The church was my second home until it closed due to the pandemic. Finding faith online has been a bittersweet journey

modern ways of worship

Before the pandemic hit, my Sundays looked like this:

I’d wake up early, dress in my Sunday best, and drive to the white-stone church that’s been a cornerstone of our community since my grandparents’ time.

It was more than a place of worship — it was a home away from home.

St. Andrew’s Church was more than just a building — it was where I found comfort during rough times, celebrated joyful moments, and fostered a deep sense of belonging.

Then came March 2020, when the world as we knew it changed drastically due to COVID-19.

Our beloved St. Andrew’s had to close its doors in a bid to safeguard its congregation. Like many others, I was left feeling lost and disconnected from my spiritual home.

In response to this new reality, our church moved online, offering virtual services and gatherings on Zoom.

It’s been a process of trial and error — learning how to navigate digital platforms, grappling with occasional technical glitches, and trying to recreate a sense of community through screens rather than pews.

This is my story so far about finding faith online during a time when physical churches had to shut their doors:

The digital pulpit: My initial steps

In the beginning, the transition to online worship was, to say the least, disorienting.

I had to swap my usual Sunday morning routine for logging into Zoom meetings, where our pastor delivered sermons from his living room.

The first few weeks were filled with awkward silences and technical glitches. We’d often speak over one another, and there were times when the internet connection would falter right during a poignant prayer.

It felt strange, to see familiar faces boxed into little squares on my laptop screen instead of sitting next to me in the pews.

But as weeks turned into months, we all started getting the hang of it.

Our pastor mastered sharing his screen for hymn lyrics, and we learnt to mute our microphones during prayers to avoid disruptions.

We even managed to hold a virtual charity bake sale – an event that had always been a highlight of our church calendar.

While these experiences didn’t replicate the warmth of in-person gatherings, they did offer something unexpected – accessibility.

But this newfound convenience also made me question some deep-seated beliefs about worship and community.

Challenging the conventional: Redefining Church community

The common belief in our community, and perhaps in many others, is that a church is a physical place.

It’s the building with the beautiful stained-glass windows, the echoing choir, and the sense of sacredness that fills the air.

But when our church closed its physical doors, I was forced to challenge this long-held belief.

Joining our congregation online, I began to see that a church is not just about bricks and mortar. It’s about the people, their faith, and the shared sense of community.

The geographical distance seemed irrelevant as we prayed together, supported each other through tough times, and celebrated small wins – all through a computer screen.

In fact, it felt even more intimate at times.

We were invited into each other’s homes virtually, getting glimpses of everyday life – kids running around in the background or pets making surprise appearances.

Simply put, it was a stark contrast to the carefully curated versions of ourselves we’d present at physical church services.

This experience challenged the traditional notion that faith and fellowship require a physical space. And though I missed our church building dearly, I realized that our community remained intact despite being physically apart.

Finding my footing: Dealing with digital worship

The key to my transition was embracing the change rather than resisting it.

I had to accept that the pandemic had altered our lives in ways we couldn’t control, and this included how we practiced our faith.

I started by setting up a small prayer nook in my home – a quiet corner with a candle and my Bible. This helped me create a sacred space for online services, making them feel more like a real church experience.

Next, I put myself out there more.

I volunteered to lead a few online Bible study sessions and actively participated in virtual group discussions. This engagement allowed me to connect with the community on a deeper level, despite the physical distance.

But perhaps the most significant step was opening my mind to this new form of worship.

I had to let go of the notion that church was solely a physical space and embrace the idea that it could also be a virtual gathering of faithful hearts.

Stepping back: Embracing change and growth

Throughout this journey, I’ve realized that sometimes the best thing we can do is take responsibility for our situation, even if it’s not our fault.

The pandemic was beyond any of our control, but how we responded to it was entirely up to us.

In my case, I chose to embrace the digital shift in my religious practice.

It’s also been a process of learning to think for myself.

Societal norms and traditions had led me to believe that worship must be confined to a physical space. But when circumstances forced me out of this comfort zone, I began questioning these ingrained beliefs and found a new way to connect with my faith.

Here are the key takeaways from my experience:

  • Acknowledge your current dissatisfaction or struggles.
  • Take responsibility for your situation, even when it’s not your fault.
  • Question societal norms and expectations that limit your potential.
  • Embrace change and use it as an opportunity for personal growth.

Remember, it’s okay to feel uncomfortable when stepping out of your comfort zone. But instead of resisting change, try embracing it. You might surprise yourself with how much you can grow and adapt.

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Mikkel Andrews

Mikkel Andrews

I'm Mikkel Andrews a theology professor currently based in Philippines. I've been walking with Christ ever since I can remember. My life's work is about understanding His teachings and sharing that knowledge. You'll often find me involved in community outreach or curled up with a book on theology, always looking to deepen my faith. When I'm not volunteering or diving into the latest theological texts, I'm writing for Bible Scripture to make spirituality relatable.

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