Feb 23, 2022



The New York Times published an Op Ed piece last Sunday in which the writer called for churches to immediately abandon their online and streaming worship services and worship only in person. Almost immediately, my social media feeds and instant messages lit up with irate and differing responses. And the responses kept coming all week.


The author’s point in the NYTimes article was a valid one – as Christians we affirm an incarnational faith – God is present with us “when two or three are gathered,” and Christ made God manifest in his bodily presence among us, so in-person, in-community worship is a manifestation of that incarnational reality. She goes on to say that online worship can lead people to see gathering in-person as ‘optional’ rather than essential. In other words, online worship gives people permission not to show up on Sunday morning and be present in community which is so important to our spiritual, emotional, and physical well-being.


But I think she misses the point about ‘online’ gatherings. What about those who wish to participate but live far away? And those who don’t feel emotionally and spiritually safe in a worship space until they have ‘witnessed’ it online for quite some time? And those who desperately WANT to be gathering in person but feel strongly that it is a health risk for them?


As your Session members sent emails back and forth discussing this issue, Mary Margaret wrote that an online worship service “augments the in-person service. It feels to me a bit more than a both/and; it’s a this/plus. The generational divide in me would love to go back to the days of everyone in worship together at every opportunity. But our world has changed.”


I think she’s right – our world has changed – and our worship life, and our community patterns of gathering need to change as well. How can PCLT become a “this/plus” community? I am convinced God is challenging us to discover the answer to this question. I invite you to join me in prayer as we seek to discern together.




Pastor Jack