Like so many different church buildings the world over, mine needed to make a sudden and surprising determination within the face of a pending lockdown: Will we broadcast our providers or will we not? Below regular circumstances we might by no means even entertain the notion, however with a looming interval of isolation that will final a minimum of weeks and that might properly stretch into months, we had been all of the sudden offered with the dilemma. We determined to type of broadcast our providers. Let me let you know what we settled on and why.
A Matter of Ecclesiology
Grace Fellowship Church has all the time tried to offer quite a lot of consideration to ecclesiologythe theology of churchand to rigorously put that theology into apply. It’s for ecclesiological causes that we might not sometimes broadcast a service since we imagine that assembling as a church requires bodily assembling. Below regular circumstances, our concern with broadcasting a service is that it could permit folks to suppose they’re genuinely collaborating in church when they’re really solely observing it. Those that solely watch church from afar merely can’t be full members. (We finest see the bodily necessity of assembling within the sacramentswhile you could possibly take heed to a sermon and sing alongside to hymns via the magic of cameras and screens, you can’t be baptized and can’t take part within the Lords Supper. Theres a bodily element to Christian worship!) So now we have displayed our convictions about ecclesiology by providing solely actual providers reasonably than digital ones.
However then got here lockdown and now we needed to face the query of broadcasting providers within the new and distinctive context through which we couldn’t bodily assemble. Beforehand, those that advocated streaming our providers sometimes did so for causes of preferencethey had the flexibility to bodily assemble however most popular to observe at residence as a substitute. However now it was a matter of necessityit was broadcast or nothing. The elders met and decided we might go browsing with a primary however nonetheless real worship service.
For the primary two weeks, not less than two of our elders and some different church members had been capable of meet on the church workplaces on Saturday afternoon to report a service. Preserving it primary and utilizing a one-take format, that they had a brief worship service collectively and recorded it. On this means they had been basically a miniature of our church. They had been representatives of the entire. After we watched it in our houses on Sunday morning, we had been watching one thing that felt acquainted and that had a hoop of authenticity to it. These had been our folks worshipping collectively and it wasnt too nice of a stretch for the remainder of us to affix in.
However after the primary two weeks, the federal government elevated its pleas for folks to cease mixing. The messaging was clearthey had been asking households to isolate themselves from different households. Wanting to honor our governmental leaders, we adopted their lead. Now, no matter we broadcast would not be a miniature service and would not embody a number of representatives of the church who had been bodily collectively. As an alternative, one particular person would stand in his residence and report some parts of the service whereas one other particular person would stand in his residence and report different parts of the service, and the items would later be stitched collectively. This felt far much less acquainted and felt far much less genuine. It was one of the best we might do, nevertheless it was clear that one thing had modified from one week to the subsequent.
So at this level we started to suppose in a different way about our providers and determined to make use of some completely different nomenclature. It might be simple to see this as getting hung up on semantics, however we really imagine it helped make clear the matter. We stopped broadcasting worship providers and started broadcasting chapel providers.
Going from Church to Chapel
Whats the distinction? Nicely, a worship service presupposes the gathering of an area church; a chapel service presupposes the gathering of one thing apart from an area church. A worship service entails an area church bodily gathering below the management and authority of elders to allow them to take part in all the weather that make up Christian worshippreaching, Scripture-reading, prayer, sacraments, fellowship, and so forth. A chapel service entails a company apart from an area church gathering collectively with out the management and authority of elders and, subsequently, collaborating in solely a few of the parts that make up Christian worship. A chapel service could characteristic preaching or instructing from the Bible, it might characteristic singing and Scripture-reading, nevertheless it doesn’t characteristic the oversight of elders or the one-another ministry of membership. Hopefully it doesn’t characteristic the sacraments. Whereas there could also be some overlap between the weather of the 2, they’re essentially completely different. And we believed that one of the best we are able to supply our church in these unusual instances is one thing that’s nearer to a chapel service than a real native church worship service.
This distinction could also be a high quality one, nevertheless it was useful in directing us. It resolved the query of the Lords Supperwe should not assembling as an area church so it could be inappropriate to aim to have a good time the Lords Supper. It convicted us that we must always take away some parts which are frequent to our regular providers however which are significantly tied to native church worship, equivalent to company confessions of sin and assurances of pardon. It satisfied us that we must always maintain our providers easy and primary. It freed us from having to agonize concerning the comparatively low-quality of our audio and video manufacturing. (See extra about that at Pauls weblog.) So now we have welcomed folks, sung a few songs, had a pastor pray for the congregation, learn the Scripture, preached a sermon, and browse a blessing from the Phrase. It has been as easy and primary as that.
And so, for the foreseeable future, we’re offering chapel providers to the folks of Grace Fellowship Church. They’re easy and, in their very own means, reasonably unsatisfying. But they appear to be what the Lord has for us at the moment and on this circumstance. At the least, they’re the answer now we have arrived at in the interim. Whilst we take pleasure in them for what they’re, we’re eager for the day once we can as soon as once more collect collectively in true fellowship to as soon as once more take pleasure in a real worship service.