Jump Start # 2052
Psalms 34:3 “O magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt His name together.”
Over the weekend I was able to experience two different forms of live-streaming. Modern technology has made it possible for us to witness things without actually being there. And in many ways this is changing the face of how things are done. I was also sick this past weekend. Had the flu for the second time. I told my wife, next year I’m getting every shot known to mankind. Bring them all on, the flu short, pneumonia shot, shingles shot, rabies shot, distemper shot. I want them all. Having the flu two times is terrible. So, I was resting at home over the weekend.
On Saturday, two local high school teams were playing in sectional finals. They played about an hour from here. More than 7,000 were in the crowd. I got to see the game via live-streaming. I was glad that I didn’t have to fight the traffic home and had my own concession stand, my kitchen. On Sunday, I watched our worship services on live-stream. I was singing with the church family, praying with them, and I listened to two good sermons and got to focus upon the Lord. I was glad that I was able to do that. Live-streaming—a ballgame on Saturday night and church services on Sunday. Any difference? Any take-a-ways from that experience?
Here are some thoughts I’d like to share:
First, watching the ballgame was fine. I wanted to see the game and that’s what I saw. I really didn’t care about the crowd, the band, or the kids. It was the game that I was interested in. The next day, on Sunday, it was a different experience. Watching worship services is not the same as being there. Certainly, it allowed me to worship, but the church family didn’t know I was participating with them. There wasn’t a connection. It was ok, but not great.
Our verse today brings out an important aspect of worship that live-streaming will never fill. The Psalmist declared, O magnify the Lord WITH ME, and LET US exalt His name TOGETHER.” The “with me,” and “together,” represents fellowship. The key ingredient in fellowship is being together. Worship is more than hymns, prayers and preaching. Although the central piece of worship is God, it also involves us. All of us. There is something about us being together and doing the same thing.
Second, the value of live-streaming, is that it allows people to see what something is like before they come. They can, as some say, “check you out.” But the down side of this is thinking that simply watching “church” from my phone is all that there is to worship.
The very concept of worship means to give value or “worth.” We are esteeming God. We are telling God what He means to us. Why do I need you to do that with me? Why can’t I just stay home and do that? Why can’t I just watch it on my tablet and that be enough? Because God wants us to come together. Multiple times in 1 Corinthians, Paul said when you come together as a church. Coming together to worship. Our verse today emphasizes that.
It takes some effort to do that. You gotta get up and get cleaned up and get down to the church house. It’s easy to stay in bed in your jammies, and just pick up your phone and watch it. Little effort required for that. Worshipping with the church reminds us that we belong and we are connect to others. It’s not just about me. There is a work that we are engaged in together. There is a common love and a common concern that we share. You miss that at home in bed watching on your phone.
Third, that social interaction, fellowship, helps us spiritually. Our times are missing that. A person has hundreds of friends on Facebook, but what do you notice before the movie starts or at a restaurant? Everyone is sitting beside someone, yet they are all on their phones. We can text. We can post. We can share. We can like. But we have a hard time simply talking to someone face to face. Fellowship does that. It is among each other that we realize that we are not alone in this journey. It is among each other that we get encouragement, strength and help.
Fourth, will live-streaming replace church services? For some, it already has. But they are missing out. They are missing the interaction that takes place before and after services. They are missing the faces that they do not see on live-stream. They are alone and watching. They are not connected with others and participating mutually with others. They are worshipping from a distant. It’s like looking through the widow or being on the inside, sitting at the table and enjoying the meal. Which is better?
There is a vital place for live-stream. It is helpful for those who are at home, like I was. It is helpful for those in other places, who are wanting to learn and grow. But live-streaming should never replace the need for you and I to be together down at the church house. Watching doesn’t replace my being there.
While I was watching our worship on live-stream, I was looking at the audience and I thought, “My the crowd seems small today. Must be a lot out of town or sick.” I got down to the church building on Monday and looked at the attendance board, and the number was massive. A huge crowd. That really made me wish that I could have been there. All those faces. All those hearts wanting to magnify the name of the Lord.
Should a church use live-stream? It’s a tool. It’s like listening to a sermon on CD. It’s helpful, and useful. But nothing beats being there! Is there a fear that folks will just stay home and watch services on the phone? That will get old pretty fast. They are hurting themselves if they do. They will feel distant from others. They will not get the benefits of fellowship.
I had the chance a couple of years ago to go to the Rose Bowl game. I’ve always watched it on TV. TV or be there? Nothing beats being there! There is an atmosphere. There is something special about all the things surrounding it.
Remember the “with me,” and the “together,” when it comes to our worship. You really need to be there. Nothing beats it!