“Do You Still Prefer Online Worship?” – Pastor Young Joo Lee

During the pandemic, many churches faced tough times, and some are still dealing with the aftermath. When we couldn’t come together for worship, it made us think deeply about two essential questions: “What is worship?” and “What makes a church?”

In the peak of the COVID-19 crisis, we turned to online worship out of necessity since gathering in person was impossible. But even as we have the chance to gather in person again, some still prefer online services, often due to small inconveniences like travel or busy schedules. However, it’s vital to remember that worship is about God, not our convenience. Unless you’re unwell or live in an area without a nearby church, choosing to gather in person is the right path.

Additionally, worshipping together as spiritual family members is a natural way for the church to offer worship as one community. A church represents the gathering of Christ’s followers, all redeemed by His precious sacrifice. A church isn’t just a single person; it requires at least two or three individuals coming together as a community. Being part of a church means forming connections and building relationships with fellow believers.

While COVID-19 was a major concern, our church successfully held online worship and gatherings. We even considered sticking to online services to adapt to the digital age. However, God has urged us strongly to gather in person now, seeing not gathering as an act of disobedience. To find a convincing way to share this with the congregation, I prayed to God. He responded with a question: “Don’t loving relationships prefer meeting face-to-face over online?”

It’s true. Long-distance couples or married partners, no matter how busy or costly, cherish the chance to meet in person, even if only briefly, rather than relying solely on video calls. God challenges us with this thought: “If you think of your relationships with fellow church members like business transactions, then perhaps video calls would save time and money. But if your connection is one of dedicated love, like that of lovers or family, then meeting in person is the right choice. How do you see your relationship with the church?”

Thankfully, most of our church members actively participate in offline worship. Temptations to opt for online worship might still arise now and then due to minor inconveniences. But sacrifice is true worship. When we recognise that those attending worship are true brothers and sisters, redeemed by the precious blood of Jesus, it’s clear that online worship, lacking personal interaction, can’t be our preferred choice.

I thank God. Just as God once admonished the offering of imperfect sacrifices, He now challenges us to show our commitment to genuine worship in today’s context, where gathering in person is the right way to honour Him properly.