5 Ways to Church Away from Church
It is 10:00 a.m. EST on a Sunday and I am attending a live church service that is streaming on YouTube. At the beginning of streaming the live church service, I shared the link and images of the corresponding app to the church I am viewing, on some of my social networks, for others to opt in to the particular service. By the end of the service, I started thinking how strange and unorthodox it has to be, for millions of church-goers around the world to be in quarantine and not allowed to attend a church service, because of the global pandemic, known as COVID-19.
To go from dressing up, driving to church services and events on any given day, sitting on a pew or in a chair, giving tithes and offerings as cash, singing in choirs, serving in ministry and church auxiliaries, meeting, greeting, and fellowshipping with other long-standing or new members, welcoming visitors and inviting them to return, to now having the "luxury" of not leaving home, choosing one or a multiple of church services to attend, on any day that we choose, from any room in our homes, wearing anything we want, using digital payment options to give, singing like we're the lead singer of the choir, dancing like nobody's watching, and worshipping God however we feel comfortable, while operating a chat box to type our "hallelujah's" and "amen's", with others who are chatting during the entire service, without worrying about disturbing the Pastor while he or she is preaching, in an empty church.
I'm sure the idea of attending an online church is as difficult to grasp for many, as the idea of the using cell phones as computers, and making payments with debit and credit cards, are still new thoughts to process, but ready or not, here we are in this new age of digital technology. It is much easier to watch church on television than it is to use a handheld gadget, for many people, especially those who haven't seen a need to use a cell phone for anything other than talking or texting, let alone any other digital device. Still, times are changing whether we want to believe it or not, we all have to find ways to maintain and sustain our faith and belief, with or without being in quarantine. For years, I've had to find ways to keep my mind, body, and soul, spiritually nourished, renewed, and refreshed, whenever I wasn't able to be at church. Whether I was at home, at work, in my car, in jail, at a park, on a vacation, visiting friends and family, or simply sitting outside, here are my five ways to church away from church:
1. Communicating to God - Whenever you want to talk to God, praying and meditating are both effective ways that I use to talk to God and hear the voice behind my voice. Talking to God is my way of spiritually connecting God to myself and how I keep myself away from thinking unhappy thoughts. There have been many moments in my life where I was going through situations and circumstances that challenged me mentally, physically, emotionally, and financially, but there was no person who could help me out of what I was going through, and I was left with no choice but to turn to God and seek the guidance I knew I needed. That's how I learned to call on and talk to God first, to get the best answer, and God is how I know who to call on, so I know I'm not wrong with who I choose to talk to. That's how I knew I was right when I got married the second time, I talked to God about my husband first, something I didn't do in my first marriage because I trusted more in myself and others than God. You can talk to God anywhere, at anytime, about anything, just trust and believe, God will listen, answer, and be the best friend you could ever have, especially when you don't have one. You can even write to God, if you feel more comfortable doing with writing your thoughts, it's your choice.
2. Reading and Studying - Going to church for bible studies and following messages that are spoken and delivered by a spiritual leader (Pope, Preacher, Pastor, Minister, etc.) are great ways to learn to live according to biblical principles. How are spiritual leaders able to do what they do for us, every week, several times a week? They read and study when they're not in front of a congregation, of course, and they do it on purpose. That is something I witnessed my Grandparents doing whenever I visited them, in the comforts of their home, so much, they even had a prayer room full of bible-based books, devotionals, and study tools. One of my favorite books to use to help my understanding was a bible concordance, that helped me learn the history behind the books of the bible, with respect to the author of a scripture was and what was taking place during that time. The more I read and studied the bible on my own time, it made my church experience much richer. Instead of needing my spiritual leader to fill me up, whenever I attended church, I received revelations and confirmations. That made me want to read and study more. Plus, it makes church more enjoyable, as I listen, take notes, and reflect on what I'm hearing, enlightening and new, from God, through whoever is speaking the word.
3. Worship with Music - It doesn't matter what kind of music you like or love to listen to, there is a spirit behind it all. Music is a driving force and has always served as a center of what moves us to freely worship God. Music opens our hearts to feel things we may be afraid to feel and expresses ourselves in ways that we can easily respond to. When we're at church, we hear the music that is chosen for us. Depending on the denomination of the church we choose to attend, is the genre of church music that is playing. When we are at home, in our cars, or wherever, listening to a music source (Pandora, iHeart, SiriusXM, SoundCloud, YouTube, etc.), we have control over how we can have our own worship experience. Some online music sources offer church streaming (live and recorded). Now, you can get more in tune with God, tap into the spirit within you, the same way you would if you were at a church. Enjoy singing, dancing, or simply praying and meditating to whatever moves you to a place of worship! You can even worship without music, if you choose, sing from your heart, doesn't matter to God.
4. Communion - What happens if we're still in quarantine or you're not able to go to church for whatever reason (work, out-of-town, etc.) on the first Sunday of the month, when most churches practice and celebrate communion, in remembrance of Jesus? Again, it's great to have a church to go to that supplies the "bread and wine" that is used as a symbol of the "body and blood" of Jesus, that represents His transition from death to eternal life, as the redemption for our sins, although you can do the same thing in your home. If you click on the words "bread and wine", there is a link to Lifeway Christian Stores, one of the many places where you can purchase what you need to have communion, wherever you are. Or you can make your own communion, using your choice of crackers or bread, broken into pieces, and a wine colored drink. You can even have communion on more than just the first Sunday of the month. You can take communion whenever you feel the need to be reminded of why Jesus died for us. This is something I learned to do, years ago, from a married couple, who served in a ministry.
5. Fellowship Online - If you read my previous blog, "Social Networks - A Blessing in Disguise!", you must know, I consider technological advances an absolute blessing. The ability to connect with anyone in the world, family, friends, associates, consumers, potential customers, and total strangers, is worth the freedom we all have been given, to reach out and touch someone. Online activity and the traffic it creates is constant, like the "City that never sleeps", New York City, before the quarantine. From sunrise to sunset, someone, somewhere, is communicating in some form or fashion, on the internet. You can fellowship with someone in the most virtually convenient ways, such as creating a Facebook Group and hosting a bible study or simply posting a scripture to encourage others and open up a dialogue. Years ago, I created a Facebook page, Married to God and an Instagram page, Married 2 To God, both are dedicated to posting scriptures with relatable images and videos that make the scriptures easier to understand. Video chats are also a great way to reach out to people you attended church with. Whatever you do, make yourself at home, where you are the church! If you have a group or an online church, feel free to use the comment area below to send me an invite and thanks!
Now, ask yourself, with or without being in quarantine, what is it that you really miss about not being in church versus attending church online? Do you miss having someone else read and study the bible for you? Do you miss shopping to buy new clothes and shoes to wear for others to see? Do you miss feeling like you are missing being a part of something? Do you miss having some place to run to for your needs, when you feel like you have nowhere to run to? Do you miss feeling like people need you more than God does? Are you missing spending time with people or God? God is wherever we are, whenever we want and need God to be, God is love. Don't forget to remember, Jesus didn't need to go to church to have a relationship with God.
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