The Church Can’t Come Through A Computer!?
Ignorance is NOT Bliss
Author: Saleama A. Ruvalcaba, MATS
Let me just say right from the start that this article might have somewhat of a stronger tone than my usual writings. I also want to preface this by saying this article is not written to Church leaders who do not have online options right now in their Church. I am speaking to the people who have turned their back on the Church right now due to it being online, and to people who refuse to worship simply because Church is online. Quite frankly, I am sort of tired of the ignorance behind online education and online learning. We have become people who are close minded, do not connect dots, and we simply do not think or give thought to what we say. For example; we have no problem propping a 2-year-old down in front of an iPad with a learning app while we do something else. We fully believe that child is learning, right? Yet, those same adults make every excuse in the book as to why online education doesn’t work, or online church is not Biblical and does not work. But, we trust a 2-year-old is learning from an animated teacher – on an iPad, – right?
When I entered Bible college several years ago it was on campus and I loved it, however, after my fourth and fifth child, on campus was no longer an option. My choice was either to drop out or simply take the same classes online. I chose the latter, and completed both my undergraduate and graduate degrees online. I had to buy the same $70-$100 massive Theology books for my online classes. I had to watch hour long lectures online. I had to write 30-page Theology papers, in which I received the same harsh criticisms from my professors. I participated in “real” commencement ceremonies on campus and I have two “real” diplomas in my house.
Your ignorance to Church online does not conform the Church to what you believe it is or isn’t. The Gospel is the Gospel. The Holy Spirit is the Holy Spirit. YOU are the one missing out on what God is doing right now – not the Church! YOU are the one not being challenged right now – not the Church! This is not the first time our nation has faced a crisis. Read for yourself 20 of the worst epidemics and pandemics in history. And I am not only talking about pandemics. Our nation has faced wars and attacks. Read here some of the worst terrorist attacks in America. Through it all, the Church has not stopped sharing the Gospel. The Church has not stopped preaching the Gospel, praying, leading people to Jesus Christ. The Church thrives through adversity and will continue to thrive through adversity.
Today, the Church is learning how to minister online and MANY people are converted daily. That’s because the Church is not a building. It is people who live as disciples of Jesus Christ who are determined to live out the great commission regardless of whatever crisis our nation is facing at any given moment.
Proverbs 2:6 “For the LORD gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding.”
Let’s Look Back…
I am not sure what your Bible says, but in my Bible, in Acts, the first subheading in Chapter 1 says “The Establish of the Church.” I cannot find anywhere in Acts which says the Church is a building, with a preacher, and people MUST congregate in a building to hear the Gospel, until there’s a crisis – then the Church will cease to exist because it’s impossible to hear the Gospel message if it’s not inside of a building.
Now granted, the Bible does not say Church is an online function either – but here is how the New Testament Church is defined:
The New Testament Church renders the Greek meaning ekklesia, which mostly designates a local congregation of Christians and never a building. It is a public assembly. Although it is not considered a building the early Church met inside homes in very small groups. The largest home could fit at best 50 people; however, this was not the norm. Most groups met in small gatherings. Luke considered the Church establishment at Pentecost when the Holy Spirit was poured out empowering the Church to fulfill the words of the prophet Joel. (Joel 2:28 “I will pour out my spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy.”)
At one time the Spirit seemed to be only available to prophets, kings and judges. The Spirit at Pentecost was available to all believers to spread the Good News of the Gospel. The Jerusalem Church grew daily through the bold preaching of Peter and John and through the love of other believers. But remember, Church growth did not happen inside a Church building. Peter and John were traveling preachers, if you will.
The infant Church was not without opposition as many threats were against the Church to stop its spread of the Gospel. New converts were beaten, thrown into prison, and put to death – but the Church continued to spread. The threats to the Church did not stop the Church, it only served as a catalyst to continue its spread. Saul, later Paul, tried to destroy the Church until he met his match when he was confronted by the living Jesus Christ on his way to Damascus. Converted Paul helped grow the Church (traveling) throughout Judea, Galilee, and Samaria.
The Bible teaches us how the Church was birthed, threatened, but continued to thrive. Even some of the Early Church Fathers were martyred but it did not stop the Church from continuing with the spread of the Gospel. If opposition meant the demise of the Church we would not be here today still learning and growing as disciples of Jesus Christ!
Isaiah 40:8 “The grass withers, the flowers fades, but the word of our God will stand forever.”
So What Does All of This Mean?
What does it have to do with online church?
Jesus Christ commanded His disciples to go and makes disciples of all nations. In short, the Gospel message does NOT stop when we face a crisis! The Gospel message is supposed to be preached and shared by any means. Online Church is still a gathering of people. Worship is still happening. The Gospel message is still preached. Disciples are still being made.
The COVID-19 crisis has put certain limitations on the Church at the present moment, but I truly believe the limitation is within the minds of people who do not have the ability to think outside the box. To believe the Church cannot function as a Church through an online platform for a short season – is ignorance. More people can be reached to hear the Gospel online rather than in person, so why can’t the Church function through an online setting?
I am on staff at Bellevue Baptist Church in Memphis, TN, and I help with our Sunday live stream services. We have people watching from all over the world. We have people watching from California, Florida, Indiana, Venezuela! We are reaching people with the Gospel message not only in Memphis, TN – but beyond! People are being saved. The gathering of people has NOT stopped because of COVID-19. We have simply used our minds, creativity, and resolve, to continue to spread the Gospel message.
I can’t wait to go back inside the building to worship together again. I can’t wait to see people again. I can’t wait to hear my pastor in person again. But I will not stop gathering together online just because it’s online. The Holy Spirit is not confined by what I believe He is – nor what you believe He is or how you think He can evoke His message into the lives of people.
You are the one missing out.
You are the one who will not grow as a disciple of Jesus Christ.
You are not learning how to make adjustments during times of change.
Like it or not, our nation will go through another crisis.
The Church will sustain.
Will you continue to make excuses?
Will you continue to believe you have all the answers?
Will you continue to complain and be upset because life has thrown us a curve ball?
Or will you allow Jesus Christ to show you the WAY?
Will you become a new person today?
Don’t turn your nose up at online Church. In no way did the Church expect COVID-19 to disrupt our lives the way it has. March 7, 2020 was the last “normal” Saturday in our nation. The very next Saturday we were all hiding inside our homes with hordes of toilet paper! Church leaders have done their absolute best to make quick adjustments while continuing to preach the Gospel message and make new disciples.
Many people have come to the faith.
Today, make the decision to come to the faith too.
Don’t close your mind and your heart to what God wants to do in your life.
Let Him change your life today!
Open up your computer.
Find a church online today – and be saved by the grace of Jesus Christ.
~Saleama A. Ruvalcaba, MATS
(If this message was not meant for you then share it with the person God wants you to share this with.)