What I Think of Livestreamed Services
I’ve been hearing a lot of my friends watching livestreamed services instead of physically going to church for corporate worship. So I’ll take this opportunity to express my opinion on that.
First of all, I want to thank the Lord for technology. Can you imagine life without transportation, cellphones, and the Internet? I really can’t. Technology makes our lives easy and convenient.
Nowadays, certain technologies are used to spread the Gospel and build up the church. There are many ministries that make use of Web technologies to accomplish this. Excellent Web sites include Desiring God, The Gospel Coalition, and The Resurgence. These sites store articles, blogs, videos, sermons (audio and video formats), online books, and many more resources.
Furthermore, Web technologies allow churches to reach more areas. These include places where Christianity is prohibited, or where there is no Bible-believing, Gospel-centered churches that can be found.
While it is true that technology, particularly in the Web, can be used for evil purposes (like pornography and piracy), it can also be used for God’s purposes. So as Christians, let us redeem technology and make it obedient to Christ.
So let’s go back to our issue. Do I have any issue on “attending” livestreamed services? My answer: That depends.
There are certain times that physically attending a worship service on a Sunday is difficult, if not impossible. I’m referring to times like when a natural disaster strikes, or when a person has to attend to personal and/or family needs, or when you are in a place where Christianity is prohibited or no church can be found. In this case, it is valid to opt for a livestreamed service. I have no issue with that.
But what if there is no natural hazard, or no personal and/or family need to attend to, or Christianity is freely practiced in your place? Could a person still opt for livestreamed services? And do this on a regular basis?
My answer: No, for this is unwise. Why? Let me point you to the Acts 2 church:
42And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. 43And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. 44And all who believed were together and had all things in common. 45And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. 46And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, 47praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved. (vv.42-47)
Notice this. The believers “devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.” And daily, they were “attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes.” They were physically present when doing these.
I expect someone will say to me, “But (Web) technologies aren’t present in the time of the early church.” I agree. And if ever these technologies were present, I believe the early believers will seize them to spread the Gospel of the Lord Jesus.
But I also believe it will be limited, because there are certain aspects of fellowship that can’t be done with the mediation of technology. And even if it can be done, it can’t be done perfectly.
Sure, the “teaching” can be done with the use of it (That’s why we have livestreamed sermons, obviously). But what about the “fellowship”? And the “breaking of bread”? And the “prayers”? Like I said a while ago, even if these can be done, it can’t be done perfectly.
To opt for livestreamed services without valid reason is therefore unwise, for you are depriving yourself of the blessings of physical fellowship.
Personally, I still prefer physically attending a worship service. I want to see my pastor preach in person. And if I have questions for him, I will just approach him. I also want to be greeted by the ushers, and want to greet the person seated beside me, even though I don’t know them. I also want to have a chat with my brothers and sisters in Christ, and see and feel the emotions and expressions involved in the conversations. And I also want to be prayed for in person, and to pray for others in person.
Let me encourage you with this: If there is no valid reason to opt for a livestreamed service, then by all means attend a worship service physically. And I hope you experience real fellowship.