Don’t give up meeting together!
The importance of community in the face of coronavirus
On Sunday night, my church met online for the first time via Zoom.
In Australia, gatherings of groups of people have been banned to help prevent the spread of coronavirus, which meant it was essential for us to meet this way instead of in our usual building. On Friday night, the youth group at my church met online in the same way.
I can understand that in the face of so much uncertainty and worry, “going” to youth group or church might seem silly, boring or even a distraction.
But when crisis strikes, we have to keep meeting together! Why?
To help each other stay faithful
The writer to the Hebrews explains why it’s so important for us to keep gathering even when it’s challenging:
Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching. (Hebrews 10:23-25)
As we wait for Jesus to return, we need each to help encourage and spur one another on in our faith. Our faith doesn’t get put on pause even if everything else has been! So, we still need each other for encouragement – perhaps even more now.
To keep reaching outwards
In Australia (and I know in other countries too) coronavirus has brought out the worst in some people. Panic buying, supermarket riots and flouting of guidelines don’t reflect well on any of us.
When we are afraid, we humans have a tendency to turn inwards, looking after ourselves first and foremost and becoming selfish, unpleasant and inconsiderate of others.
But if we keep meeting together in churches and youth groups, we can continue to push each other to look outwards. Churches are renowned for being the backbone of communities in times of crisis, reaching out to the desperate with practical help and the comfort of the gospel. Keep meeting with your church so that you can be a part of reaching out, instead of looking inwards.
To keep learning
Church and youth group is where we get to learn from those who have studied the Bible for longer than us. And while you could read a book or watch a YouTube video instead, there is definitely something to be said for learning together.
When you can ask questions, bounce ideas of others and have your personal preconceptions challenged, you will learn far more and be able to apply it better to your life and walk with God.
To have fun!
Right now, I think we all need a bit of fun. And let’s not forget: hanging out with Christians can actually be tons of fun! Youth leaders, ministers and service teams are figuring out creative new ways to make our online gatherings uplifting and joyful even in the midst of this crisis. At my church, we had a ‘bring your pet to church’ moment, and it was so fun seeing everyone’s cats, dogs and birds over video conference!
These are challenging times, but remember the words of Hebrews: Let’s not give up meeting together. We need each other, and together we can emerge from this stronger, faithfully following God and more conscious that he cares for us, no matter what.