3 Reasons Why Your Family Shouldn’t Stream Church This Weekend

by Greg Palys | Dec 7, 2021 | Articles

The pandemic has shifted many of our habits. Some should continue, some should not. How we “do” church is no exception.

During the pandemic, there was a time when streaming was the only way we could hold church services. Even churches that had little prior interest in “streaming” were finding ways to get their church service to their congregants at home. In the process, many have found that streaming has other potential benefits:

  • Those who are sick, on vacation, or COVID-cautious can still maintain a connection to their church
  • Those who are unable to leave their home due to medical challenges don’t have to feel so shut-in
  • People preparing to move to a new town can preview multiple church services online to get a flavor ahead of time
  • Someone who might not consider going to a church in-person can more easily stumble upon and watch a church service

The Temptation to Stream Church

However, streaming also brings with it one major challenge. Streaming provides an easy out when physically going to your church’s building would be possible, but also tiring or inconvenient. Parents, in particular, are vulnerable to this temptation. I know this because I am a dad to three young kids.

We parents are a tired bunch. Weeks are long and children are hard to get out the door early on a weekend. A wave of relief might wash over a tired parent’s mind when considering the convenience of “couch church.”

This is my charge to you, the tired parent: don’t do it! Here are three reasons your children need you to make the hard choice to go to church this Sunday.

1. Children Need to See the Difference Between “Watching Church” and “Being the Church”

One side-effect of widespread streaming has been the continued shift in how we see church. “Church” has become most closely associated with the content we consume when we watch an hour-long worship service. If this is true, then “church” is similar to a show you can stream on Netflix—except that you know the people on the “church show,” the content is more spiritual, and you might sing along.

However, the New Testament describes church very differently. Whether referring to the universal Church (all Christians everywhere) or to the local church (Christians gathered physically, intentionally, and officially), the Church is something you participate in. The Church is a “body” with many members (1 Cor. 12). Each member has different gifts meant to build up the whole body. Each Christian is a “living stone” not meant to exist independently but as part of a “spiritual house” (1 Pet. 2:5).

Examples of how we are to treat one another when we are gathered abound. Just a small sampling include: love one another (John 13:34), serve one another (Gal. 5:13), bear with one another (Eph. 4:2), and speak to one another with psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs (Eph. 5:19).

To put it bluntly: you can’t do this in your jammies—on your couch watching TV. When we neglect participating in church to watch church instead, we teach our children that the two are interchangeable. They are not!

2. Children Need to See That You Need to be There

Church is indeed something we actively participate in. But this does not diminish the fact that we do get something out of it. There is a reason watching a church service is different than watching Netflix. A church service is crafted to bring us to worship. Songs are chosen to set our minds and affections on God. The sermon sends streams of living water into our weeks. Prayer interspersed throughout the service reorients our desires. We need all of this!

Now, to some extent, all of this is possible to receive via streaming. However, streaming will always be lacking. Only in-person will you be encouraged by the many other saints around you, joining in the same songs and prayers. Only in-person can you enjoy the comfort and security of taking Communion with your church family.

We are needy, and we only get the fulness of what our Sunday church gatherings offer if we participate in them fully. When you make the choice to fully participate, you paint a clear picture for your children every week that you genuinely need this—and they do too.

3. Children Need to Interact with Christians Outside Your Family

Finally, when you choose to stay home, you choose to deny your children of the wonderful blessings provided by others in your church. Let me reiterate: I can fully appreciate how challenging it is to do a Sunday morning. It’s hard enough to get out the door, but then the simple act of going to church makes Sunday and the rest of the week harder. Naps are skipped; energy is expended. Further, there are some really well-produced Christian shows and Sunday School lessons that capture your child’s attention in a far less tiring manner—all from the couch.

However enticing it is, though, no kid-friendly, at-home content can replace the witness of other saints modeling Christianity for your children every week. Even if you are diligent to disciple your children in your home, they benefit from the different personalities and gifts within the body of Christ. This is one of the main goals of Sunday School: the strengths of the church added to yours. This is also why children benefit from sitting in the worship service, where they can not only hear about Christianity but see it on display.

Do Not Neglect Meeting Together

When you expend the energy to go to church, your children benefit. You do too. It is no wonder why the Bible tells us not to neglect meeting together (Heb. 10:25). As with all things, technology is a gift that we must steward. But with streaming now available and pandemic habits perhaps still lingering, we must resist the temptation to stay home if we could go. It will be hard, but I promise you: it will be worth it.