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How to Get the Most Out of a Virtual Church Service

Worshipping at home and online can take some getting used to. Here are 10 tips to improve your experience.

Attending virtual church
Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto
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In a year filled with so much change and adjustment, many of us have faced the challenge of finding—perhaps enduring—a new way of going to church. Online and onscreen church services have been around for a while, but they’ve become more widespread in recent months in response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Some people find it refreshing to be able to “attend church” in pajamas. Others struggle to adjust to the new and different aspects of online worship. It’s different, for sure. But it can still be good if we try some simple adjustments. Here are 10 that may help you benefit from this new format of worship:

1)  Be Early
Sure, you don’t have to arrive early to choose your pew…but it’s still a good idea to plan ahead, pour your coffee, take a seat and be ready a few minutes before the service begins. 

2)  Bring Your Bible
Many people stopped bringing their Bibles to church when projecting Scripture on screens and looking at smart phones made it easier (and more lightweight) to look up passages. But when worshipping from home, your Bible is close at hand, right? So why not have it ready to follow along rather than relying on an electronic device?

3)  Shut Down Distractions
Before worship begins, silence your phone. Prepare your heart. Ask God to help you shut out external and internal distractions and truly be present.

4)  Sing and Pray Along
Some states and regions have prescribed mask-wearing and proscribed singing in worship, but in your virtual church, you can sing as much—and as loudly—as you like. It may feel strange at first, singing along with someone who’s onscreen, but you do it during movie musicals and award shows, don’t you?

And when someone prays, go ahead and bow your head in prayer as well. Singing and praying is such an integral part of Christian worship. Once you adjust to the online experience, you may enjoy greater freedom and reward than ever before; you don’t have to think about others around you (except for your own family, of course).

5)  Stand, Sit, Kneel
Go ahead and stand, sit or kneel as you would do normally in public worship. You may not have a kneeler, as some churches do, but changing posture is a biblical, time-honored, physical component to worship.

6)  Take Notes
Nearly everyone grasps and remembers things better when they not only hear them, but also write them down. So, during the sermon, note the things you most want to remember—Bible verses, statistics, quotes, etc. Saving these notes can preserve and reproduce the benefit of a sermon long after the fact.

7)  Talk Back
In some churches, the congregation participates in the sermon with an “amen” and “that’s right.” Even if your church isn’t one of those, in at-home worship you can increase the impact of the music and sermon on your heart and life by saying “yes,” “amen,” or even “preach!” to sentiments and ideas that reach your heart.

8)  Pause and Rewind
One advantage of online worship (in some formats) is that you can pause or rewind, allowing you to more carefully reflect on meaningful and memorable moments.

9)  Reach Out
Some platforms for virtual worship offer the option of commenting (and reading comments) as worship is going on. Others provide a “lobby” experience where people can gather afterward and visit. Since fellowship and community moments are among the hardest to imitate or duplicate online, take the opportunity to participate if such options are offered.

10)  Follow Up
Use the notes you took or the conversations you had during worship to suggest topics for your household’s dinner conversation or Bible reading later that day or week. You may learn even more and build on the worship experience itself. Add the worship music to your personal playlist to enjoy throughout the week. And look for ways to incorporate the speaker’s main points into your daily life in some practical way.

These 10 suggestions for enhancing your virtual church experience are just a start. What are some ways you are getting the most out of your online worship?

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