Today Norma Jean and I will be worshiping alone for the third consecutive Sunday. It seems strange. But it’s our new reality. At least temporarily.
With the COVID-19 “sheltering in place” guidelines probably your congregation has also been forced to suspend public gatherings. Many of you, therefore, will be watching online, either live streaming or a video. Some congregations may only have an audio transmission.
So, here are ten tips to help you worship today.
1. Approach worship with the same seriousness. While you may be wearing house slippers and sitting in a comfortable chair, don’t let your familiar, casual surroundings lead to a careless approach to worship. Regardless of where we worship, what the circumstances are, or how many are present, we still should worship in spirit and in truth (Jn 4:23-24).
2. Eliminate distractions. Turn off your cell-phone. Don’t thumb through a magazine while watching. Remove any obstacle that may keep you from focusing on your worship. As much as possible, try to watch the worship or listen to the sermon uninterrupted.
3. Open your Bible and follow along with the scriptures presented. Granted, some folks don’t normally do this when assembling with their church family. But they should. Following along in your Bible will help you stay engaged.
4. Take notes. Some people are note takers. Some aren’t. But jotting down the key points of a lesson will further help you stay focused. Reinforce the message. And help you retain it longer.
5. Pray along with the leader. If you’re watching live stream, there might be a temptation to just watch the person praying. Bow your head. Close your eyes. Pray along. In addition, you may want to add your own personal prayers. It might be a good time to involve other family members as well.
6. Sing along. It might feel weird at first, but join in the singing. Don’t allow yourself to be entertained by the singing, but be engaged in praising God.
7. Commune with Christ during the Lord’s supper. I understand some may have conscientious objections to taking the Lord’s Supper at home, but you can still focus on Christ and remember Him. If you are taking communion, have it ready to serve. And make it a special time for you and your family. (Incidentally, here’s a previous post as food for thought on this subject).
8. “Visit” other congregations. If your congregation doesn’t offer live streaming, or have a web site with posted sermons, “visit” one that does. In fact, you might want to use this time as an opportunity to “visit” other churches and hear other preachers.
9. Take a few minutes and share your thoughts. Before you jump up and head to the kitchen, it would be a good time for family discussion. Reflection. And sharing what you learned or felt from the service.
10. Resist the urge to critique the service. Some congregations may be equipped to live stream or video and do this really well. Others maybe not so much. Some preachers may be more comfortable with this method of presentation than others. Be kind. Be charitable. And don’t ruin your worship with unnecessary criticisms.
The bottom line is, be a participant in worship. Not a mere spectator. Remember, while you may be alone with your family. You’re not alone. God is there. Jesus is present. And you are worshiping with hundreds, if not thousands of other brethren scattered throughout the country, and even the world.
I miss assembling with my brethren for worship. Hopefully, this will soon end. But in the meantime the words of the angel to the apostle John are always appropriate: “Worship God.”
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman