By Snr Ps Beh Soo Yeong
For almost three years now, we have had our worship services live streamed publicly on a YouTube channel. This has served us well, especially during the weeks when we could not meet together for worship. However, it was never meant to be permanent.
Hence, when it was allowable for us to re-gather, we quickly took the opportunity to do so physically, albeit with mask on and without singing aloud initially. Thankfully, all restrictions have been progressively lifted. At this juncture, about three-quarters of us are back on-site and many have shared that this re-gathering has helped us focus better when it comes to common worship and listening to the sermons. Left on our own, we tend to get distracted, start multi-tasking (like washing clothes, preparing meals etc). So, coming back together physically for worship services is good and helpful.
However, we are still seeing quite some congregation members not returning to physical worship services, preferring the convenience of online ones in the comfort of their homes. Some may have stopped tuning in altogether and even a few might have left the church (which is alright if they are attending another Bible-believing church). We are concern that while the digital platform has become very handy, it is unfortunately also breeding a culture of convenience amongst those who are able to return but have chosen to participate in these services remotely.
As a leadership team, we spent some time in our Leaders Retreat in May to pray and deliberate over this matter. Here are our convictions:
We believe we are called as a people to gather physically to worship and serve the Lord regularly. After these three years of upheaval and disruptions, it is time for all of us—God’s people—to rally back and worship the Lord together physically.
We believe the sacraments (baptism, Holy Communion) are most meaningfully conducted and to be partaken in settings where believers are physically gathered with one another in God’s presence (i.e., at physical services for regular worshippers, or with a group of visiting believers for the homebound).
More generically, we believe God calls us into Christian community and the fullest expression of such a community is through embodied, face to face, interactions. This includes worship services, CARE Group meetings, prayer meetings and fellowship events. Therefore, we do not envisage having a permanent digital-based service or a totally online church presence at this time, even though that can be utilised from time to time in extenuating circumstances.
At the same time, we acknowledge that the digital platform can supplement discipleship efforts (e.g., classes, CG meetings, mentoring group meetings), especially when paired and enhanced with physical meetings. As such digital platforms may still be employed from time to time, when appropriate.
Therefore, after much prayer, discussion and collective discernment, the leadership team have decided that we will stop streaming our worship services publicly onto YouTube, with effect from the weekend of 26-27 Nov.
However, we are aware of circumstances which warrants us to provide continual access through a private link, to those who have an acute need for it, including:
Those who are physically unable to come because of prolonged health issues- e.g., those who are homebound or have limited mobility, or are on maternity or longer-term medical leave etc.
Those who are overseas.
Those who are not vaccinated and are worried of going out to crowded places.
Those who are serving in ministries (e.g., KFC) where you need to miss the on-site worship services regularly.
(If you need this access for the above reasons or beyond, please make your request at https://forms.gle/q2aTjgHbnnEHpGEU9 so that we will send you the private link.)
At the same time, we will also utilise the online platform in the following ways:
Like pre-Covid days, we will upload every sermon (not the whole service) onto our website in video form, so that those who want to catch up or view them again may do so.
Also, as an outreach to seekers who may not ordinarily walk into a church uninitiated (or are prevented from doing so) and might be more willing to explore churches online first, we will be uploading sample services from time to time onto the YouTube.
I know that some of you may not be too happy about this decision, but sometimes, what is good for us takes the form of a bitter pill. I hope and pray you will understand the intention and the reasons behind this move. We miss you, so come back home!