[Jesus said] “But the time is coming—and is here!—when true worshippers will worship in spirit and truth. The Father looks for those who worship him this way. God is spirit, and it is necessary to worship God in spirit and truth.” – John 4:23-24
I believe we need to change the way we are using the word “virtual.” In fact, I’m going to try to stop using it to describe the activities I’m involved with when it comes to my church family.
(Parenthetically, I have to point out that – yes – WFPC does have a rather large banner outside promoting “Virtual Worship”, and – no – I’m not suggesting we replace it, and – yes – we all understand what it means….)
“Virtual,” according to Vocabulary.com, “is an adjective used to describe something that exists in essence but not in actuality.”
- I am persuaded that when several hundred of us met for worship Sunday morning, the experience was not qualified by the word “virtual.” (click here for the message and my music)
- Then, later, the fellowship I had with my Sunday school class was anything but “virtual.” 21 of us actually got together for a time of prayer, learning, and discussion – albeit online.
- My Saturday morning men and my Wednesday evening men are not “virtually” meeting, we really are “actually” functioning as a covenant group.
- Sunday evening, our amazing youth staff hosted three separate gatherings via Zoom, where literally scores of middle-schoolers, high-school youth, and college-aged young people were very much “together” in spirit and in truth.
This is our new reality:
I write this not to nitpick about definitions but to say that what we are experiencing is a new reality, nothing virtual about it. Because this situation is not virtual but real, our faith, our relationships, our worship of God, our experience of being a Christ-centered community are not approximations of something else, they are the thing itself.
Sunday I received many photographs from church families (images featuring two, three, four, five or more people) participating in their homes along with those of us who were leading worship in Rebekah’s office Sunday morning. If the computer read “200 views” at any given moment it likely represented anywhere from 300-750 people actually active “in” worship. Consequently there’s no way to know what a number like “1.1K views” translates to. At the end of the day we are the body of Christ and there is nothing virtual about that.
See what I said there, “actually active” and “participating” and “in worship”.
Sunday School was a hoot!
My first ever “Zoom” Adult-education class was a hoot. There were 21 people in twelve little videos up on my iPad screen. Fortunately my friend John did the legwork technologically so we could also follow along with the PowerPoint slides I had made to help me present the lesson. It was the conversation/discussion part that was the real miracle.
Just looking at those faces, people created to live in community and motivated to continue learning together, it gives me so much hope.
We will continue to be a witness to love and light in this community. We will love one another the best we possibly can. We will share our lives and our faith in every possible way.
Peace to all of you. Because love not only wins, love finds a way – DEREK
photos from Sunday March 22:
Derek has published seven books in the past decade (you can find them at https://www.amazon.com/Derek-Maul/e/B001JS9WC4), and there’s always something new in the works.
Before becoming a full-time writer, Derek taught public school in Florida for eighteen years, including cutting-edge work with autistic children. He holds bachelor’s degrees in psychology and education from Stetson University and the University of West Florida.
Derek is active in teaching at his church: adult Sunday school, and a men’s Bible study/spiritual formation group. He enjoys the outdoors, traveling, photography, reading, cooking, playing guitar, and golf.