Megachurch pastor John MacArthur has said he does not believe church held online counts as genuine church because it goes against the biblical definition of worship.
MacArthur made the remarks during a Q & A session at Grace Community Church, the congregation he has led since 1976.
The session was included in an episode of the podcast Grace to You, which is part of his radio ministry.
In the episode, a church member asked for MacArthur’s opinion on church services and worship online.
“Zoom church is not Church,” MacArthur replied.
“It’s not Church. It is watching TV. There’s nothing about that that fulfils the biblical definition of coming together, stimulating one another to love and good works, coming together.”
“The definition of a Church is crystal clear in the New Testament. We see the picture of it. They came together the first day of the week. They worshiped the Lord, they prayed...It was fellowship and it was the breaking of bread in the Lord’s Supper.”
He continued: “We are only the Church when we are together.”
“The Church is the Church when it corporately worships, when it corporately prays, when it corporately hears preaching of the Word of God.”
MacArthur stressed how online bible groups and services can serve as an aid to the ministry but could not replace physical gathering.
Throughout the various lockdowns imposed by the US government to halt the spread of the virus, the California-based congregation decided to keep its doors open resulting in a fine by the government. In August this year, MacArthur also acknowledged a covid outbreak had taken place in the church.
In August this year, Grace Community Church reached a settlement with Los Angeles County and California and officials were ordered to pay the $800,000 (£596,388) in church legal fees.