The Couch Church.
The good and bad of worshiping at home during a pandemic.
Written by Kasey May
I was born and raised in the church and I've been a regular church-goer my whole life. I was even one of those rare young adults who didn’t stray from church attendance as a college student (It helped that I attended Christian colleges, but still). I’m in no way trying to paint myself as the perfect Christian, I’m just trying to make the point that I was an extremely regular church-goer. So, in the wake of a pandemic and an unprecedented shelter-in-place order, this church-goer was encouraged to not go to church. Everything I’ve said so far might indicate that I’d take issue with this order; that maybe I’d be one of those Christians who thought the recommendation to stay at home was a violation of my right to corporate worship.
But no, that’s not where I’m headed with this.
It only took me a moment or two to realize the gravity of the threat of the virus and the subsequent wisdom in minimizing my exposure to it. So, with very little discussion, my husband and I decided––alongside many other Christians––that we’d simply worship at home. Social distancing and good hygiene may be our best defense against this strange disease, so we decided this would be a small way to make a big difference. Even though I’ve participated in corporate worship for most of my life, I took the news of worshiping at home––indefinitely––well. Quite well. In addition to being a lover of Christ, I’m also an introvert. That surprises some people who know me, but it’s true. I can be animated and outgoing and perhaps a wee loud occasionally, but I relish in being with myself; and I need that time to recharge, which is the true hallmark of introversion.
More importantly, as a believer I know that “church” isn’t something I merely attend, it’s something I am. As a member of the church, I don’t have to fixate on where I worship, the point is the worship itself. And worship––for that matter––is not something that should only be done on Sunday mornings in a church building. Worship can occur at any time, anywhere. The stay-at-home order didn’t pose a problem for me at all. In fact, my main concern was that it may have been too much of a good thing.
The first time me and my husband attended what I’ve lovingly coined “The Couch Church”, it was pretty amazing. About a year ago, my husband and I moved to an area that’s much more remote than the metropolis where we were born and raised (that “H”, Texas aka, Houston) and our options for a new church home were… let’s just say… minimized. But now, with the order to stay home, the world has opened-up to us! Even for corporate worship, we are no longer bound by proximity.
We can worship a n y w h e r e, provided they broadcast their services, of course.
This has been a game-changer and I’m almost embarrassed by how much delight it’s brought me. As an introvert who loves the Lord, this unprecedented crisis has uncovered the sweetest little silver lining: the most comfortable worship conditions known to mankind!
I’ve been uplifted by sermons from my favorite ministers in the world (not just in my area)
I attend service in cozy, stretchy clothes from my plush couch
There’s no commute
I am ALWAYS on time because service doesn’t start until I click on that little play icon
I no longer have to endure force-fed greet-your-neighbor sessions
I don’t have to stomach sheepish turn-to-your-neighbor directives
Worshiping from home inherently preserved everything I selfishly enjoyed about worship and briefly discarded all the less introvert-friendly elements! It’s kind of perfect.
Believe me, I understand the problematic nature of what I’m saying. I realize how unequivocally linked Christianity is to people. I know. But this pandemic has offered a bit of a respite from some of the social demands that often plague introverts in churches (and many other social settings for that matter) and all I’m saying is––in the spirit of total transparency––I’m enjoying this. And that’s not so bad, is it? God made introverts, extroverts, and ambiverts alike and neither temperament is inherently good or bad. The introverts, however, are having a bit of a “moment” right now. We don’t get many of them, so it would behoove us to acknowledge and appreciate this rarity. On behalf of introverts worldwide, I’d just like to say once again––We’re enjoying this.
This pause from our physical togetherness doesn’t have to stop our closeness entirely. This just means we should be working harder to stay connected by other means, and there are a billion ways to keep in touch these days. It was easy to check-up on “Sis. So-and-so” when I saw her every week. It takes much more effort to see how she’s doing when we aren’t under the same roof. To be perfectly honest, I could probably be doing more in that regard; and I will.
I realize The Couch Church is a temporary arrangement, but this new little congregation of two is proof of how unremarkable the church building is. Of course, it’s good to have a public place that’s dedicated for mass worship, but it’s arguably more powerful to transform any place into a place of worship.
As shelter-in-place orders relax and congregations make the decision to safely meet together again, I’ll be there... eventually. Between you and me, it might take me a couple weeks to untether myself from the comforting grasp of The Couch Church, but I’ll peel myself free at last. Please keep me in your prayers. I know it won’t last forever, but I’m thoroughly looking forward to another beautiful Sunday at The Couch Church where the pews are cushiony soft, the dress code is nonexistent, and no one is ever in my seat. Amen?!
Check out more of Kasey May's writings here: https://medium.com/@kaseymay