By Scott Shepherd
Tennessee Baptist Mission Board Worship and Music Specialist
Worship is something we do. It’s active. We participate.
Watching movies and tv shows online is different. It’s passive. We just sit and watch. We don’t really do anything.
For online worship to have its greatest impact, we should find ways to participate.
Here are some ideas to help.
Prepare. Take time to prepare the space where you and your household will gather for worship. Set up plenty of chairs. Make sure everyone has clear sightlines. Ensure the audio level is set.
Focus. Give your undivided attention to the online service—just as you try to do in a normal church worship gathering. (Don’t surf Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter. Don’t use the time to make your shopping list. Use the bathroom before the service starts.) Be present.
Read. Bring your Bible, whether you use a print or digital version. When the Scriptures are read, read and follow along, just as you would if you were gathered at church.
Write/Draw. Staying focused during a 30-minute live sermon is difficult. Being attentive while you watch online will be even harder. Find ways to engage physically, even during the sermon. Take notes. Children can even draw pictures about the Scripture passage and the sermon. Be creative!
Sing. When the hymns and worship songs are sung, join in. If your household isn’t used to singing together, this may be a bit awkward at first, but use it as an opportunity to practice something our families ought to be doing anyway.
Pray. Silently echo the prayers offered online by your pastor and leaders. Pray a prayer as a household before the service starts. Pray again after the service ends.
Move. Worship is more engaging when we use the bodies God has given us. Don’t be afraid to engage in the biblical actions of physical worship. Clap, raise your hands, stand up, sit down, bow down…or dance! Whatever it takes to stay engaged! No one will see you anyway.
Play. This is one occasion where anyone can play an instrument. If you (or one of your children) always wanted to play in the worship band, now’s your chance! Join in!
Give. Giving tithes and offerings is an important act of worship…even when we can’t pass the offering plate. If your church has online giving, give prior to, during, or following the worship livestream. If your church isn’t set up for online giving yet, write a check and walk it to the mailbox after the service is over.
Debrief. After the service is over, take a few minutes to discuss the service. What did God reveal to each household member through the service? What are some adjustments can you make for the next online worship experience to make it more meaningful?
Worshiping online will be very different—that’s for sure! By finding ways to participate, the gathering will be a closer approximation to our in-person gatherings.
Let’s worship—not just watch another TV show online. B&R