Staying Home on Sundays?
We have entered unprecedented days in church life. In some ways, our members are more connected than ever but also needy of fellowship and encouragement. Technological advancements have allowed churches the freedom to host virtual services and guide their congregations in worship from afar, yet online services have been met with controversy. In the face of pressure to stay home during the current national crisis, these online services have become indispensable. The church has been quarantined and we are all scrambling to adjust.
I want to say up front that I am a firm believer in the importance of the local church. Christians need each other and for the average congregant the corporate weekend gatherings are the only consistent opportunity they have for their faith to be encouraged and stirred up before going back to life as usual for the rest of the week. There are few things worth prioritizing more than Church.
However, whether we are talking about a virus pandemic, injuries, disabilities or personal tragedies, there can be legitimate obstacles to attending weekly worship gatherings. When we encounter these cases, how can someone make the most of their time in the home to encourage and stir up their faith?
Worshiping in Your Home
First we must keep worship as a priority. It can be so easy to give other things preference when we know that few people will be checking in on us of missing us if we neglect worship. We can become lazy when we do not have to spruce ourselves up before heading off to church. Oftentimes in our laziness we simply neglect our faith first.
Yet worship must never been dismissed as only a Sunday morning responsibility. Worship is our heart's admiring response to the works of God. If we neglect to worship, we are neglecting to express to God our heartfelt thanks and praise for the salvation that He offers and the promises He has fulfilled in the sacrifice of His Son. If we slack in worship, we are effectively revealing that we take for granted the Gospel and presume upon God's kindness (Romans 2:4) and love in a manner that does not honor Him.
Do not neglect to worship your God. He is too good and His gracious gift is too precious to neglect Him for the sake of new found freedom each weekend. Express your heart, sing of His goodness, and remember His ways; day after day.
Tips for Worshiping at Home
While Churches are self quarantining for this season and the responsibility to worship is falling to each household, here are some suggestions and tips to make this time at home fruitful.
Commit to a Regular time to read scripture and pray: Pick a a time that you know can offer consistency; open your bible and spend time reading the words of God. Let you heart be filled with His promises and your thoughts be filled with His works. Then respond by communicating and expressing your heart to God in prayer.
Listen and Sing to Hymns on a regular basis: Many of us love music and turn music on throughout our days as an encouragement. Adding hymns to your playlists will allow you to sing along to the worship filled lyrics
Be creative to express your heart for the Lord: Sometimes we tend to limit the expression of our thankfulness and praise to reading, prayer and song. Though these are the expressions of praise that scripture promotes, we also see creative expressions as people dance, work and create to the glory of God. Be creative while you are at home and express your heart to God as your heart longs to be expressed.
Join your Church live-stream each Sunday: When Sunday does come along, set aside time to join your church family. Get dressed that morning, gather your family or some friends, grab your bible and journal and prepare to participate fully in the services provided by your church. Then after the service has concluded, don't let it end there. If you are with your family, ask questions and have a conversation with your spouse and children. If you are with friends, join in a time of fellowship, encouragement and prayer. If you are alone in your home, then try to think of a member of your church family that you could call encouragement each week.
Persevere: As you increase faith-filled efforts in your home there will still be obstacles. Sometimes our family can feel too busy to sustain worship efforts. Other times, we easily fall back into lazy patterns that tend to neglect our faith. It is important to remember that God is worthy of our worship even if our desire to worship wanes. This means that the motivation for our worship, both in home and in church, can vacillate between delight and duty. In spite of our motivation, we must persevere. Let the Gospel lead you to worship and honor God because He is worthy.
Carefully tending to your Heart
When this quarantine season is over and churches begin to open the doors for full participation in worship services. There will be some who, after feeling the freedom that home worship allowed, will prefer to continue to stay home. Here is where Hebrews 10:24-25 has words for the church.
And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.
As you stay home the for coming weeks, carefully tend to your heart and keep a right view of what we are missing when we are not able to join each other on Sunday mornings. Though the quarantined church offers a unique and necessary opportunity to focus our hearts to worship our God in a more holistic way; it does not give us the licence to neglect the Christian family gatherings.
Lets us grow in our faith as we eagerly await the opportunity to encourage each other again.