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Recreating Worship after "Shelter-at-home"

Coming up next week:
- Evangelism after Coronavirus

April showers bring May flowers.


Those of us who live in the Mountain West know that this saying is a lie. We know that May often brings bright sunny days that tempt us to plant our flowers, only to have a mid-May snow.

May will also bring new changes in the response to COVID-19. Colorado governor Jared Polis announced a new phase in the battle against COVID-19. Coloradans will be moving from “Shelter at Home” to “Safer at Home.”


Some of the restrictions of businesses and faith communities will be relaxed in May. Wyoming has been in under less strict stay at home orders, but they too are anticipating the relaxing of the guidelines in May.

These new guidelines will not allow churches to throw open their doors and shout, “Ya’ll come!” In this “in between time” in which churches can gather for small gatherings, but still not for worship it will be incredibly frustrating for pastors and congregants as they try to figure out worship during this phase.

Brad Berglund (The Threshold, Denver) encourages pastors and worship leaders to seek to engage people in worship experiences that are authentic, relevant, and participatory; whether these worship gatherings are small gatherings, home groups, Facebook Live, or Zoom. 

Authentic: Authentic worship reflects the culture of the congregation; it is indigenous. It is not about doing what is popular or what is “working” for the mega-church or the hot new church start down the street. It is focused on leading people into the presence of God. Authentic worship might include music that is traditional hymns, bluegrass, Taize, or rap. It might be contemporary, cowboy worship or liturgical in style. The message might be presented as an exegetical or narrative sermon; or dramatic or choral readings. The key is that it leads the congregation to engage whole-heartedly in worshiping God.

Relevant: Worship must be relevant to the lives. This does not mean that sermons are reduced to simplistic self-help lectures that could be pulled off YouTube or Ted Talks. Relevant worship speaks to the hunger of the hearts of the people. Relevant worship enables people to encounter a living and loving God. Relevant worship speaks hope and good news into the lives of hungry and thirsty people.

Participatory: This one might be the biggest challenge in the age of virtual church. For a time, people will be hungry just to engage with their pastor and might watch a worship service for a time. The reality is that peoples’ attention span is very short when engaging online content; even excellent content that few churches can produce. During this time, churches must find new ways of enabling people to participate in the worship. Zoom worship allows people to interact well, but it is not conducive for quality music. YouTube and Facebook allow churches to edit and create quality content, but they limit how people interact. Berglund reminds us that the people are not the audience watching a performance, but the actors in the grand drama of worship of the Lord Most High.

Community: Worship also shapes the people of God. Through great worship, people are moved from a people wandering in the wilderness to become the true people of God. Great worship transforms us in ways that lead us to live our the faith we profess through loving our neighbors, caring for others in the congregation, and serving alongside people as the hands and feet of Jesus.

Through worship we are built into the community that has been know for two thousand years as the church.

Mike Oldham
Ministry and Mission Coach


The Professor Trelawny of Worship: 
Recreating Worship after “Shelter at Home”

by Mike Oldham,
Ministry & Missions Coach

Professor Trelawny is the divination teacher at Hogwarts in the Harry Potter series played by Emma Thompson in the movies. She was infamous for being “a fraud” as a prognosticator, with two major exceptions, but she covered it well. Her chief method for covering her shortsightedness was to predict calamity or death, especially for our hero, Harry Potter. In writing this article, I feel a bit like Professor Trelawny. I must confess that my crystal ball is a little cloudy right now. That is why I talked to several of our pastors and leaders in our Region: Mark DeWett, Tim Griesbach, Eugene Downey, Kay Farley, Duncan Miller, and Brad Berglund. I also STOLE ideas and thoughts from Bill Wolfe, John Marshall, Andrew Daugherty, Cleveland Thompson, Anne Scalfaro, and Penny Marsh. So as we look into our crystal ball . . .

For many pastors and churches, the weeks leading up to Easter were a time of great energy, creativity, and focus. Many were on a very steep learning curve moving from traditional worship to fully virtual worship. As Rev. Cleveland Thompson observed, “We already had an online presence, but we really had to upgrade what we were doing in the face of this situation.” Pastors scrambled, but they have done a remarkable job of connecting with their people and keeping the worship alive.

Now that the initial phase is over, what will worship look like in the coming months and years? How will it change? What are the essentials that we will keep? What will we need to leave behind? 

Bill Wolfe (Author, Blogger, Interim pastor, FBC Simla and substitute 8th grade teacher) shared a story in his blog about his 8th grade students. On September 11, 2019, he was describing some of the ways that the world had changed since the 9/11 attacks. The students were amazed that there was a time when you could meet your family at the gate. In his blog, he then pivots to the Coronavirus and he writes, “The coronavirus, likewise, is changing things and will change things. Despite our incredible reluctance to admit it; things will not return to what and how they were. Hopefully, faith communities will grasp that. Churches sometimes have a difficult time accepting that things change.” These changes are the things we are attempting to look into our “crystal balls” to see.   Click to read more ...


Real life discipleship in times of
‘real’ danger and Covid-19 crisis

What is a disciple?

The word disciple literally refers to learner, student, or apprentice. In Jesus’ day disciples would be under a Rabbi, follow the Rabbi wherever he went, and learned from his teachings. The student, disciple, of a Rabbi would mimic the Rabbi. They lived life together. It was impossible for the student to not end up like the Rabbi. In the second half of Luke 6, Jesus talks about common principles in living life as a His follower. But the verse that stuck with me from that pas-sage is when Jesus defines a relationship between teach-er and disciple.


Luke 6:40 states, “The student (disciple) is not above their teacher, but everyone who is fully trained will be like their teacher.” Jesus’ life with his disciple was life-on-life discipleship.

Discipleship in our lives looks different yet similar. One thing I believe to challenge us in this time is what does life-on-life discipleship look like now. In our time, we do not go live with a teacher to be trained, but we do need to be part of one another’s lives. I believe there are three main roles people in the church can provide: 1) a place at the table, 2) a sounding board, and 3) a relationship.

A place at the table simply means a safe culture and a safe place. A safe culture refers to our church community. I would define safe culture as a welcoming and loving place, where one is greeted and included. A safe place is literally around your kitchen table. A place at the table is inviting young believers or young people over to your house to be a part of your family without judgments. A place for them to be themselves and enjoy company.

A sounding board refers to being a safe heart. We cannot expect deep conversations quickly but living life together those conversations will come. As a lover of Jesus, we are to love first. This is what being a safe heart means. Loving others in the place they are in the present. We are not trying to change them but walk with them in the process. Discipleship is seen first and learned second.

A relationship refers to commitment. Being a disciple of Jesus means you are committed to loving others and showing God’s love to them. When we are the teachers, our role is to not choose the road but to help our students be competent travelers for themselves. We are there to equip, em-power, and enlighten. In order to do this, we must be present regularly in our student’s life.

Discipleship is giving a safe culture and a safe place for God’s love to be seen and heard. Discipleship is being a safe heart where love is given and no judgment shown. Discipleship is a relationship. As followers of Jesus Christ, we are to love God and love others. Loving God and accepting His love, allows each of us to be love in our communities. We need to challenge our churches to be present with their neighbors, their children’s friends, co-workers, etc. Life-on-life discipleship at its core is living life together!

Lauren Parliament

Youth and Camping Intern

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