I have been asked by Ground Level to write a paper on the importance of gathering. This is in the light of the fact that, following the pandemic, approximately 1/3 of church members across all denominations have chosen not to return to church but are content with connecting online from home. This may be for a variety of reasons. It could simply be that they are not well enough to return or that they have a condition that makes them more vulnerable. It could be that they have found other things to do with their time that they find more rewarding. There may be many reasons. However, whilst online church has fulfilled (and will continue to fulfil) a function for some people, it is not the same as being in the room, whether on a Sunday morning, in home groups or in other gatherings.
As people, we are created for relationship with one another. It is only in the context of relationship that the body of Christ can truly function. It is only when we are together that real love can be given and received. It is only when we gather that the Holy Spirit can flow amongst us. I may be able to connect with a service on the other side of the world and be blessed by their worship and by the word that is shared, but it is only through relating to brothers and sisters who know my strengths and weaknesses that true discipleship can take place. Online is good, but gathering is better.