I find myself saying a lot these days, “If I was still a pastor.” So, for what it’s worth and if it helps some of our pastors think through some issues, here are several things I would do with live streaming or producing a recorded version of a worship service during this COVID-19 crisis.
- I would be a minimalist. Pastor, this is not the time to be fancy. Your congregation needs a word from God far more than a need professional broadcast. In addition, having a minimum number of people involved also helps slow the spread which is way more important right now than the quality of your production.
- I would seek to make the remote worship gathering as normal as possible. The order of service would look the same. I would welcome guests inviting them to send a text or email to tell us that they were watching. I would have a pastoral prayer. Congregations need to be comforted by hearing their pastor pray for them. I would sing. Well, I would have someone else lead in musical worship. I would receive an offering at the usual spot in our worship. I would use that moment in worship to ask people right then to electronically send in their offering or prepare their gift for mailing. This seems much more worshipful and Biblical than the appeal that the bills won’t be paid if the people don’t give. I would preach. And, I would extend a Gospel invitation and extend an opportunity for people to email, text, phone, or mail their commitment. I would conclude with a benediction—a good word. The point is that we are far from anything that is normal right now, but I would try to be as normal as possible in leading people to worship.
- In my sermon I would ask people to do something. In my last few years of preaching, I have fallen into a practice of concluding my sermons with the question, “So what?” The idea is to make sure that we were moving from the information to transformation, from the theological to the practical. I would certainly not deviate from that practice during this crisis. Now, more than ever, folks need something to do. I would make sure that the message calls them to do something.
Pastor, I am praying for you as you prepare to preach each Sunday and as you redesign ministry for the weeks and months ahead.