Read the Collected 'Worship Online' Article Series
By Lisa Hancock
Whether your church entered the world of online worship in response to shelter-in-place orders during the COVID-19 pandemic or years beforehand, the prevalence of online and hybrid worship has exploded since the spring of 2020. In fewer than three years, online and hybrid worship have been incorporated into the life of many churches, large and small. Now, removed from the immediate crisis and steep learning curve that marked entry into online worship for many churches, we are entering a critical time to stop and reflect on theological, liturgical, and practical aspects of online and hybrid worship. Our Worship Online series is written to help you contemplate how to enter into the next stage of online and hybrid worship from a position of excellence and intentional curation of worship.
In the first article, “Worship Online: Is Online Space Sacred?,” we use the tabernacle (Exodus 25-40) and John’s Prologue (John 1) to explore how God brings the sacred to neighbor with the ordinary. In the tabernacle and in the Incarnation, we find that God often transforms the ordinary and mundane into the sacred and brings the sacred to live among the ordinary, offering us an example of why and how ordinary online space can become a space for sacred encounter with God and one another. In the second article, “Worship Online: Digital and Embodied,” we draw on John’s Prologue again to counteract the false assumption that online participation is inherently disembodied and anonymous. Letting go of this assumption, we can begin to imagine how online and hybrid interactions in worship draw in embodied and personal participation no matter the physical location of those who are gathered. The final article, “Worship Online: Putting Up Walls that Make Disciples,” turns to the practical concern of how to set apart space for worship online. Just as Moses began erecting the tabernacle by setting up the walls, so we must begin to make sacred space online by setting up boundaries or community guidelines that reflect our purpose and mission as individual local churches and as part of a connection called to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.
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Dr. Lisa Hancock, Director of Worship Arts Ministries, served as an organist and music minister in United Methodist congregations in the Northwest Texas and North Texas Annual Conferences, as well as the New Day Amani/Upendo house churches in Dallas. After receiving her Master of Sacred Music and Master of Theological Studies from Perkins School of Theology, Lisa earned her PhD in Religious Studies from Southern Methodist University wherein she researched and wrote on the doctrine of Christ, disability, and atonement.