Restless in my church pew, I struggled to go each week. My lip-syncing of the praise songs only fueled my discontent. I tried to listen thoughtfully to the sermons, take some notes, but I didn’t study them later. Church wasn’t working for me anymore. My kids had grown up, so I no longer had to go for their sake. I’d become a post-parent Christian. Pastors probably cringe when people like me, who could offer much more, simply pick up their Bibles and walk out the church door.
My grandmother called church-less people like me heathens. I wasn’t actually a heathen; I had become a cyber Christian. Why go to church when you can visit one virtually? I picked out some famous pastors and faithfully listened without the hassle of mega-church crowds. Easy online donations, no church potlucks, or stints as a Sunday school teacher. The best of all worlds.
Or was it? After two years of cyber church, I felt disconnected to my community. Jesus said to love my neighbor as myself. My cyber friends weren’t neighbors and I couldn’t really help them, beyond my typed words of encouragement. My cyber Christianity didn’t have an outlet for street level love and assistance. Sure, I could donate to global causes, but how about the sick mom needing help with her kids? Or the laid-off dad trying to keep his family in their home?
I needed to connect again—locally. I rolled up my sleeves and went back to church—not to lip sync, but to work. Every community has hurting people and I’m in God’s human resource department.
Church isn’t a perfect place, because people like me come inside. I bring my Bible, but I also bring along my selfishness. Yes, I’m still a work in progress. Spiritual maturity isn’t automatic. I can grow old quite easily, but I’ll only grow wiser if I invest my time with God. And that also means going to church—a real church that helps people with real needs. God knows that someday I may need help and that’s what the church was designed to do.
Church attendance has been declining—partly because of people like me who thought they didn’t need it. But God knows we do.
Cyber Christians can be an influence in their virtual world, but life happens in hospitals, schools, homes, street corners, and everywhere you find real people. Meeting someone in need is a God given chance to be like Jesus. And I discovered it cures restless pew syndrome real quick.