by Afton Rorvik
I have not been inside a church building more than a few times since COVID-19 first hit. I love the church. I believe in her. And yet I find the arguments among churchgoers over masks, vaccines, and politics SO disheartening. And confusing.
The few times over the past years that I have stepped inside a church building, I have felt overwhelmingly conflicted and sad. In one church, I found myself among only five or six masked participants. In another church, I sat in a group of masked participants, some of whom took off their masks as the service progressed.
I struggle to walk in the actual, physical doors of a church.
But I love the church. And I still participate. Online. Every Sunday morning my husband and I log on to an online church service from our basement. We watch and worship. And then we discuss and pray. Our Sunday mornings give us life. And hope. And help us grow in our faith.
Because we plan to relocate soon, we have started watching churches online in the town where we hope to live. We have watched with fascination at how some of these churches embrace their online audience. One church announced a plan to hire an online pastor.
I wonder if this movement toward church online will bring healing in its wake. I pray it will.
I wonder if those maimed by church abuse will find comfort and safety in church at a distance for now.
I wonder if millennials, whose parents took them to church as children and teens, will feel curious enough to return now and then to church by tuning in online in anonymity.
I wonder if introverts, who struggle with small talk and greeting strangers, will find a new measure of delight in church by attending online Sunday services.
I wonder if people, like me, who feel sad and confused about the state of Christianity in America will find, through the online church, a renewed vision of the Jesus who transcends politics.
I wonder, has the pandemic offered Christians a gift by forcing us to think differently about what we call “church”?
I do miss the in-person connections I have found at churches over the decades, particularly smaller churches, and I plan to develop these sort of connections when we relocate. I do love the church in-person.
But I also love the church online and pray that she continues to thrive post-pandemic and point more and more people to the life-giving, larger-than-any-building, Jesus.
Afton Rorvik writes about living connected, something that matters deeply to her even as an introvert. She and her husband John have two adult children and love to walk and hike in Colorado. You can connect with Afton on her website or on Facebook, Goodreads, or Twitter. You can sign up for her monthly newsletter here.
Afton’s book Living Connected: An Introvert’s Guide to Friendship debuted in October 2021.