For those who cannot attend in person church

I believe that Christians should seek to gather as best and as maximally as possible. This means that when the pandemic happened and many churches relied on things like Zoom and Facebook, I argued that this counted as the church gathering.  I do believe that where possible, we should seek to meet in person, embodied, face to face. However, this isn’t always possible and so other options that allow us to connect with one another, to “be together”, even “virtually” count.

This is important because in my article the other day, I was writing about those who are no longer attending church and I commented that if they haven’t been back in person, then it is pretty likely, sadly, that they never are coming back.

However, whilst for some, this means that they have gradually disengaged from faith and the church, this is not true of everyone.  There have always been a small but significant number of Christians who would love to be part of the church gathering but  it simply isn’t possible.  The pandemic alerted us to the need but it was always there.  Those not attending a physical gathering will include some who were unable to before the pandemic but it will also include those whose health was affected during COVID (not necessarily due to COVID itself -for example, they may simply be a little older and more vulnerable) and so are not able to get along in person. 

The reason that they are unable to join in person may be to do with their physical health including frailty and physical impairments which even with work on access still meet significant barriers in terms of transport to and entry into he building or participation in the meeting.

However, barriers may also be emotional and mental. For example, some people may be suffering from PTSD. In fact, there will be those experiencing a form of PTSD in relation to pandemic and so are still genuinely struggling with being out and about and crowds.  Sadly, for some, their mental health issues and/or PTSD relates to experiences in church.

For those reasons, I believe that we should be continuing to seriously think about how we look after, shepherd and help those who cannot come in person to connect.  I would seek to include the following:

  • At least ensure that talks are recorded.
  • Consider the possibility of a live stream.  This may not necessarily be publicly accessible and may be limited through Zoom to those who have signed up as needing such provision.
  • If people do join you via Zoom, consider ways to include them in the gathering.
  • You may wish to provide online provision at alternative times during the week such as through a podcast, live event on Facebook or a Zoom prayer meeting.
  • Do find ways to help people be connected into the church. Yes, use technology but don’t make it all about the technology.  Visit people, take the church to them, arrange for a number of people to come together at the person’s home to take communion together.

I’m sure you can think of things to add to this list.

Also, if you are someone who has become physically isolated from church and would like help to connect back in, please use the contact form.

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