On March 12, many of the Christian Reformed Church’s Worship Ministries endorsed coaches gathered for their first-ever meeting. The agenda was full, and the coaches were eagerly anticipating all they would learn from each other. But that morning as they gathered, they were confronted with the reality that COVID-19 was spreading and churches were starting to shut down.
Knowing that worship leaders and churches would be scrambling to meet the needs of their congregants, especially during Holy Week and Easter, the group tabled its agenda and began to create resources. These resources were posted on The Network (crcna.org/network), where most were accessed hundreds of times, some over 1,000 times.
Katie Roelofs, minister of music and worship at Washington D.C. CRC, reflected, “I marvel at God’s timing for bringing us together and sending us home just in time to shepherd our churches through a transition to online worship. Our time together praying, discerning, and planning fed my soul and gave me a deeper well to draw from in the coming weeks of chaos and uncertainty. It was one of the last interactions many of us had with a group of people, and what better way to end than in worship of the God who drew us together, equipped us, and continues to work amongst us through God’s Spirit as we strive to foster worshiping communities in this new context?”
Creating these resources wasn’t all the endorsed coaches did during this time of pandemic. Several also served as panelists for a number of webinars focused on questions related to planning online worship. Others led webinars on topics such as “Self-Care for Worship Leaders” and “Worshiping with the Psalms in This Time of Pandemic and Isolation.” Those webinars (and 25 other video resources) are accessible on Worship Ministries’ YouTube channel: bit.ly/2ww7eSZ.
Online tech also allowed CRC worship leaders to support each other on the CRC Worship Ministries’ Facebook group, through twice-a-week prayer times, and with an online book group formed to study Still the Storm: Worship and Leadership in Difficult Times, by Kathleen Smith.
Even as travel continues to be restricted, endorsed coaches are working with individuals and churches via online tech.
Rev. Joan DeVries, assistant professor of worship arts at Trinity Western University in Langley, B.C., wrote, “As someone who is passionate about the health of the church, I love the opportunities to connect with leaders far and near who have specific questions or issues concerning worship. Restrictions on travel don’t need to hinder connecting via phone or internet. We’re here to help!”
In fact, Rod Snaterse, who teaches worship classes at various seminaries and colleges in the Edmonton, Alta., area, appreciates “the increased accessibility and versatility that these online platforms have brought to the communal experiences of sharing, learning, and growing together. Community is what we make of it!”
Rev. Chris Walker, pastor of worship and arts at Covenant Live Church in Grand Haven, Mich., said, “Of course, nothing can totally replace being together in a shared space for a shared experience. But technology can help us overcome various boundaries, so we can continue to find new ways of sharing the good ways the Spirit is at work within our churches.”