About a month ago Baltimore Bible Church began live-streaming its services. For those of you who don’t know what live streaming is, it means that we can simultaneously record and broadcast our service in real-time. Right now we are only broadcasting the sermons, which usually begin sometime between 10:45 and 11:00 on Sundays on our YouTube channel (https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCUbPvJ16l0yhQyL212qKsZQ/videos).
This has already given some of our sick and shut-in members the opportunity to participate in our services from a hospital bed or at home. It has also given members the benefit of reviewing messages immediately after service. I thank God for the opportunities that we have to expand our ministry in this way but my enthusiasm for “virtual participation” does not mean that I don’t understand that there are dangers here as well.
Not too long ago, I spoke with a member of another church who told me that churches just need to get on board with “online services”. He told me that millennials don’t want to get out of bed on Sunday mornings and the only way that we can reach them is by taking advantage of “online services”. Really? Is this what we’ve come to?
Virtual services as a permanent replacement for assembling ourselves together would be a disastrous alternative.
1) It would violate the command to assemble ourselves together
Hebrews 10:24-25 24 and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, 25 not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.
2) It would avoid roughly 30 “one-another commands” in Scripture that require personal relationships. Below are just a few…
· Contribute to one another’s needs (Rom 12:13)
· Be devoted to one another in brotherly love (Rom 12:10; 1 Pet 3:8)
· Be united with one another (Rom 12:16; 1 Cor 1:10; 1 Pet 3:8)
· Serve one another through love (Gal 5:13; 1 Pet 4:10)
· Speak to one another in psalms, hymns and spiritual songs (Eph 5:19)
· Bear one another’s burdens (Gal 6:2)
3) It would place our spiritual gifts on the shelf, which are intended for the benefit of the rest of the body. Every joint and ligament of the body has it’s place.
Ephesians 4:1616 from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by what every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love.
4) And it also displays a lack of love for the body. Paul often spoke about longing to see the body.
Romans 1:11 For I long to see you…
Philippians 1:8 For God is my witness, how I long for you all with the affection of Christ Jesus.
1 Thessalonians 3:6 But now that Timothy has come to us from you, and has brought us good news of your faith and love, and that you always think kindly of us, longing to see us just as we also long to see you,
Do you have a longing to be with the body of Jesus Christ? Is it enough to make you go to sleep a little earlier on Saturday night and set your alarm for Sunday morning? Is it enough to make you get out of bed, make your first cup of coffee and drive for 30-45 minutes to church? Is it enough to create a concern for your fellow brothers and sisters in Christ? Maybe enough to bear their burdens, serve them in love, contribute to their needs and pray for them?
There are some things you just can’t replace with a screen and a wi-fi connection, we need living connections! So while we are happy to offer BBC’s live stream as a service to you, it is not a replacement for service for you.
In Christ Alone,