Why the Church Should Maintain Online Services

I’m a big fan of mainstream media. Because those outlets require accountability. The fragment of opinion is another matter. Everyone has the right to accept their opinions, but when they appear in mainstream publications, they can sometimes really stir things up.

The slow quake, where the church’s terrain has been unstable for nearly two years, has raised the notch of the quake in a recently published opinion piece in The New York Times under the headline “Why the Church Should Stop Online Services.” I did. The author, a pastor of the Anglican Church, argues that worship must be embodied and cannot be embodied in the absence of actual bodies.

Of course, anyone who is rational may say it. But we pastors and church leaders are tackling an unusual situation here. It started from weeks to months, then months to years, and now we know who and how long. In the days of these roller coasters, we had to rethink almost all the assumptions about the worship we were raised in: how worship connects us and strengthens our faith. mosquito. The meaning of experiencing the proclaimed Word of God. How to receive the sacrament. How or whether we sing. How do you pray? How to interact with others. How we survive as the body of Christ when the body-defining markers are stripped – face-to-face worship, face-to-face singing, communion from the altar, handshakes and hugs, bring-in and coffee hours.

In times of calamity, the people of faith try to ask: what is God calling from us now, here, and now, using all means we have at our disposal? Are we going backwards, closing our half-hearted or powerful online operations, or is the Holy Spirit really guiding us? Spirit’s job is always to rock things and pave the way for a new life. “All your heart is open to you …” We sing in the words of the collect of the 11th century. How can closing the door in the face of our online community be interpreted as a sign of openness?

Since March 2020, I have been enthusiastic about the idea of ​​online worship with an ever-expanding eye towards new possibilities for how to experience Christ in the community. There are people who regularly participate in various online services, including morning and evening prayers in addition to Sunday mornings. It’s always nice to see them pop out, and the feeling of being connected is obvious. “Hello, I’m here!” Says one. “Thank you!” Another person says. “Welcome to everyone watching online,” I say now. “It’s good to be together.”

We gathered in a medium that we had never imagined even two years ago. In the early days of the pandemic, it was not possible to support so-called communion, but now it encourages online viewers to collect elements at home and share them during the communion liturgy. doing. We are essentially confirming that dedication is effective even through cyberspace. If it is a mystery beyond human understanding in the first place, why not?

This is our current landscape. On weekdays, people craving for a deeper connection to the small but potentially growing Word of God through the windows of their offices overlooking open parking lots and the virtual windows of mid-week online services. Leave them hanging as prey to prosperous gospel merchants, saying, “People will somehow find God if they really want,” or in a Lutheran liturgical worship firmly rooted in the Bible. We can provide them with a steady invitation to participate. Through the great hymns of ancient and modern faith, Christian pop and open-mindedness can be blunted. Our online presentations may not provide surround sound, but you can listen to music, follow along with the text, or completely unmask and sing your heart at home.

No one imagines that virtual worship will be a permanent alternative to face-to-face gatherings once the pandemic anxiety has subsided. It’s always better to be with your body. However, here at the Gray Lutheran Church, we will continue to develop online connections as long as we recognize that they meet our needs. After all, did Jesus himself say in Matthew 18:20 that he really exists? “I’m among them because of the two or three gatherings in my name.”

Thank God for giving us and with us the unparalleled gift of the Son of God.

Pastor Nancy M. Raabe is a pastor of the Grace Lutheran Church at 40 North Main Street in Hatfield. gracelutheranhatfield.org

Why the Church Should Maintain Online Services

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