This question is posed to us – a church community in the middle of the coronovirus lockdown.
What might we hold onto from the experience of the last 9 weeks or so ?
I think that is such a big question. For me the bigger question that it leads to is
How can we learn from both the inherited church, and the emerging ‘new ways of being church’ to enable us to be a church fit for a post Christendom world ?
But for now, I’ll focus on what have I learned from lockdown, especially with regard to worship.
So – for the last two weeks, our ‘zoom church’ has been like this:
Short ‘hellos’ and a prayer
* Brief reading of and introduction to one of the Bible passages for the day. (Usually, but not always the Gospel).
This has been done in a way that is accessible to all ages from pre-schoolers up. E.G Godly Play.
* Some open questions to think about what might emerge from the introduction.
* Break out groups of 4/5 people. This for me has been great, because I have ‘met’ people who I have known a little bit before, but got to know them much better through these small zoom groups.
* Come back together for some prayers.
* Close and further chat over coffee etc.
I would like to hold on to this much simpler approach to worship. I like the way it has given us something to reflect on, rather than a sermon with a possibly complicated train of thought.
It’s very ‘word light’ in the sense that we don’t have a lot of the quite wordy prayers and responses typical of Anglican worship. This is good for inclusivity. Some prayers that we all can learn off by heart would be good to give structure and stability. (But not too many, or prayers that are too long)
I like the way that it invites everyone to contribute. This makes it more empowering and engaging.
Maybe there are some principles to draw that can be adapted back in a church setting. In fact this is something we were beginning to experiment with before lockdown, with the time to break up in the middle of the service to respond to the opening introduction in a variety of ways.
The drawback is that it’s harder to be a bystander, which can be quite threatening/challenging, so there should always be the option of using this time for personal reflection.