This one come to us from Rooted staff and steering committee member Chelsea Kingston Erickson, who serves as Pastor of Youth Families in Hamilton, Massachusetts. Erickson developed this for her church families who are practicing virtual worship together during the COVID-19 pandemic, just as many of you are. In it she lays some important foundations for how to talk with your kids about online church: how we are doing it now, and why this is a temporary solution, not a permanent change.
During this time while we are not gathering physically as a church, we urge our church family to participate in the virtual service we are providing online. We encourage parents to make use of this opportunity to increase family devotions at home. Consider using Colossians 3:16 as a template: “Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts.”
Psalms: The psalms give us words when we don’t know what to pray. During this crisis, we may feel anxious, afraid, or even sad about missing out on daily activities. Consider praying Psalm 23, 27, 34, 46, 91, 121, or 139 together. See also Philippians 4:4-6.
Hymns: Paul tells God’s people they should sing together! If you have a family hymnal, make it a game to find hymns with encouraging words. Or you can pull up hymns on YouTube. “Tis So Sweet to Trust in Jesus,” “Be Thou My Vision,” and “This is My Father’s World” are a good place to start this week.
Spiritual Songs: Just keep singing, just keep singing… In addition to the hymns and songs on our live stream worship service, search YouTube for favorite praise songs. Some favorites include “Come Behold the Wondrous Mystery,” “Yet Not I But Through Christ in Me,” and “In Christ Alone.”
And Give Thanks! Take turns sharing things for which you’re thankful. Then pause to pray, giving thanks to God for each one.
Why Can’t We Go to Church Online Every Week? In an age of “always-on-everywhere,” holding live stream church during a pandemic is a double-edged sword. On the one hand, we recognize our privilege at being able to access a worship service online, staying connected to our church family from the safety of our homes. On the other hand, we should take care not to think that virtual church is as good as gathering in person. Teenagers and younger children especially may want to know why we can’t just watch church on a screen in our PJs every week.
If your kids ask this question, a good place to start is providing a theology of the body. From the beginning, the Christian Story dignifies the human body as an essential component of personhood. God has made human beings in His image (Gen. 1:26-27), and He gave them bodies. He then sent Jesus in a human body to rescue the people who had rebelled against him. And He promises that like Jesus, we will be resurrected in physical bodies. Our physical beings matter too much to simply have church on a screen indefinitely.
When we gather together as the Body of Christ, our physical presence with one another is a tangible reminder of God’s plans for His people. One day our bodies will be made perfect as we worship together forever.
Jay Kim said it this way in a TGC blog post: “As we temporarily direct our congregations to these online spaces, it is of utmost importance that we clarify this digital reality as a temporary compromise rather than an ongoing convenience.”
For a downloadable PDF to share with your churches, click Household-Worship.