For the first time since COVID began, Pam and I returned to a Sunday morning worship service yesterday. We were out of town, and we decided to visit a church with friends who live in that area. Here are my thoughts:
- It’s just great being with God’s people again. It really is. I had forgotten what it’s like to worship with brothers and sisters around you. In fact, I’d probably taken it for granted prior to COVID.
- At least from this example, churches are taking precautions seriously. Pam and I are old enough and careful enough about COVID that we asked questions before we decided to attend the service in person. This church requests folks to wear masks, had hand sanitizer throughout the building, monitored social distancing in the worship center, and moved to two worship services to provide needed space. And, the pastor encouraged us to continue to follow the guidelines to protect ourselves and others. I was grateful.
- I did catch myself thinking about the spread of COVID while gathering together. Nothing the church did created this anxiety; it was just my anxiousness after dealing with some health issues over the last year and then not being with larger groups over the last several months. For many of us, gaining comfort with gathering again may take some time.
- It’s definitely harder to connect with people when you’re practicing social distancing. That’s just reality. It’s tough to greet others, learn others’ names, or spend much time together when you’re wearing a mask, standing feet apart, and quickly and carefully entering and leaving a building. Connecting can happen, but it takes more intentionality.
- Singing together matters more than I might have thought. I’m not a musician. As a church consultant, though, I have a tendency to evaluate worship services even as I’m part of them. The singing portion of the service yesterday was quite good, and I loved not only hearing others sing but also watching others worship.
- It’s not my preference to sing with a mask on, but it does work. I kept my mask on the entire service, and doing so didn’t hinder my worship experience. It got hot, but I’ve worshipped in places around the world where sweat poured down my face the entire time—so a little inconvenience to worship with God’s people is okay.
- We need reminders to give. Many of us have moved to giving online now. I like this trend, but I honestly didn’t think about the offering yesterday until the pastor mentioned other options for giving without passing the offering plate. Most of us probably need regular reminders to give.
- Small groups—even ones that connect only digitally still—are even more important these days. When it’s tougher to connect on Sunday morning because of spatial distancing, multiple services, and still-sporadic attendance, connection must happen some place else. So, I encourage pastors to be sure to tell attendees each week how they might connect with a small group if they wish to do so in these crazy days.
Just my thoughts . . . . What might you add?