“I missed you at worship this Sunday,” is a common phrase I say or text to people. It’s probably because I’m a pastor and I look at things like church attendance (and absence). In asking this question, I often hear this response, “but I listened to the podcast.”
I love podcasts. In fact, my wife and I started one this year. I listen to podcasts everyday for information and personal growth. But listening to a podcast is not the same thing as going to church.
This “but” assumes church is really about downloading information, rather than corporate worship in the Spirit that leads to transformation. Yes, you can worship God by listen to a sermon while jogging, but it’s not the same as gathering with your brothers and sisters as Jesus speaks over His bride through His Word.
There is a dynamic that happens between pulpit and congregation that can’t be mimicked through headphones. For millennia God’s people have gathered to hear God’s Word preached, and we join with them each Sunday as we gather together to do the same.
Yes, you will miss the gathering from time to time, and listening online is a great way to catch up when you do. But don’t make skipping a habit, because downloading a sermon is not the same as hearing one gathered with the saints.