpouring of the Holy Spirit as first fruits. We await the transformation of the Feast of Booths when our Lord returns to the tabernacle with us. (Zechariah 14:16)
This gathering of His people to celebrate and enjoy His goodness brings joy to our Father’s heart. This is not to say we can’t please God in other ways (for example, in obedience and yieldedness).
But He longs for His children to be one before Him (John 17:20-23). Worshipping before Him is certainly one way we can demonstrate that.
So why have church onsite?
It pleases our Heavenly Father that His children worship as one before Him!
So then, even as the Covid situation improves in our land (thank You, Lord!) and there is a relaxation of safe management measures, let us return to church onsite. We need it, it’s a powerful communal witness and it well pleases our Father.
See you in church!
This was first published on Rev Chung Kai’s Facebook page and has been republished with permission.
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