Over the next few weeks, due to coronavirus restrictions, many churches will be doing online services and you will be worshiping at home.
The current situation is a good reminder that the Church is the people, not the building. The buildings might close, but the Body of Christ goes on.
I pray that doing online services during these difficult times will keep people connected to Scripture and to each other, if only in a virtual way (Bob used the Zoom app for a meeting with Victor Street Bible Chapel). Going online may even reach completely new people or people who would otherwise be on the fringes of your congregation. God can use online services!
However, doing online services will also emphasize the unhealthy reality that many churches have become “performance” or “entertainment” oriented, with a strong laity/clergy distinction, even in traditions that formally reject sacerdotalism. Instead of worshiping God as a body, in which every member contributes, doing online services will only highlight how many churches today function as worshiptainment for passive people. Watching church on screen—as you would a movie or TV show—just makes it more official. “You just sit there and watch.” Maybe that will be a wake-up call that people need to be actively exercising their gifts within the church so that both can grow and be spiritually healthy.
While it makes sense for churches to do online services during this time, is there an alternative?
I think that, for many families, a better option will be to conduct worship at home. Until now, you might have been very passive in your faith. You have not taken ownership of your Christian life. And you might not have been teaching your kids Christian truth—leaving that job to others. Well, now’s the chance for your family to worship God together. You might start by reading the household passages in the NT (e.g., Ephesians 5-6 and Colossians 3).
This past Sunday, I worshiped at home with my kids. We do that occasionally anyway, but now we have even more reason to.
The “liturgy” was simple. We opened with prayer. As we prayed, we thought about our neighbors, what different people are going through, and how we all need God. Every kid had a different person on his or her heart and prayed for that neighbor. Then we read Scripture together, and I was pleasantly surprised that Daphne has made so much progress in her reading ability. Next, I taught a simple lesson on Eve’s fall into sin, and how the sin process works. As we discussed it, Zane and Daphne got into a debate over the historicity of Genesis 3, and I was amazed that a five and a seven-year-old had those kinds of questions. In fact, they raised many of the same questions, problems, and points that I’ve heard adults debate! What questions do your kids have, if they only had the chance to ask them? Then we closed with prayer.
Yes, the kids fidgeted. Yes, they moved around and I had to call their attention back to our worship. But we did it. Together.
Conducting family worship is simple. No one but God is watching, so don’t be embarrassed. Try it. You’ll be blessed.
For the most part, my kids do not understand what is happening and have not felt the social effects of the virus. The most disruptive thing they have experienced has been an extended spring break—and they’re not upset by that!
However, if they remember these days at all, I hope it will be as a time when we came together as a family to worship God and to depend on His mercies together.