How do we worship during this pandemic, if not in church?

Via Yio Chu Kang Chapel

Pastor Rick Toh, Yio Chu Kang Chapel // November 5, 2021, 2:43 pm

WhatsApp Image 2021-11-03 at 17.28.45

Covid-19 has forced us to seek and rediscover what it means to worship, writes Ps Rick Toh. Photo by Salt&Light.

With church life disrupted by the Covid-19 pandemic in a profound way, some of us miss going to church. We miss the pews, the ambience and the acoustics of a church sanctuary.

While churches have turned to online platforms to conduct their weekly worship services, we find it hard to participate in these online platforms. We struggle to concentrate and pay attention.

Perhaps God is using this pandemic to help us discover and rethink worship through Scripture.

We find worshipping God in a physical assembly much richer in experience.

Some of us, however, don’t miss going to church. We may wonder: “What’s the point of going to church when we still can’t sing?”

We tend to see singing as a core activity in Christian worship. We find that we cannot truly worship God when we cannot sing.

Perhaps God is using this pandemic to help us rethink what worship truly is.

Perhaps He is inviting us to look to Scripture to discover afresh the heart of worship.

What the Bible says about worship

1. It is not confined to a physical space

“A time is coming and has now come when the true worshippers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshippers the Father seeks.” (John 4:21-23)

God has chosen His people to be His dwelling place; we can worship Him anywhere and anytime.

At the well where He met the Samaritan woman, Jesus revealed that there would come a time when the worship of God would not be bound by physical locality and facility. Because of His atoning sacrifice, every believer has now become a holy temple of God (1 Corinthians 3:16).

The physical sanctuary, no matter how skilfully designed to inspire awe, is not the dwelling place of God. Instead, God has chosen His people to be His dwelling place.

This means that worship doesn’t have to happen in a specific building or place: We can worship God anywhere and anytime, praying, praising and feasting on His Word together.

2. It is more than singing

Singing is just one of the ways of worshipping God — not the only one.

Is Covid an opportunity to learn to embrace different postures of worship?

Perhaps we can consider this thought: If singing is the only way to worship God, what would the deaf and mute among us do?

The book of Psalms tells us that clapping hands (Psalm 47:1), raising hands (Psalm 63:4), dancing (Psalm 149:3), bowing down, kneeling (Psalm 95:6), standing (Psalm 33:8), shouting for joy (Psalm 100:1), proclaiming, testifying (Psalm 40:9-10) and simply being still (Psalm 46:10) are all biblical ways of worshipping God.

Perhaps Covid-19 has given us an opportunity to learn to embrace different postures of worship, such that we do not always depend on singing.

3. It is more than a weekend activity

“I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God – this is your true and proper worship.” (Romans 12:1)

May this pandemic help us expand our worship vocabulary and return to the heart of worship.

Worship does not happen only at weekend worship services. 

Romans 12:1 reminds us that worship happens when we present our lives as living sacrifices to God. This means living a life wholly devoted to Him, not being conformed to the ways of this world but seeking to abide in His perfect will.

In the same manner, Micah 6:6-8 echoes that true worship happens when one pursues justice, loves mercy and walks humbly before God.

When we go out to feed the poor and care for the homeless, when we meet the needs of a brother or sister, when we share the Gospel with a friend, when we show hospitality to strangers – all these can be acts of worship when we do them in Jesus’ name.

Worship does not cease because we cannot go to church or we cannot sing.

So let us worship Him!

Worship does not cease because we cannot go to church or we cannot sing. We can worship God in small groups and in a less formal setting. We can worship God using different biblical postures and ways.

While video conferencing platforms are not conducive to congregational singing, we can turn on our videos and use hand gestures like raising of hands to convey that we are worshipping together as a church. Small Group House Churches (SGHCs) can also incorporate a time of testimony where members proclaim God’s goodness and give thanks to Him.

Most importantly, we worship God by presenting our lives to Him daily, loving Him, serving Him and caring for His people. In this pandemic, let us excel in good works and shine our light in such a way that others may glorify God. SGHCs can worship God together through participating in Gospel outreach and missional initiatives.

May this pandemic help us return to the heart of worship and also expand our worship vocabulary.

This devotion was first published by Yio Chu Kang Chapel and has been republished with permission. 


Three ways to help make online worship a special and sacred time

Poets & Prophets: Micah S’pore album marries music, photos and devotionals for a new worship experience

About the author

Pastor Rick Toh, Yio Chu Kang Chapel

Ps Rick Toh was an avid IT educator for more than 10 years before the Lord called him to enter into pastoral ministry. He is currently the lead pastor of Yio Chu Kang Chapel and also the Acting CEO of Bless Community Services. He is happily married to Janice with whom he has two sons.