It was the twelfth week of Zoom worship services at First Mennonite Church in Lincoln, Nebraska. The pandemic had put a stop to all in-person church activities, and the congregation was getting restless. Zoom had its many benefits: We could safely “see” each other and share in real time. We could sing (while muted) with the musicians, make announcements, and listen to the sermon. We also introduced a new element of the service called “spotlighting.”
As one of our musicians played, each participant’s screen would be showcased for a few seconds. The spotlighted people would wave and smile, and we would all enjoy seeing everyone in the congregation, however briefly.
But the personal interaction was missing—talking to each other one-on-one, shaking hands, hugging. We felt the lack.
On this Sunday, the day of Pentecost, the service was about the Holy Spirit. During children’s time, the story-giver talked about how the Holy Spirit is present but cannot be seen, heard, felt, or even tasted or smelled like other things that come to us through our senses. In fact, the Holy Spirit seemed somewhat similar to us meeting via Zoom, where we can see and hear each other only virtually, and touch is absent.
It led to this question: How could we make our worship times more personal?
Written by Anita Breckbill.