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Bothered: A Letter to West Franklin

Bothered: A Letter to West Franklin August 14, 2021

West Franklin Family,

Most of you know this. Every Monday afternoon on the Brentwood campus, all seven campus pastors meet together with Senior Pastor Mike Glenn. This week we discussed on-line church and the impact 2020/Covid-19 had on this phenomenon. In passing, Pastor Mike said, “Before, people decided on Saturday night whether or not they will attend church on Sunday morning. Now, because they have the option of watching on-line, people decide on Sunday morning when they wake up.” For instance, if you wake up on Sunday and the kids don’t feel great or everyone is tired, you turn on the television and watch a service at home. Or, if it is raining outside and you don’t feel like getting wet, all you have to do is open your laptop.

This bothered me.

Not because I don’t think Mike is right. He is. And not because there aren’t many positives to having an on-line option. There are. It bothered me because I believe it reveals a deeper issue. I believe it is a symptom of a deadly spiritual cancer. It bothered me because I fear we (those of us who consider ourselves “church-going Jesus followers”) are increasingly devaluing the vital importance of being consistently present in corporate worship. Before Covid-19, corporate worship was optional for far too many of us. Now? It is swiftly and drastically being co-opted by the internet. For some strange and dangerous and deadly reason we are believing that watching a service on-line, or listening to a sermon later in the day (or week) is “just as good” as attending corporate worship.

It isn’t.

Again, let me be clear. I am for offering our services on-line. I am for providing music and sermons through social media venues. It has become THE front door of our church. People are finding out about us – first – by finding us on-line. Guests check us out on-line long before they attend in person. On-line church also makes it possible for those who simply cannot attend be a part of what is going on and engage (though limited) in worship. God forbid we have to endure another pandemic that forces quarantine. But if we do, on-line church will help us endure. There are reasons I am for on-line church. BUT…I am not for substituting on-line church for in person gatherings. It is not the same. The internet experience cannot do what gathering together, in person, can.

To be sure, gathering consistently in person is biblical and essential for your soul. Jesus meets us when we gather (see Matt. 18:20; Revelation 1:12-13, 20). We are able to obey the many “one another” commands in Scripture (“love one another;” “encourage one another;” etc.). We get to look at one another in the eye and remind each other who we are and Who’s we are. We get to hear from one another so we can bear burdens and pray for one another. We get to partake of the Supper together. We get to attend to the work of the Trinity – together. We need to remind one another over and over that it is, indeed, finished. I could go on and on and on. Attending corporate worship at the local church where you are a member will not get you into heaven. Nor will not attending keep you from heaven. Only Jesus can do that. This isn’t about being religious and legalistic. It’s not to add another burden to your already overpacked to-do list. It’s a plea for you to center your soul over and over and recall why and for whom you exist. . . with others.

Recently, I have had several people share how lonely and disconnected they feel; or how they have allowed themselves to fall into an unwanted sin pattern. Each one had not attended corporate worship in months. Some of you serve in some capacity (thank you!), then go home. Others of you attend a small group and go home. Still others attend a service while your child goes to a group. And your child misses corporate worship. And there are others of you who think you are “getting church” by staying home and watching on-line. Hear me: when you consistently miss gathering with other believers to sing and pray and sit under the Word together – your soul will suffer.

Cases are on the rise again. Debates over masks (particularly in schools) are raging. The pandemic continues to rear its ugly head. Some of you may not feel comfortable gathering in groups right now. Others of you may need to stay safe due to other loved ones in your life. I get it. This isn’t a guilt trip for those who may not feel comfortable at this time. This is merely a plea to evaluate the weight you put on corporate worship. Participating in it is not a Saturday night or Sunday morning decision. It is a commitment you make deep in your soul to consistently do – with others – what you were made to do: worship God.

God willing, I will see you in the morning with my Bible open to Matthew 6:9-13.

Because Jesus is Worth Everything,

Pastor Matt

 

What about masks at West Franklin?

At this time, our protocols will remain the same. Until further notice, we will continue worshipping at 9 and 10:30 am on Sunday’s as we have in recent weeks and months. If you would feel more comfortable wearing a mask – PLEASE wear a mask. If you don’t want to wear a mask, don’t. Do what you need to do so you can focus on what we are gathered to do: worship God together. We will NOT make a big deal out of who is or isn’t wearing a mask. We WILL be making a huge deal out of Jesus.

 


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