Well, my dear church checkers. All it took was a worldwide pandemic to threaten the lives of three percent of the population for local churches to finally admit what we've known all along:
You don't actually have to go to a physical local church in order to be a good Christian.
Because of the coronavirus outbreak now sweeping across the globe, churches are closing their doors and cancelling services quicker than you can say "Amen."
SMCC's online service this Sunday was available on their YouTube Channel, and in the description of the video, they told us "Even when we can't go to church, we can still be the church...Remember, the church isn't closed, just our buildings are. Enjoy your time at church today!"
This is the same church that claims: "winning alone isn't winning."
Alpine Church, our most recent church checked, has cancelled all services for March 15th and 22nd. Like SMCC, they put their services online but show no concern for the spiritual health of Christians now lacking physical attendance at church.
You would think if attending local church were really as essential to our personal faith as these local churches have claimed that some efforts to avoid cancelling services would be made.
And yet, every church we've checked, with a couple of exceptions (smaller churches don't need to cancel due to a much lower risk of infection), have cancelled their services, with many of them putting services online. All without a single mention of how we're going to survive as Christians without our physical local church buildings, and all the supposed spiritual necessities they provide us in our walk with God.
Why aren't they worried about our relationships with Christ as we are now deprived of the local church services and buildings? What will happen to our faith if we don't have that weekly small group meeting to hold us accountable? How can we worship without our church's band to perform before us? And most importantly, how will we serve God if we can't even go to the local church building where we're told how to do that?
The truth should be glaring by now. The local church, its man-based "accountability," its worship concerts, its service demands, and even its self-help seminars posing as sermons, are not only unnecessary but maybe now by being forced to stay at home, will be exposed as completely antithetical to the Gospel and God's Word after all.
Many churches, like SMCC and Alpine Church, are now admitting that even though we can't physically come together, we're still the Church, and we can still pursue God, walk with Him, and do literally everything that we could do while we were going to church in person.
SMCC is even insisting that Christians continue to give financially as they were before, even without their physical, in-person services to motivate them.
So, why the flip-flopping from our local churches? Why such a sudden and seamless switch from requiring church attendance to dismissing it flippantly without even blinking an eye? I'll tell you why.
It has nothing to do with the Bible or what it says on the topic. Nothing to do with the teachings of Christ or honoring God or anything like that.
It's the same thing that motivates virtually all other decisions and behaviors within Christian churches today. It starts with an "M" and rhymes with honey.
That's right. It's all about the money, honey.
Without the coronavirus, an outward physical force completely out of their control, churches got away with telling one of the biggest lies being told to Christians today: you have to attend a local church faithfully in order to really be a Christian. What was to stop them? Of course, other Christians (like you and me) could do their best to try and explain what a lie this is, but as we know very well, this has little impact.
With this lie, churches were able to not only build their congregations into the thousands, but in doing so, they made millions of dollars per year in donations from such huge attendance numbers. A physical building needs funding. Group meetings have costs. Events and activities have costs. Band equipment, utility bills, light shows, and other supply costs. It all needs money, and once you get a little bit of it, you want more. And once you have more, you want even more.
Now, with the coronavirus forcing churches to close their doors and move services online, not only is the funding associated with the local church no longer needed, but the money that comes from those thousands of people that normally walk through the doors every Sunday is...well...no longer walking through the door! So how will churches get the money they want?
By scrambling to continue providing you with some kind of "service," that's how. By putting services online and reminding you almost constantly to continue giving, even though you're no longer receiving the physical benefits and services that you were getting before the church closed its doors.
Um...okay. Our services will be online now. Please forget that we ever called you a bad Christian for not attending church in person. Just kidding. You can still be a good Christian. Just attend our ONLINE services! They're just as great and important. We still need your money. Here's an awesome music performance and an entertaining sermon to tickle your ears. Please don't stop paying us!
While the world debates over the seriousness of this pandemic and begins stocking up on toilet paper and hand sanitizer, I'm wondering where local churches go from here.
The lie that physical and in-person church attendance is necessary for a relationship with Christ can now be exposed and forgotten while churches scramble to change their message in order to continue receiving your money, but don't let them, church checkers. Hold them accountable.
While many Christians will transition blindly to whatever new lie the churches decide to tell them in order to continue receiving their money, you shouldn't. Remind them of what they told you: that you NEED the local church. That your relationship with Jesus relies on it. That you can't grow as a Christian without THEM. And now, because of a virus, all of that is no longer true?
Don't let them get away with it, Christians. You know as well as I do how hard they peddled this message. A national emergency wouldn't change the truth, and neither would a recommendation from the Governor, or the President of the United States. If local church attendance is essential for our spiritual health, it's essential whether there's a viral illness in the area or not.
They stopped peddling it as quickly as the coronavirus arrived. That means they never believed it to begin with. Think about that.