One of the many benefits for Christians is the access to what is happening in the wider world and the work of many ministries and the life of the church across the globe. We are able to pray more intelligently and direct our extra giving to work by ministries we can read about and see more easily.
There is a plethora of resources, from online Bibles and study tools to music to books and more, much of it made freely available by brothers and sisters desiring to bless and encourage the Church and to reach out to the unsaved.
Through online streaming and thanks to fast internet, many other features are available, such as live worship service broadcasts and conferences. Online video hosting sites have brought us the ability to hear and see many church-life activities.
There is such rich resource available to the Christian, in the free world at least, all through the technology of internet.
However... Among the many known pitfalls of the internet, such as vice and temptation, distraction and a heavy commercial presence that could lead to covetousness, (as well as false teaching and unbiblical representations of Christianity), perhaps one of the biggest drawbacks for the online Christian is the potential to withdraw from personal fellowship in the local church.
The internet hosts some really great teachers, sound in their doctrine, and there are numerous live-stream and recorded services from healthy churches. If we are not careful, we can substitute satisfying our spiritual hunger for teaching and even worship by doing it solo and not gathering locally for in-person, corporate church life and fellowship.
In the book of Hebrews, we are reminded to "not forsake the gathering together of the saints, as is the manner of some" (Heb. 10:25). God expects His family to get together regularly.
God by His Spirit has set each of us in the body of Christ, the Bible tells us, as a member, with the purpose of being a help to the rest of the body "each part doing its share (Eph. 4). We cannot say to anyone else, "I don't need you", nor "I'm not needed" (1 Cor. 12). All parts are needed and valuable. If we withdraw and only fill ourselves and meet our needs, we are both missing out on the ministry of God to us through others who know us personally and depriving them of the same.
The word "local" has become very familiar recently, as the grower and food sector has prompted many to "think global, act local" and "eat local". We can apply these simple little slogans to ourselves and the Church. Let's remember to be present with one another and gather together, despite the weather, the holidays, the busyness of life. Be your part in the "local" church.