After Worship: You Kind Of Had To Be There

singersLike many churches these days, we record our sermons and post them online so people can listen to them. Not only is it helpful for congregants who couldn’t make it, but it’s a really good way for people new to the church to get a “feel” for us. It’s not unusual for people to tell me they listened to some of my sermons before deciding to come to Chalice for the first time.

But a sermon is only one-third of the worship hour. Just listening to the sermon gives only one slice of the experience. (And listening to a sermon on-line is not at all the same as listening to it as part of a community.)

Today was a perfect example. The story and the reading were critically important parts to the worship. And then there was the song that came after the sermon, a song that John Schulz wrote especially for this service. It was a powerful affirmation of everything that had come before.

Why don’t we record and post the entire service? Maybe we’ll get there someday, but there are complicated copyright laws that govern many different parts of the service, and it is not always okay to post recordings of all things.

And…worship is meant to be experienced. Singing along with a service on the computer–and I’ve done it myself, when watching a recorded service–is not the same as singing with a group of people. Watching online is not the same as being there in person.

If you’re like me, you already spend a lot of time on the computer. I watch tv shows and movies online. I read books on my tablet. Much of my work is typing and working online. Worship is one of the times–increasingly precious–where I am physically present for a communal experience that cannot be replicated on the computer.

That’s what I like about it.

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