Our family has gotten into the habit of streaming worship rather than attending in person. As adults, we meet regularly with our small group, but what is the downside for our kids?
Streaming worship services are a blessing to many church members such as shut-ins, those who are ill, etc. Many churches added online worship services to their ministries during the pandemic, making us consider both the benefits and limitations of remote worship.
Your question specifically asks about children, but let's first consider the adults. There is no indication in your question that your recent pattern is anything other than a choice based on your preference. It’s great that you attend a small group, but it is not a substitute for the rest of the church. Meeting in person only with your small group has a significant effect on who you view as being in your church community. Whether you realize it or not, your physical absence has made you no longer part of the larger church community.
Community is not just a nice bonus of church. It is an important part of who we are. In his first letter to the Corinthians, Paul stresses the importance of each member of the community: “Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ” (1 Cor. 12:12), and it is important for children to be there too. Paul goes on to write, “Those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable” (12:22).
Your children are also missing out on the church community as well as church education, children’s worship, youth group, and all the other activities that make a church community a blessing.
Finally, your family’s current habits are training you and your children to think of worship as something you observe rather than something we gather as a community to do. We participate in worship; we don’t merely watch. We praise God together, and we share each other’s joys and sorrows. It is hard to do that if we don’t know each other. Just hearing God’s Word preached isn’t enough. We strongly encourage you to get back in the habit of weekly in-person attendance.