How to grow in Worship During Self-Isolation
by David Jacob on March 26th
On March 13th I received my first phone call about the Coronavirus crisis, starting what became an exhausting few weeks of changes, contingencies, and cancellations. If that wasn’t enough, everyone in my household came down with low-grade fevers and coughs. Thankfully, the symptoms passed, and though the hospital did call us in for examination, they determined we were not at high enough risk to test for the virus. Needless to say, my emotions have run the full range of the spectrum lately, and I have found my task as a worship leader taking on a whole new significance.
First, let’s review some basics. What is worship? As one theologian put it, “All true worship is a response to the self-revelation of God in Christ and Scripture, and arises from our reflection on who he is and what he has done.” Worship is God’s gift to us by which we can enjoy His presence and express our love, made possible only by the life and death of Jesus Christ, the God-man, in our place. Worship can occur individually or corporately, involve planning or spontaneity, and take the form of artistic expression or not. Though music forms one of the primary ways God commands His people to worship Him in both the Old and New Testaments, worship is so much more than music, and my job as a worship pastor continues when I take off my guitar.
The reality is, we can grow in personal worship in the face of overwhelming fear, uncertain health, and economic turmoil. I believe God has something for us to learn during this season, if we listen. He doesn’t want us simply to endure this trial, or numb it with Netflix, but to flourish in it. He works all things according to the counsel of His will, and through the unique challenges presented by the COVID-19 crisis, He will build His church, shape His children into the image of Jesus, and show His glory on a worldwide scale.
So how can you and I grow in worship during a time of social distancing? Here are four ways:
- Memorize Scripture. Think about it; you have never had more time to memorize Scripture than right now. Embrace the gift of solitude and commit God’s Word to heart. Scripture will comfort your heart and strengthen your faith. It will protect you from temptation. I’ve had an aspiration for years to memorize Romans 8 but have been unsuccessful. With a focused approach of a few verses a day, I finished committing the chapter to memory last week, and it’s been feeding my soul.
“Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.” Matthew 4:4b
- Schedule time with God. If you’ve never had a consistent devotional time, set one now. Make use of devotional readings, Bible studies, sermons, prayers, or recorded worship music. In lieu of live music, we’re aiming to publish a Spotify playlist that accompanies each week’s sermon. And don’t worry about not being in the gathered church. God loves to hear your song, however imperfectly it may sound to your ears; it’s precious to His.
If you’ve never had family devotions (and trust me, they’re rarely neat!), start the habit. Three components to aim for in family worship are: read, pray, sing. This will look different for each one of our families. See what sticks with yours.
“O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water.” Psalm 63:1
- Gather virtually. Take advantage of the online options Harvest continues to offer (sermons, prayer, small groups, etc.). Host a virtual watch party on our latest church service or sermon. Call a friend in the church. Harvest is releasing resources, links, and videos on a weekly basis through our student ministry, our kids’ ministry, and our social media channels. Don’t use the social isolation as an excuse for relational distancing. God is eager to work in and through His people.
“But exhort one another daily, as long as it is called ‘today,’ that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.” Hebrews 3:13
Pursue an attitude of open-handed surrender. God can do more than we can ask, think, or imagine. So ask Him to show you how you can trust Him more. Invite him into the nooks and crannies of your heart. Repent when you give into fear or selfishness, anger or impatience. Ask Him to grant you a childlike faith and watch Him use you during this season.
“I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.” Romans 12:1
We may be isolated from our church community, but let’s be a people who aim to grow in our individual worship until we can meet in person again. To be sure, the Sunday morning gathering is still the culmination of our personal worship, but the underlying substance—a life of faith—can continue strong during this period of social distancing. Let’s lean into Christ and grow in our personal worship during these troubled times.