On Sunday I had the opportunity to preach via Zoom at Glendale Presbyterian Church. This is only the third time I’ve preached since the pandemic. Each church has been very different in its technology, liturgy, and location. Twice I’ve preached from home, and once inside of a church. Twice has been by Zoom and once by Facebook live. On Sunday I tried something I’ve never done before. It’s an idea I stole from Liz Kanerva. About two-thirds into my sermon, I had the congregation break into small groups. I had several pre-planned questions for them to discuss. I allowed 10 minutes for the discussions. Afterward, they all returned to hear the conclusion of the sermon.
As a teacher at heart, this style of preaching made me feel like a teaching elder! The time for small group discussions was a moment I could stop, enter a small group, and listen to what is on the minds of the parishioners. I could hear them process the sermon and discover their thoughts and ideas. It was a moment of true liturgy–the work of the people–as they engaged one another and led each other in conversation.
COVID time has not been pleasant, but it has offered us an opportunity for creativity. It is a chance to make our two-dimensional worship into a three-dimensional experience. I’ve seen churches use the Call to Worship as a time for people to greet one another with a wave. I’ve seen people sharing their heartfelt prayers and praying for one another in the chat forum during the time for Prayers of the People. Children’s sermons can be videos, images, and recorded nature walks with conversations. At Glendale we ended worship by turning off the recording of the worship service and sitting and sharing informally our joys and concerns.
What are some creative things your church is doing during this time? What are some ways you have turned this time of cloister into a time of creative growth? Please share your ideas in the response section of the blog, so we can all learn together through the cross-pollination of ideas.
Rev. Craig M. Howard