How To Make The Most Of A Livestream “Gathering”
Covid-19 | by Pastor Adam Sinnett
Our God is “the hope of all the ends of the earth and the farthest seas” (Ps. 65:5). Even when we walk through seasons of upheaval and uncertainty, we do not fear because he promises to be with us (Isa. 43:1-5). In Jesus, nothing that comes our way can separate us from his love, or thwart his purposes in our lives, whether “tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword” (Rom. 8:35; Ps. 138:8). Seasons like this test the quality of the foundation that our lives are built on (cf. Mt. 7:24-27).
GOING TO LIVESTREAM THIS SUNDAY AT 10 AM
One of the unfortunate temporary side-effects of this season is that we will not be able to physically gather in light of government mandates to mitigate the spread of the novel coronavirus Covid-19. We are glad to partner with the community and “seek the welfare of the city” (Jer. 29:7). We want to love one another (Jn. 13:34) and our neighbors well (Mk. 12:31). However, it means we are entering new territory as a church.
So, what do we do when we can’t physically gather? Well, we do the best we can. Under the circumstances, that means utilizing livestream technology to gather virtually while we are scattered throughout the city. Therefore, beginning this Sunday we will consolidate our two morning gatherings into one livestreamed gathering at 10am.
THIS IS A TEMPORARY CONCESSION
The church gathers; that’s what it does. The local church is Jesus’ set apart people, in a specific place, who exist to glorify him by committing their lives to one another. The local church is the universal church made visible and is, therefore, a miracle of God. This is why physically gathering with Jesus’ people on the Lord’s Day has been a privilege and priority from the start (Heb. 10:25, cf. Acts 2:42f).
Therefore, it is important to view our livestream in this season as a temporary concession, rather than the creation of an ongoing convenience. Yes, it is convenient, but not all conveniences are good for our souls in the long term. We can thank God for modern technology (and we do, especially right now) even while recognizing its limitations. Physically gathering matters—after all, Jesus promised to be with us when we do (Mt. 18:20). But, right now, we can’t. So, how do we make the most of this temporary concession?
HOW TO MAKE THE MOST OF A LIVESTREAM GATHERING
Ask the Lord to give you a soft, humble, and hungry heart before we gather-while-scattered. Spend time on Saturday evening or Sunday morning in the Word and prayer to prepare your soul for worship. Pray for the church, other members, your community and discipleship group, along with not-yet-believers who may participate. Let’s ask the Father to give us a supernatural sense of unity even while being spread throughout the city. Who knows how he might use all of this? Let’s pray in faith, hope, and love.
(2) FIND A SPECIFIC PLACE
Be intentional about where in your home you will participate. Don’t leave that decision to the last minute. If possible, I recommend participating from the place in which you spend your daily time with the Lord. That space probably already has a sense of set-apart-ness to it that will help facilitate your worship.
Also, consider how you might intentionally prepare for worship. Fight the temptation to see “online church” as a mere convenience by preparing in advance and arriving on time. The livestream will be up at least 15 minutes before worship begins. Work through any potential technology issues. Decide, in advance, how will you participate—phone, laptop, SmartTV? Have your Bible close at hand. Print the Sunday handout, which will be available at least one hour before we begin.
(4) REMOVE DISTRACTIONS
We all know that it can be a challenge to remain undistracted at home. There are projects to do, dishes to wash, laundry to fold, bills to pay, and cleaning to be done. If your household has kids, there is the added layer of toys, craft supplies, and random socks lying around. Even more, our phone is innocently resting on the end table wooing us to check “just this one time.” But, put it all away. Clean up the space. Commit, along with those you’re gathering with, to set apart this time for Jesus and one another.
The primary way to keep the livestream an act of worship, rather than consumption, is to actively participate. So, when we stand, let’s stand together. When we sing, let’s sing together. When we recite the call to worship or assurance or commission, let’s recite the scripture out-loud. Remember, our livestream is in fact live. It is not a recording. You are not alone, even if you are alone in your living room. Envision hundreds of DCC households, united in spirit, worshipping throughout the city—its a powerful image.
If you have space in your home to uphold the current public health order, especially the call to social distancing, you may want to consider inviting a few friends to join you for worship.
Lord willing, we will be able to gather unhindered soon. Until then, let’s not neglect meeting together, even under non-ideal circumstances (Heb. 10:25). Let’s be salt and light in our city (Mt. 5:13-16). The Lord is at hand, so we don’t need to be anxious (Phil. 4:5-6). This will pass and then the next trial will come. In the hands of our good God, every trial tests the genuineness of our faith, which is more precious than gold, so that it might result in “praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 1:6-7). He is faithful; he will do it (1 Thess. 5:24).
Christ is all,
P.S. Two final notes:
1) Please do not come to the church’s building on Sunday.
2) We will be rolling out a plan for what it means to be the church throughout the week very soon.