The Psychiatric Implications of Online Church
The Rules: I have written rules for a post once before. It’s the one’s that make me nervous to post. But, here it goes.
- This is long. If you’re going to read it, take the time to read it. I won’t be offended if you don’t. I won’t even know if you don’t.
- Do not be hateful/provoking/dumb if you decide to comment. I’m all for discussion. But don’t be ridiculous.
- Realize that this is in no way a professional opinion—medical, theological, psychological. Nope. Don’t even try to make it that.
- This is not directed at any specific ministry. It’s just something I’ve been thinking about. Nothing more.
Suggestion: Check out Michael’s CD if you haven’t already.
Psychiatry– the branch of medicine concerned with the diagnosis and treatment of mental disorders. (Thank you, dictionary.com).
In any new patient visit to a medical setting, you will be asked multiple questions about multiple “systems”—respiratory, cardiovascular, endocrine, etc. Most of these systems will also be examined.
One of those systems is “psychiatric”. Mental health. How is someone’s mood? Is this person capable of understanding his or her condition? Are they capable of making decisions? Is there immediate potential that they could harm themselves or someone else?
These are all things that take place in a practitioner’s mind, mostly without you realizing it.
Seem like overkill? It isn’t.
It’s a psychiatric disorder that is the #1 cause of disability in the US.
It is an extremely common occurrence, even when it is not an “extreme” illness.
I say all of these things because, well…
One of the most important things when taking care of patients in healthcare is finding out if they have support.
New baby? New diagnosis of cancer? Depression? Difficulty coping with the loss of a loved one?
“Who is your support system?”
I have to think that “church” was once a very common answer—and you do still hear that.
But I also heard someone say “Well, I don’t actually go to church anymore. I watch online. Some church out in insert random state here.”
I have to wonder…
What is it going to look like in 20-40 years if so many people decide to go with the online option?
Now, don’t hear what I’m not saying.
I have often loved the ability to watch a service when I’ve been home with a sick kid or I’m working a weekend at the hospital.
I’ve heard stories of people in other countries who wouldn’t otherwise have access to a church be loyal attenders who bring people alongside to form a new community.
I think it’s fantastic for such things.
But let’s be real. Here in the developed world, it’s a slippery slope.
Go with me here.
How much nicer is it to sit at home and sip your coffee in your pj’s, half watching a sermon, half playing with the kids/watching the game/doing homework/cleaning the house—all while feeling that we have “connected”?
So, perhaps, instead of being there every time the doors are open, we make it every other week. Because it’s raining now/too hot to get out/snowing again…
No worries! We can watch online!
And then when no one notices that we’ve been gone, we can get offended and gripe about how unfriendly/dissatisfied/done with the people of the church we are.
But I suppose that’s for a different post…
It just seems that getting up and getting everyone dressed and actually going to church just isn’t quite as valuable anymore.
It’s a simple truth that the more accessible something is, the less value it carries in a society.
Think about it.
And I don’t think that “church” is exempt from this list.
Going means we have to actually talk to people. *Gasp*
It means if the family was fighting on the way, they might see some tear-stained cheeks.
It means if I go consistently, someone may actually ask me where I am if I’m not there one week.
On the flip side, it also means if I
don’t show up, people will be there to support me. They can help give me ideas on making our life as a family run smoother because some people have “been there”.
And people will actually be able to get to know me.
Again, don’t hear what I’m not saying.
I think the “online” idea has its place.
But I do think it’s going to change our society—and not simply for the better.