Opinion | Internet Church Isn’t Really Church - The New York Times

tagsChair Cinema



It is exhausting to show up in person, especially when compared to live streaming. But being together is the point.

Ms. Turner is a writer.

When I go to work on Sunday morning, I usually arrive 30 minutes late. Our 6-month-old kid woke up from a nap at 10 in the morning, just as our San Francisco church started playing the first chord of the hymn. My husband and I hurriedly dress the baby, feed and get in the car. After all the other children settled down, kissed him goodbye, walked upstairs and found our seat at the beginning of the sermon, we took him out of bed in the kindergarten in 20 minutes.

In this season of life, it is much easier not to go to church, and this is not only effective for baby parents. Today, more and more churches provide services on the Internet: The Church of Life in Oklahoma City launched the "Internet Campus" in 2006. In 2017, Connexus Church in Ontario began live streaming its service a year ago, and its online attendance

The number of people who showed up on Sunday morning. At Saddleback Church in Orange County, California, you can even share prayers through online forums without knowing anyone else. Just last month, celebrity pastor Judah Smith announced Churchome Global – essentially a church through an app, with a forum, and the ability to press a thumb on an icon when people’s hearts are floating on the screen Come up and pray for your compatriots.

Not all online churches are so flashy-many congregations just provide their services to those who cannot attend. For many church worshippers, it is more convenient to consume the church by consuming news, and it is more in line with our living habits than our lifestyle. Old-fashioned visit on Sunday morning.

However, the church calls. Unless I am not in the city, it is not negotiable for me to go to church (to sit in a room with others for an hour and a half on Sunday). At the same time, some people find themselves having brunch with friends or catching up with Netflix in bed. I’m sitting on a cushioned stackable chair in the Russian Cultural Center. My church rents us to serve us and sits at a disco party. Next listen to the sermon. About Jesus.

Live streaming of church services is nothing new. Since the advent of cassette tapes, churches have been producing and selling recordings of their sermons. The intention behind the live broadcast service is to enable everyone to access the benefits of the church and its accompanying community, prayer and worship through smartphones. But it assumes that God appears to us one-on-one primarily as a person rather than as a community of believers. This is not what the Bible says. Jesus said in Matthew's Gospel: "Two or three people gathered in my name, and I am there." This passage implies the need to be part of our community in contact with God, not alone.

In his letter to the early Christian community, the apostle Paul described the church as a group of different but equally necessary members. When the Corinthian church debated the importance of various spiritual gifts, Paul wrote to remind them: "The body is not made up of one member, but made up of many members." He wrote: "The eye cannot say to the opponent: ' I don’t need you, nor can I say to my head, "I don’t need you."" Later, he said, "If one suffers, everyone suffers; if one member feels honored, then everyone will rejoice. Encourage."

According to 2015 data, religious belief in the United States has declined

. Religious institutions increasingly reflect an isolated community, and the Chujim Globe is the best example of the direction of American Christianity-your living room, telephone, TV. You no longer need to leave home to interact with other believers. You can do all the work from the comfort and isolation of your own home.

But this kind of personal, isolated church experience is poorer for those of us who can go.

(Streaming services are of course very important for home users.)

In this day and age, everything from appointments to grocery deliveries can be arranged and completed almost instantly. Getting church attendance from an app should no longer be a thing. When we are together, we can be the best members of the body-we can mourn when we observe and wipe away our tears, just as we can be happy when we can share smiles and have face-to-face conversations. Studies have shown that regular participation in religious ceremonies and


with one

. I suspect that the same phenomenon will happen when online churches replace real things, because the fact is that the community is good for us. We need each other.

Two Christmas days ago, my husband and I managed a second miscarriage within three months. That period was full of anxiety and debilitating diseases. There are so many Sundays, church services using streaming media are much better than getting up, and some Sundays I can’t get up at all.

But most Sundays, we sit in those stackable chairs. When anxiety and nausea became so severe that I could not work, the church came to me. Those friends who have served me are now sitting at my front door, eating a meal, a book or praying together for a few minutes. I continue to meet with my bible study group every Tuesday night, and the women from the church know nothing about what others are going through. They went for another miscarriage, and then I gave birth to our son, who had to spend time in the hospital.

Neonatal intensive care unit

. When we got home, they brought flowers and meals.

With the holidays approaching, I have felt myself moving in more than a dozen directions. When shall we buy that tree? What traditions should we establish for a family of three? Have I done enough work to take a few days off around Christmas? When can I pack my bags and go to meet my family? There seems to be a lot of things to do all the time.

But I didn’t want to put the church on the background of the TV when wrapping gifts, but found myself being drawn to those stackable chairs, and hymns came down, and the sacrament bread and cups handed me reminded me that they are the body of Christ. Blood. I want to hear the voices of children singing during the "Lessons and Carols" service, smell the musty air in the center of Russia, and eat too many donuts in the common areas of the same people as my church.

So, this is the beauty of the church: it is not a perfect church or a convenient church, nor is it easy to integrate into my life, but without it, my life will be insufficient. I can still believe in God without a church, celebrate Christmas without a church, or go once a year. But I don’t believe that without a true face-to-face Sunday morning church, I really wouldn’t be a Christian. Disco ball and all.

Laura Turner is the author of an upcoming book on the cultural history of anxiety.

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