MAKING ONLINE WORSHIP MEANINGFUL

by Pastor Michael Cloer

Worship is not a spectator sport. So, how can we do it while watching it on a screen?
 
The most fundamental shift to make is moving from watching to participating—from passively observing a produced service to fully engaging as an active worshipper. Let me offer five practical suggestions for worshipping during a live-streamed service:
 

ANTICIPATION

Sunday worship is a Saturday decision. Schedule the time that you and your family plan to worship and let nothing rob you of that time. Talk to your family the night before about how exciting it will be to worship together. For those who live alone, share your joyful anticipation with a friend or neighbor, inviting them to join you from their home at the same time.
 

PREPARATION

(1) Prepare the space where you and your household will gather for worship. Make sure everyone has a seat and has clear sight-lines.
(2) Prepare the technology in advance. Make sure that you have reached the web page at least 15 minutes ahead of the hour of broadcast and that it is functioning well. That way, you won’t miss the first moments of the service while you are trouble-shooting any technical difficulties that could arise, especially with the slowdown in Internet capabilities many people are experiencing. Ensure the audio level is set.
(3) Prepare your heart for worship. Before the time to begin, offer a prayer out loud for whomever is present (even if it is just you), invoking God’s presence. Give this special time to God. Pray for your pastor and all worship leaders. Pray for receptive hearts.
“Lord, open my eyes, that I may behold wonderful things from Your law.” – Psalms 119:18
 

CONCENTRATION

Give your undivided attention to the online service—just as you would want to do if you were present onsite. 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 all there. Staying focused during a 30-minute live sermon is difficult, but being attentive while you watch online is 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!
 

PARTICIPATION

Don’t just watch other people sing, sing! Don’t just watch other people pray, pray! If you have already given online, or written and mailed a check, use the prayer time after the missions video to intentionally present your offering to the Lord and ask Him to use it to reached the UUPG.
 

REFLECTION

After the worship is over, take a few minutes to discuss the experience. What did God reveal to you and to each household member through the worship? What are some adjustments can you make for the next online worship experience to make it more meaningful? Mention what happened in worship at various points throughout the rest of the day or the upcoming week. Reflecting on what held meaning or was remarkable is a way to remind ourselves that our weekly worship opportunity at home has real significance.
 
Worshipping remotely can easily become passive, but biblical worship is never passive. So, let’s do what we can to fully engage and worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness.