• The Rev Ken Howard

Worship in the Midst of COVID-19: Clinging to Old Paradigms Can Be Fatal



By the Rev. Ken Howard

This blog post is part of a series on strategies and tools for helping congregations survive and thrive in the face of the COVID crisis. This blog will help congregations better worship together during the Coronavirus pandemic. Click here for previous post

Church pastor dies a week after contracting COVID-19


This article was published on the Chicago Sun Times Wire Service on Monday, March 30. In this short but moving piece about assistant pastor Angel Escamilla, assistant pastor of the local Assemblies of God church, the lead pastor describes Angel as having had “the spirit of a dove, the strength of a warrior, the faith of Abraham and when he prayed you knew he was talking to Heaven.” 


What the first article didn’t say is that he contracted COVID-19 after two weeks of the entire worship team gathering at the church’s worship center to livestream services. It didn’t report that the pastor had told the team that livestreaming from the church was an essential service, and those who didn’t feel that they were essential were welcome to stay home if that made them feel more safe. It didn’t convey the fact that several members of the worship team had also tested positive for COVID-19 and were sick or that the lead pastor had encouraged them to withhold this information from the congregation out of “pastoral concern.”


All of that news was broken by a local investigative reporter in a piece published the very next day.


This is what happens when we forget that with the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic, our old paradigms of worship have crumbled and the new paradigm of worship together during the Coronavirus pandemic has not yet fully risen from the ashes of the old. 


In fact, the task before us is not figuring out how to adapt old ways to a new situation, but rather working together, by trial and error, to create an entirely new paradigm from scratch. In other words, we have to turn our thinking Inside Out. Because, as Jesus said, “New wine explodes old wineskins.” 


Or as Simon Sinek put it , “Start with Why”


[Read more…]

This post was originally intended to expand on our previous article “What We’ve Learned from Our Experiment with Online Worship,” but was O.B.E. (overtaken by events). Click here to read that article, which will soon be updated with new learnings.


Future articles may include:


  • Strategies for Outreach – Part 2

  • and How to Use Them

  • Things people can do to create a sense of community with their own neighbors and neighborhoods.

  • Tools and strategies for hosting online fellowship.

  • Tools and strategies for facilitating online bible study and formation.

  • Social Vulnerability Scales and Other Tools and strategies for locating and engaging populations most vulnerable to COVID19. 

  • Tools and strategies by which judicatories can resource their congregations. 

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