Is It Right If Christians Just Watch Services Online Instead of Going to Church?


Is going to church still as important today, now that watching televised sermons or online videos can deliver the church's message just as well?

Someone asked world renowned evangelist Billy Graham what is wrong with just watching church service on TV, pointing out that people would still be hearing the same message, according to Faith Wire. The only difference is that people would be hearing the message in the comfort of their own homes, the person asking the question added.

In his response, Graham reportedly expressed gratitude that some churches are able to extend their outreach through radio and television, and even the internet. Old people like him who have health problems rely heavily on these to hear God's Word, especially since they are too weak to be physically present at church.

But for those who have no physical issues, Graham is strongly encouraging them to still go to church. "I hope you'll also stop and realize what you'll be missing if you only watch a church service on television. First, you'll miss the opportunity to be part of the congregation—to sing with others, to give to God's work, and especially to get to know other believers and learn from them (and they from you)," he wrote on his website.

By not going to church, people are also missing out on the opportunity to serve Christ alongside fellow believers, Graham said.

Meanwhile, Christian commentator Ed Stetzer also has some thoughts on the matter. He believes that a church needs to go online in order to engage the culture. Since many people gather on social media nowadays, he said churches need to do the same to reach out to them.

However, he strongly suggested that people still go to church every Sunday to worship the Lord. He said believers who gather together in church achieve two things: advance the kingdom of God and hold each other accountable in covenant.

"I don't think an only online church can do that. (Yes, I am aware of online baptisms and the Lord's Supper, but we are discussing whether you should do that, not whether it is physically possible)," he wrote for Christianity Today.

"Participants of online church may cite avoiding traffic or other rationale as their motivation, and there are times when this approach may be necessary for exceptional reasons. However, I think that they may simply be avoiding (intentionally or unintentionally) real community," he said.