So I haven't written a blog post since March. Honestly, I have not had the creative juice to think about writing a blog post. COVID happened, and all my creative energy went to creating worship for my congregation and staying sane. But as the pandemic wears on and online worship continues, I think I am adjusting.
The first thing you should know is that I am enjoying creating worship in a new way. Do I miss seeing people in the sanctuary? Yes! Am I thrilled that there are now people joining worship and theological study from all over the country? Yes!
When COVID started, I immediately knew that I would like to prerecord services. I know some folks prefer livestreaming. Others are doing a hybrid of livestreaming and prerecorded; some are intentionally keeping a low production value as they think that adds authenticity. I think whatever works for your community is what is best and authentic.
But I knew providing the best worship service that I could was important to me and that means prerecorded. Here is why: I learned a very important lesson from my maternal grandparents and great aunt about what it means to be a Christian and worship. They did not often go to church in person, but they watched church on television A LOT. I may disagree with the theology expressed by those television evangelists, but they reached people. And the people they reached felt a connection to the show, the preachers and worship leaders, and God.
This was particularly true for my grandmother, who regularly supported many of the programs' financial ministries. She would also call into prayer lines and send letters. She felt like she knew the preachers, and she knew her Bible. She tuned in religiously. As I said, I might disagree with the theology, but I will not diminish their impact on my grandparents’ and my great aunt's faith.
So the thought of prerecording a worship service did not scare me, nor did I worry about losing a personal connection. I have enjoyed being forced to think of new ways to worship, new ways to share Bible stories, new ways to engage people.
After too many years of being worried about the future of the Church (that’s big “C” Church, not just the congregation I serve), I am excited. I am excited to see people connect in new ways. I am excited to think of new ways to talk about church membership. I am excited to think about new ways to support mission and ministry. I am excited about bringing the message of grace and hope alive for people in new ways.
Things will not go back to normal, and that is okay with me; normal really wasn't working as mainline denominations have been in decline for years. So, friends, I am not waiting for things to get back to normal to be the church again! I am not waiting for things to get back to normal to make plans for new ways to worship. I am going to plan and live and worship in the here and now in the best (and safest) way I can! We are at a pivotal point in the church's history, and those congregations and pastors that embrace thinking of a new way to be church are going to be the congregations that speak to a new generation.
I attended seminary at Louisville (KY) Presbyterian Theological Seminary and have served churches in Indiana, Illinois and Missouri. I have also worked for the national offices of the denomination in Louisville.