Let’s Talk Religion: Worship’s ‘new normal’

Let’s Talk Religion: Worship’s ‘new normal’
September 13
09:00 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic has lasted a lot longer than most of us thought. It continues to affect all aspects of our lives, especially our social interactions. One of the most important places people convene is the church. With most gatherings happening virtually now, I think this will be our reality for the foreseeable future.

For many Americans, the weekly outing to church is a family affair. With social distancing guidelines in place, many churches have chosen to close their doors for services and hold everything virtually, which I’m sure is a big adjustment for most.

When the pandemic hit and gatherings were canceled, I was curious how churches were going to change. I found the churches with a younger congregation quickly found a way to continue having some form of worship service, while it took a few weeks for many of the churches with an older demographic to find their way.

I spoke with one young man who stated his congregation quickly went with online services at the start of the pandemic. Since most of the congregation was familiar with modern technology, they were able to set up a virtual service for the church almost overnight. On the flipside, the older demographic is not as familiar with today’s technology.  

For the elder church goers, I know there was a big learning curve. Not only are they not familiar with the applications such as Zoom or Skype, but many don’t even have devices capable of utilizing these apps.  

Besides going virtual, other options for the church were to have service outside and having services in the car. Now that things are starting to open back up and services are resuming, churches are doing a balancing act between in-person and virtual.

Things are not going back to how they used to be any time soon and to be honest, I am not sure if they ever will. Even with buildings opening back up, many people are not comfortable being in a public place with so many other people. With no cure or vaccine on the horizon as of yet, I think people are using the better safe than sorry method of living.

I visited several churches throughout the pandemic and many of them have marked seating where people are allowed to sit to make sure they are maintaining six feet of distance between everyone. These churches are also requiring face coverings and providing hand sanitizers as well.  

I think by this point most of us have adjusted to the status quo of social distancing, but I think I can speak for us all and say we are ready for things to get back to normal. The problem is, I don’t think we will get there anytime soon.  

Churches have found creative ways to get their message out via television, social media or video conferencing, but there is something about being in the house of the Lord every now and again. I don’t know about anyone else, but sometimes I just need to be inside the walls of the church.  

Sometimes I just need to be there to hear singing, congregating with others, or just hear a message in person that I probably needed to hear. Sometimes I need to pray in the midst of others, maybe because I am going through something, or I need a pick-me-up.

I am not sure why, but when I think about virtual services, I sometimes think about something my grandmother routinely said. “For where two or more are gathered together in my name, there am I with them.”  As a kid I never knew where that scripture came from, but later learned that it was from Matthew 18:20.

I think about that often when I have not been to church in a while. As the religion reporter, the pandemic has truly halted most of my visits to churches in the area and I can’t wait to get over this. I can’t speak for other Christians, but I need in-person services every now and then. If we don’t have them, I guess I will have to adjust just like everyone else.

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Timothy Ramsey

Timothy Ramsey

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