We’re coming out of lockdown, and with this so-called freedom comes increased expectation. I see tweets saying online is no substitute for face-to-face relationships, but I wonder about that.
I haven’t enjoyed lockdown in some ways: Feeling repressed; the constant propaganda to wear a mask or get the vaccine; adverts designed to plant fear in us, but I have felt much more comfortable with church. Here are just some of the advantages:
1. You sleep too late, it doesn’t matter with Facebook or YouTube; just watch when you’re ready.
2. You need the loo, you can press pause, or take your phone into the bathroom; no need to feel self-conscious about leaving mid-meeting or disturbing anyone.
3. Someone says something that gets under your skin, you can take the time you need to process it; breathe; calm yourself down. If you want to completely switch off for a while, you can do that straightaway; no getting through chitchat, or even the journey home (you’re already there).
The church I’ve gone to the last few years have met in a community centre, and their leadership recently made the decision to close. A group of us have met on Zoom every week, and we’ve kept that up. I love that we stay in-touch, and a friend in America invited me to join the Bible Book Club she’s involved with. It’s been great to study books like Nahum and Zechariah (which are rarely preached on) with others, instead of on my own.
Still on the subject of online meetings, I can’t fail to mention this one, which I absolutely love. I’m in the Association of Christian Writers and one of its members, Maressa (a Dutch lady living in England), set up a weekly Zoom chat during lockdown. I was a bit nervous to go along at first, but I’m glad I did. Maressa’s so warm and welcoming, making everyone feel at-home and listened to. People join from all over the place and I love to hear about where they live or their current writing projects. I always leave the meetings smiling and feeling like I’ve been with friends.
I think certain online friendships can be just as enduring. Perhaps because we’re all different, some will lean more towards online and vice versa, but let’s not dismiss it just because face-to-face is starting up again.