When cars came out, we described them as horseless carriages. When TV came out, it was treated like radio with pictures. We tend to have to tie change to the familiar. We tend to start with the known transferred to the unknown.
Right now, our services on Facebook and Zoom resemble what we already know. We describe it as online worship, though it is more like networking or physically distanced worship. We use a familiar format, like radio with pictures.
Now we are starting to see the changes. There are combined services with churches and people that we would have never had before joining in with us. We have some experimental offerings even if they are still tied to the familiar. A church in South Carolina, for example, uses a “pre-game live countdown” to the worship service with informal questions and games to mimic the fellowship we would do before the service started. It was described as trying to mimic the lobby or narthex banter we had in person. A church in Pennsylvania did a drive-in worship with social distancing, the pastor standing on the bed of a truck to give the sermon with a bullhorn. It was not just compared to the drive-in movies but how Jesus stood on a boat to speak.
There are Zoom Bible studies and children’s moments, there are texts to be sent out during the passing of the peace, there are weekly check-in calls that include prayer lists and news of how we are doing. These are only a few examples of how we’ve all adapted. Yet as TV moved beyond being visible radio, worship online will also be changing too. It will add and change from the way it is done in person.
Before, we had some who worshiped in the traditional service and the contemporary service. Now we have another congregation of members who worship with us online. So when we return to our churches we will have the face to face and digital experiences. How do we connect and not divide over this?
Have you had the chance to watch worship services that your other family members and friends attend?
Have you looked on Facebook at other churches’ posts of encouragement?
Have you joined in a cause or donated to a ministry project that you never thought to before this?
This isn’t just our chance to see the beginning and growth of online worship into something God will use for his glory. This is our chance to see the beginning and growth of our own aligning worship to what God is doing and renewing in us for his glory.