Worshipping with the Digital Church

Elijah Dahl | Worship & Tech Associate

Church online. We’ve had live streaming for years, and it seems like every church has some sort of “live stream”. But this? To have church strictly online for weeks after weeks, we didn’t sign up for this! 

Scripture says time and time again that we shouldn’t worry about tomorrow (Matthew 6:34), that we need to cast our fears to the Lord (Phil. 4:6-7), and that we should press on towards the prize (Phil. 3:14). Pressing on towards the goal seems difficult at times, especially when we don’t know how long we might be in a current situation. 

If I truly trust that the Lord is good and faithful, then the trio of verses listed above should be continuous; I get worried about today, or tomorrow, or even future things, so I pray and give them to the Lord (sometimes it’s easy, most of the time it’s very difficult) and then I press on in my faith, trying to learn more about God and grow in a relationship with Him.

So, what’s this have to do with worship?

In these strange times that we are in as a community, country, and world, we need to continue to press on towards the goal, and press in to the Lord. An area that I miss dearly is worshiping with a live Church body. I miss being in person with other believers and worshiping our Creator together. While watching church strictly online, I have had to learn to shift my mentality in order to still engage in worship. Here are a few practical things that have helped me, and I hope they are helpful to you as well!

  1. Language matters. I’d encourage everyone to continue to use the language of “going to church”. For me, this means communicating with a few buddies, “Hey, you guys still on for going to church together?” This has helped create normalcy in my weekly routine, as Sundays at 9:30am is still church time. Using the language of “going to church” with your kids and spouse and friends helps everyone mentally begin to prepare themselves for church. It’s a small shift in language, but makes a HUGE difference. 
  2. Pick a time. I’ve always been a big fan of consistency and routine, so I think that being able to set a time each Sunday that you are going to watch the livestream is a very good thing. Disclaimer: I’ll be completely honest. I watched the first week of church in my bed and woke up at 9:28am before heading to the livestream. This was by far my least engaged Sunday.
  3. Get rid of all distractions, if possible. What comes to mind when you hear “distractions”? For me, it’s my cell phone. Whether it be messaging people back, checking emails, or aimlessly scrolling through Facebook, it is my biggest distraction during church. I think the key to engaging fully into online worship is by ridding the room of distractions, if possible. We have recently switched over to streaming on Facebook live (CHECK IT OUT ON SUNDAYS AT 9:30) which has allowed us to chat and comment with each other during the service. This has been a great tool and allowed people to connect and feel welcomed, so if you are going to use your phone, then use it for that! My point is this: rid yourself of unnecessary distractions so that you can engage.
  4. Final point: ENGAGE! Turn the TV up and sing along with the songs (or really meditate on the words we are singing), bow your head and pray during the prayers, open your Bibles and take notes, or laugh at Andy or Eli’s not-very-funny jokes. The first time I sang in the room with a few other guys was a bit strange, but it’s not strange if everyone is doing it, right?

Have I been perfect at these four things I listed above? No way. But I have found that when I keep the language of “going to church”, pick a time, get rid of distractions, and fully engage like I would in person, I get the most of each service. There have been some other things I have tried, as I am sure there are many things you have tried as well, so continue to try things out and share what has worked! As the Body of Christ, we are in this together. Let’s continue to be the Church; devoting ourselves to the Bible, breaking bread, praying, sharing with one another, and continue to praise the Lord! (Acts 2) O, how sweet it will be to worship together again!

These are strange times. They are not ideal times. But they are all within God’s timing.  I know that my goal is an eternal life with Christ someday and I need to continue to press on towards it even though it might look different at times. I’m reminded of the lyrics from the song It Is Well when it says, “Whatever my lot, Thou has taught me to say, it is well with my soul.”

My Prayer: Father God, may we fix our eyes on you and you alone. May we give our circumstances to You and continue to worship You with all that we are. Amen.