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. Here are seven practical suggestions for worshipping during a live-streamed service (or even if you watch the re-run video!).
1. Build anticipation. Talk to your family the night before about how exciting it will be to worship together “live.” For those who live alone, share your joyful anticipation with a friend or neighbour, inviting them to join you from their home at the same time.
2. Prepare the technology in advance. Make sure that you have reached the Zoom page at least 15 minutes before the start of the service (or longer if it’s your first time) and that it is functioning well. That way, we can help you with any technical difficulties.
3. Create a worshipful setting. Gather what items you have around the house to create a centrepiece for worship. Just like on Palm Sunday, we had palm crosses. Maybe an open Bible in front of the candle, or your Communion elements carefully placed before you.
4. Get settled. Make sure that the lighting in the room is conducive to avoid screen glare. Position everyone to be able to see the screen. Test the audio. Provide ample and comfortable seating for everyone. Visit the bathroom, or grab that cup of coffee or tea before the service begins.
5. Pray. Before the time of service, offer a prayer out loud for whomever is present (even if it’s just you), invoking God’s presence. Give this special time to God. Pray for the people leading the service as they are doing things that are still new to them—like leading corporate worship without the gathered corporate body physically present with them. Here’s a prayer you can use:
Triune God, be present with us as we turn our hearts to worship you. We thank you that you are present everywhere at once, and so we ask for the blessing of the Holy Spirit to pour out upon those who lead us in worship and upon every worshiping community gathered anywhere throughout your beautiful world. May Jesus Christ, our Risen Lord, meet us powerfully to the glory of God the Father. Amen.
6. Enthusiastically participate throughout the entire service! Don’t just watch other people sing, sing! Don’t just watch other people pray, pray! If you are invited to engage in certain postures such as kneeling, waving, standing, stretching out your hands to receive the benediction, do it! Do everything you would do if you were present together at your church—aloud! You will probably feel awkward. You might even think, what’s the point? No one can hear me. Ah, but many can hear you. In fact, every Sunday when our churches are full of people, there are a host of others who are hearing us; we have just become unaware. Every time we worship the Lord Jesus Christ as the gathered community on earth, we unite with the saints in glory, the church triumphant, as they do the same. So, go ahead—sing, pray, and gesture in abandon, for you are not alone after all!
7. Reflect on the experience. 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 (other than the glitches in live streaming that happen to all of us!) is a way to remind ourselves that our weekly worship service 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. Think of it as rehearsing for that first Sunday when we are finally back in our houses of worship together again. How much more enthusiastic our worship will surely be for having made the shift from watching to participating until then.