This week I had a conversation will a high-ranking member of the school board about the challenges that COVID has played in education. We talked about in house learning compared to virtual learning from home and the greatest differences that he saw. He told me that no matter how good the system was for virtual learning, it was just not the same as in-house education. He said, “We can do the best that we can, but the truth is that kids are falling farther and farther behind because they are not attending school”. “No matter how good we do virtual learning, it is just not the same”. He went on to say that he believed that as a country, we were going to look back in ten to fifteen years and see an entire generation that has been affected by having a year away from in school education. Lastly, he stated that education among kids was just not designed to be virtual but needed to be person to person.

After our conversation, I thought about that from the standpoint of the church. Much like the school systems across America, many have decided to go to virtual church rather than in house worship. Most churches closed all in-house meetings for several months and did virtual only and then went the doors to the church open many continue to worship from home rather than come back to church. Now I am not here to be that pastor that bashes those that are being safe. I understand the seriousness of the situation that we are all facing and have faced, and I know that some have to remain steadfast and secure. What I am here to do is draw a parallel between the church and the school.

First, I think like the education where many students are falling behind, I feel that many Christians are falling away. Now I do not mean those that are solid in their faith and steadfast in their walk with God. I mean, I get it that the building is not all there to live for Jesus or even worship. But many people were struggling before the pandemic came along, people that the enemy was attacking, and those that were very new to the faith. For them, attending church was more than just coming to a building; it was part of a community of faith that cannot be duplicated on a computer. They needed the interaction with other believers. They needed to sing, pray, and heard live teaching and preaching. They needed to see examples of believers singing praises to God and knowing that they were not alone in what they were going through. I thank God that we can have church online, but I also realize that no matter what we do, it is not the same as being in the community of believers worshiping God and staying home affect even the strongest of believers.

Second, for those who believe that church will be more online than live, I would say that the church is not set up for that at all. Like the school is not set up to teach kids virtually, the church was not created to be unconnected. I know that communication has changed and that many people connect over the internet, but that is not what the church was designed to do. Online there is a disconnect where people can pretend to be anyone, and many times they do, but when you face people, and they see you week in, and week out, it causes there to be accountability. Some would say the church is more than just a place we go, and I would agree with that statement, but it is a place we go. A place we go to be around other believers, a place where we pray for one another, where we smile, laugh, and cry with one another. The church is a place where we shake hands, fist bump, and high five. The church is a place where we rejoice together, and we celebrate all that God has done, and a place where we pray and praise together. The church is a place where we have a meal together and learn God’s word by asking questions and having discussions. And though we can do some of these things online, it is not in the same place nor with the same intensity. The church is a place with energy in our worship and passion in our message that you just do not get coming out of a set of speakers sitting on the couch. We need to be in the place with one another.

Lastly, I am afraid, like the school, that we will see a church generation that has falling behind or falling away. With no kid’s church, kids’ clubs, or youth, we have kids that are missing out on making those connections. Let’s face it; it is much easier to miss church at your house than it is to miss church when you come to the Church house each week. I mean, you just do not cut on the computer, and who knows that you are not there. There is little to no accountability, and we all need accountability in our life. Therefore, we fall farther and farther behind until we finally see no need to try to do better or try to make it to church. Now I know this is the worst-case, and there are many people who are doing online church and are doing great with it, but there is a lot that is just not. No matter who you are or what your circumstance is, you need the church. You need the community, and I feel that those that are at home that has a great relationship with God would agree with me and would say that they miss being in the house of God and cannot wait to get back. For them, I say I am praying that the day comes and comes quickly where we can come back together. For those that have to fall away over the last several months, I would pray that the Spirit recapture your heart and show you the need to come back to the house of God. We need you, and whether you know it or not, you need the church.

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