Is Corporate Worship Optional?

I’m beginning to suspect that a lot of us Protestants have a pretty low view of corporate worship (as something that’s optional and nice to have, but certainly not essential to our faith). Some in our ranks (though certainly not all) seem perfectly fine with online church and are in no hurry to return to the pews.

On one level, this is perfectly reasonable, as we’re grappling with a pandemic that has killed tens of thousands of our neighbors and family members, and Christian charity demands that we care about everyone’s safety. But online church isn’t a viable long-term strategy for healthy churches. It’s our least-bad option right now. So I can grit my teeth a while longer.

But on another level, it’s a little unnerving to see so many of us shrug our shoulders at losing something that previous generations saw as precious and worth dying for.

Is church just something we can watch on a screen, or is it a place where the Lord uniquely comes to His people (and us to one another)? Or is it like a TV show or a Youtube video, which we can consume and discard without further thought?

If we must stay home (assuming such orders are reasonable, based on science, temporary, and not discriminatory), shouldn’t it hurt us? At least a little? And if we’re not aching to return to church, is it any wonder that our friends and family feel the same way?

About Stan Guthrie

Stan Guthrie is an editor at large for Christianity Today magazine and for the Chuck Colson Center for Christian Worldview. His latest book is God's Story in 66 Verses. He also is author of All that Jesus Asks: How His Questions Can Teach and Transform Us, Missions in the Third Millennium: 21 Key Trends for the 21st Century, and A Concise Guide to Bible Prophecy. He is co-author of The Sacrament of Evangelism. Besides authoring, writing, and editing books, Stan is a literary agent, bringing together good authors, good books, and good publishers. Stan writes the monthly Priorities colum for He has appeared on National Public Radio's €œTell Me More,€ WGN's Milt Rosenberg program, and many Christian shows, including The Eric Metaxas Show and Moody Radio'€™s €œNew Day Florida.€ A licensed minister and an inspirational speaker, he served as moderator for the Christian Book Expo panel discussion, Does the God of Christianity Exist, and What Difference Does It Make?
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