Corona-Benefits 4: Unchurched Christians' Special Immunity

A few months ago, if a dozen came to the prayer meeting, we regulars felt elated. We’re so often told that this weekly gathering is the church’s engine room; a poorly attended prayer meeting makes for a weak churches, etc. At a recent week’s video-conference prayer meeting we had 18. Yesterday’s online Zoom meeting attracted 32. Down on a real Sunday attendance, but encouraging that many of God’s people took part. It has set me a thinking about church attendance in general. In a typical church, a core of people attend everything. These are such a blessing to a pastor, because they generally do most of the work. Next are the faithful regulars. They attend most events, typically Sunday morning worship, and maybe some special events and members’ meetings. Then there are the less committed, who might turn up 1-2 times a month. After that, we have visitors, folk passing by or holidaying in the area.

There are some good reasons not to attend every church meeting- poor physical health, unsaved partners, to name a couple. Yet many miss meetings for reasons other than this. Now I speak in general terms here; I do not refer to my own congregation in blog posts, nor communicate counsel to individuals I’m too feeble to share face to face. Yet I imagine that the recent closure of churches has made little difference to the practices and spiritual lives of many professing believers. The meetings that have not taken place they would not have attended in any event. I'm told of the ‘many’ Christian believers who ‘cannot find a church’. I have some sympathy. Many fellowships are now either pools of lukewarm liberalism or cabarets of charismatic chaos. Now we have moved online, why hasn’t there been a queue of these churchless believers attempting to join in? Those who find travelling inconvenient, or who have ‘too much on’, why aren’t they tuning in from the comfort of their own front rooms? When the lockdown is over, will these church-sick brethren return to the fold? I suspect not. This whole Corona Virus affair has made no spiritual difference to them. They’ve continued to spend Sundays in bed or jet-washing the patio. The more spiritually-minded have continued watching their favourite YouTube preachers and teachers, doubtless sending them money over the telephone. Some have busily posted Christian memes and pictures on social media- business as usual. The corona-based church closures have bypassed their lives; they are immune to such restriction.

Let me get to the point. I doubt that a number of these so-called unchurched Christians are truly saved. I don’t just refer to nominal ‘tick-the-box-that-says-CofE’ on hospital forms brigade. I’ve seen more spirituality in a vegetable patch that among that crowd. No, I refer to those who have an appreciation of the gospel, those who are theologically aware and have views on Christian doctrine. It is they whose profession I have some cause to doubt. Their untroubled minds and spirits tick over as ever before. "We don’t need to go to church to be Christians", they wheeze. Technically they’re quite correct. Salvation is Christ’s doing, not our attending, performing, going or any other -ing. Yet there is an inbuilt desire, a yearning, among the truly saved to fellowship with like-minded believers. We crave their company as a twin, separated from its sibling at birth, spends a lifetime seeking his long lost brother. Furthermore, the Christian life is about service to others. If the preacher at the local church lacks sufficient razzmatazz, the songs are too slow or the meeting too long- tough. Grow up. Acquire a spine. We attend church, not just for what we can get out of it, but for the encouragement and help we can offer others. Sitting at home watching videos or typing Amen to Facebook posts offers ministry and blessing to diddly-squat.

On our homepage is that verse from Hebrews 10:25 about not forsaking assembling together. In light of our physical closure, I felt somewhat hypocritical and considered its removal. Yet we do assemble together using the latest technology, so the Hebraic injunction is still observed. Those brethren who won't join us in the flesh still won’t join in the pixel.

For you, brethren, have been called to liberty; only do not use liberty as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. Galatians 5:13

Image by My pictures are CC0. When doing composings: from Pixabay