COVID-19: How to Make the Most of Online Worship
There is an old nursery rhyme that may be familiar to you. Accompanied with hand motions, it says, “here is the church, here is the steeple, open the doors, and see all of the people!”
Great nursery rhyme. Bad theology.
The Church is not a building; it’s a movement where the people of God come together to worship Him and build His Kingdom. So, what happens when the Church is unable to gather physically?
As we practice social distancing In the wake of COVID-19, it’s important to remember that social distancing does not mean social isolation. We were created for community, and we have been called to gather corporately (Hebrews 10:24-25). During this pandemic, many churches have moved their services to an online platform where they can sing, pray, give, and study God’s Word digitally. Even though the methods have changed, the goal is the same: worship.
Let’s refresh. Worship is treasuring God, above all things. It is the heart, mind, and body responding to God in a manner that declares His worth. It is both an inward reflection of who God is and what He has done, and an outward expression of praise; it involves the whole person (Romans 12:1-2). Worship is not entertainment. It’s not just a time of music and singing. It’s not about your preferences. In fact, it’s not about you at all! Again, it’s about God and Him magnified.
Today, hope may seem distant in the world around us, but the Lord has armed you with the ability to worship, even while staying home. Here are a few ways you can make the most of an online worship experience:
Often, online services will be viewed from the comfort of your own home. Although wearing pants might be optional, preparing your surroundings and your heart shouldn’t be!
Be intentional to get your coffee and breakfast ready beforehand. You wouldn’t make pancakes in the middle of the worship center during a service, so let’s be serious about getting ready to meet with Jesus by taking care of breakfast beforehand.
Try to eliminate any distractions. Unless you are viewing the service on your phone, be sure to put it out of sight so you can resist the urge to scroll. Choose to live in the present and focus on your worship! It may help to use a physical copy of God’s Word (vintage, right?).
Lastly, it’s essential to prepare your heart before the service even begins. Pray for God to increase His presence in your home, ask for your heart and mind to be focused, and ask that God would reveal biblical truth and conviction like never before.
Come with Expectation
We all have expectations. To make the most of online worship, come expecting to hear from and meet with the Lord. David wrote, “O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water.” (Psalm 63:1) If you seek the Lord with the same longing and intensity as if you were in the desert seeking water, you will find Him (Luke 11:9).
Come ready to receive. The difference between bible intake and bible study is a pen and paper! Imagine God parting the clouds and speaking directly to you. I’m guessing you would do whatever you could to record and remember what He said. God has spoken and speaks directly to us through His written Word, so be ready to take notes. If we don’t intentionally remember, we will unintentionally forget!
Online corporate worship experiences can be strange if you lose sight of the goal: worship. You may be tempted to just sit and watch, but I want to encourage you to sing out, lift your hands, and respond to God in a manner that reflects His worth. Don’t be ashamed, no matter if you are alone or among others. You simply cannot look upon the beauty, majesty, and goodness of the Lord without responding in some way. C.S. Lewis said it best in Reflections on the Psalms when He wrote:
“I think we delight to praise what we enjoy because the praise not merely expresses but completes the enjoyment; it is its appointed consummation. It is not out of compliment that lovers keep on telling one another how beautiful they are; the delight is incomplete until it is expressed.”
Sometimes it’s good to recalibrate your celebration of who God is and what He’s done. Amid the chaos and the change, there is one truth that will stand unmoved and unmatched: God is worthy of your worship. No matter if you are in a corporate gathering or tuning in through a screen, give God the praise that He deserves.