After in-person services were canceled last year during “two weeks to flatten the curve,” pastors turned to “online church.” Motivated by love, they recreated Sunday gatherings as best they could, even sometimes encouraging Christians to attempt “communion” with whatever crackers and juice they had in their kitchens.
For weeks under lockdown in Washington state, I tuned in. I sang the worship songs along with my children. I paid attention to the sermon. But no matter what well-meaning pastors called it, it wasn’t church. Scripture makes no allowance for being a participating member of a church body from arm’s length. Administering the sacraments isn’t possible without physical presence.
Although the vast majority of churches are finally open for in-person services again, many continue to maintain an “online church” for members who don’t “feel comfortable” rejoining in person. A welcome to “those joining us from home” is now a routine addition for pastors greeting the congregation.
Many churches streamed their Sunday