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When Church Goes Online | SKMB

When Church Goes Online

When Church Goes Online

“Technology is not in itself opposed to spirituality and to religion.  But it presents a great temptation.”

Thomas Merton, theologian (1915 – 1968)

Once upon a time, the word “zoom” meant either a Mazda commercial or the kids’ TV show Zoom (I can still hear the theme song in my head). A few years ago, I became acquainted with Zoom as the software we use to teach online students at Horizon College and Seminary. And, of course, as COVID-19 began, Zoom became a full-fledged part of my daily activities, as work meetings, my small group, and times with my family were hosted by Zoom. It goes to show how a word can change its connotation from one season of life to the next.

As a pastor’s kid, a pastoral intern, and now a pastor’s wife, the physicality of the church building has been a significant presence in my life for as long as I can remember. Whether it was playing in the church as my dad worked, attending a board meeting, or gathering with my brothers and sisters on a Sunday morning, the church as a physical space was always there. Or rather, I was always there.

When COVID-19 began, and everything began to shut down, church moved online. we didn’t want to give up meeting together (Hebrews 10:25) but the shape of that “meeting” necessarily changed. And thus, church moved online. My church used pre-recorded services, while other churches opted for a live-streaming set-up. All of a sudden, the physicality and embodied-ness both of the church building, and of my brother and sisters, was gone or happening somewhere in the cloud. And I, theologian that I am, have some questions about all of this. Should I partake in communion online? When a sermon is pre-recorded, what, if anything, is lost in the act of preaching? Does the communion of saints occur over Wi-Fi? What is worship anyways, and can I do it from my couch in front of a TV?

I certainly do not have all the answers here, but my offering to our SKMB community is simply an encouragement to continue, or to begin, to ask these questions. Throughout COVID-19, the temptation for churches has been to react, to find a solution to our predicament now. However, I think the invitation is for us to pause and to think theologically about the present reality we as the Church find ourselves in due to COVID-19. I will keep you in the loop on my journey.

Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”   Jeremiah 29:11

Stephanie Christianson

Adjunct Faculty Advisor

Horizon College and Seminary

SKMB Advisor & Liaison

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When Church Goes Online

“Technology is not in itself opposed to spirituality and to religion.  But it presents a great temptation.”

Thomas Merton, theologian (1915 – 1968)