Pastor Scott McKee answers some Frequently Asked Question about worship.
We have been back in the building two months. How is it going?
In person worship attendance remains small, between 200 and 250 people at each hour. This represents about 25% of pre-COVID attendance. However, online attendance holds steady at about 1200 (that’s 1200 devices. The number of people online is not known.)
Those who do gather in person are engaged and grateful. It is good to hear people sing and pray and react. In spite of wearing masks and sitting six feet apart, there is a shared sense of connection. I hope the feeling of togetherness translates to those worshipping online.
Is the in-person service the same service I see online?
Yes. We are now broadcasting the 9:30 and 11:00 service live. What you see online is what is happening in real time in the Sanctuary. A recording of the service is “rebroadcast” at 2, 4, and 6 p.m. No matter whether you attend in person or online you will experience the same worship service.
What has been the greatest challenge in returning worship to the building?
In addition to navigating safety procedures, we have faced a severe shortage of volunteers. The majority of choir members, guest service volunteers, and children’s teachers have indicated that they are not ready to return yet to in-person gatherings. New volunteers are being recruited to stand in the gap.
Before COVID-19, we had two distinct worship “venues” – classic and modern. Now the entire congregation worships together in the Sanctuary. How is the worship service designed?
Since the entire congregation is worshipping together, the current worship service is neither all-classic nor all-modern. Our worship planners follow the instruction of the EPC Book of Worship: “Care should be exercised in selecting hymns that both new and old are selected in order that all may rejoice in the Lord…”,
Our worship leaders aim to plan a service that reflects the rich history of the church and the nowness of today. Music includes a variety of styles and instrumentation. Ancient creeds, video stories, liturgy, and a relevant biblical sermon form an eclectic mix designed to connect our diverse congregation and their invited guests to the living God.
In this current season, logistics play a larger-than-usual role in planning worship. Physical distance protocol and volunteer availability affect the shape of worship gatherings.
What if I don’t like some of the music?
A typical Sunday service includes about four songs. I’d be surprised if each of these four songs impacted you equally. Remember, a song that didn’t connect with you, did connect with somebody else in your church family. Use that moment to pray for the people around you. Give thanks for the diverse body of Christ. Remember Paul’s instruction to “value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but to the interests of others” (Philippians 2:3-4). Reflect on the lyrics to the song, and give praise to God.
Why do we sometimes recite creeds? Isn’t the Bible enough?
The word creed comes from the Latin credo, which means “I believe.” Statements such as “I believe Jesus is Lord” or “I believe in the resurrection of Christ” are creeds, whether or not they are written down. We are a creedal people. God’s people have always attempted to express in language what we believe. Creeds preserve our history. Reciting a creed as a church reminds those gathered of our common faith and can be a source of unity.
Is it legit to worship online?
Absolutely! Worshipping together with your church family is very important, but we are in an odd season where we have had to redefine what it means to be together. I encourage you to use wise judgement regarding your physical risks and to not be guided by guilt. Whether you are online or in-person you are part of the worshipping community of faith. Remember, though, that worship is not a show, but an honoring of God in our hearts and actions. The only “illegitimate” worship is to withhold from God the praise our Lord so rightly deserves.