On March 22nd of 2020 an unprecedented event occurred. This wasn't the first time that a widespread disease afflicted human-kind, nor was it the first time that health measures were taken by a human government in order to mitigate the risk of an epidemic. The unprecedented event that occurred on Sunday, March 22nd of 2020 was the physical absence of worshippers gathering as the visible Church of Jesus Christ in the United States as well as other places around the world. The 10 person gathering limit issued by the Centers for Disease Control led to the widespread closure of house's of worship across the country. Up to that point in Church History there had never been an example of this magnitude in which faithful Christians avoided the physical gathering together to worship Jesus Christ and study His Word in a community of fellowship.
The typical reason offered by many Christian leaders in an attempt to justify the temporary closure of churches was something like this, "Christians in the past didn't have the technology that we do in order to gather virtually." This explanation sought to make a case that because of technology and livestreaming we can still fulfill the Biblical command to gather together by simply doing so virtually. And in many ways this led to the death of about 1 out of every 5 churches in America according to Barna research group. In my opinion it was a mistake to convey that a virtual gathering was a viable substitute for in person gathering, even with good intentions and on a temporary basis. Hindsight being 20/20 (no pun intended) we can now see clearly that many Christians have opted to make virtual church attendance a permanent substitute for the physical gathering of believers, and this phenomena has only exacerbated the problem of anemic Christianity in the United States and abroad.
Before you read any further I want to make a few things clear. 1.) Livestreaming and technology are useful tools for advancing the message of Christ to unchurched people. 2.) Regular in-person church attendance is the normative expectation of faithful Christians but there are limited exceptions for those who are vulnerable and immuno-compromised during a pandemic. 3.) Church attendance as a legalistic concept is wrong. However, the Bible does present church attendance as a community driven way of life for the believer in general. Livestreaming is not a viable substitute for the Biblical command to gather together, except in very rare. extreme, and special cases.
This article is primarily concerned with the Biblical expectation upon Christians in general to attend church and engage in Biblical community as a lifestyle of obedience to God's Word. Christians who are highly vulnerable and immuno-compromised are outside of the general scope of this article and I would advise that person to be sensitive to the leading of the Holy Spirit as it relates to your schedule and practice of church attendance. I would also emphasize that whether you find yourself in a high-risk group or not, God is calling you to engage in daily spiritual disciplines to grow in obedience toward Him, even if you are unable to attend church for a season.Hebrews 10:25- "not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.