We are living in truly unique and unusual times. No other generation of the church-age has had so much information available to them with just a few strokes of the keyboard. If you want to hear a sermon on raising kids, you just punch it into YouTube and presto you have hundreds of options available to you.       Want to listen to a podcast on your commute to work on the all-important topic of glorifying God? Just download it to your phone, and push play. Don't feel like getting out of bed and enduring the hassle of actually driving over to your church? No problem at all, just get on the church's website and live-stream their service to your bedroom.
     With so many resources available to us, today's Christian may be better prepared to live out their faith more than any other generation before them. However, there is an increasing reality that as we interact with and harness this technology, for some of us our participation in the local church has started to become less critical.
     A very troubling truth about living in the digital age is that we don't have to be in a community with other people while we learn, we just push play and ingest what we want, in privacy, without all the headaches and heartaches that messy, needy, hurting, people bring into our lives.
     The only problem with this thinking is that it's anti-biblical at its core. The inconvenient truth for our generation is that the New Testament consistently calls upon Christians to meet with one another for encouragement, teaching, prayer, and worship:

  • "And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near." - Hebrews 10:24-25

  • "And they devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers." - Acts 2:42

  • "Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God." - Colossians 3:16

     Secondly, in the digital age, you can begin to listen to too much of what you want, instead of what you might need.
     Obviously, this is concerning to pastors who dedicate their lives to the local church and who are committed to the consistent shepherding of God's people. The question facing many pastors is 'How do you shepherd people who don't show up consistently and who aren't a regular part of the life of the congregation'?
As Pastor John MacArthur recently stated about this same topic: "Active involvement in your local church is imperative to living a      life without compromise. It is only through the ministry of the local church that a believer can receive the kind of teaching, accountability, and encouragement that is necessary for him to stand firm in his convictions. God has ordained that the church to provide the sort of environment where an uncompromising life can thrive, and His people can grow spiritually."
     Like most things, there is nothing inherently evil about using digital media to supplement the teaching we are receiving in our local congregations, but when the digital world becomes our primary world, then we are no longer living the kind of life that God has called us to live, together.

See you Sunday.

Dale Thackrah