People often ask me, “When is the church going to open?” My response is, “The church is open, anyone can come on any Sunday.” Which is true. But usually what they want to know is, “When is the church going to be fully back to in-person worship?” I share the longing to be all together again, singing, hugging, eating donuts and not worrying about catching something. At this point I can only say two things for certain: One is I don’t know when it will be safe for everyone to come back in person. Each one of us has to make our own best decisions for our health and that of those in our “bubbles.” And Secondly, because it is an individual decision, it will be more like a rheostat than a on/off switch. Rather than someone giving the “all clear,” returning to more in person worship will be a gradual, slow return to full participation.
Or will it? I think that we have discovered something that we never want to let go of in livestream worship. I hear parents of small children, shut-ins, people who travel for their jobs and others who just like to worship in their PJ’s, say, “I don’t know if I will ever come back as often even when this is over.” I get that, and I am good with that. Some really don’t like Zoom much, which I also understand. But for some it is not just worship on Zoom, but it really is Worship through Zoom.
One of the things we are learning is how to be a hybrid church, where people can worship both in person and online. If we are a to be a hybrid church how can we build community through or in addition to livestream worship? I hope people who have ideas for what is next will share them on Facebook or email me firstname.lastname@example.org