Online church provides Sunday worship experience for most students during COVID shutdown

by Abbie Altena/

Gatherings of 250+ people, then 50+ people, and then 10+ people were all banned in mid-March due to the outbreak of COVID-19. This caused not only schools to cancel regular events, but also churches to cancel regular worship services.

According to a recent survey, 95% of students responding said that their churches have been able to do some form of a recorded, drive-in, or virtual live church during this pandemic. “A typical Sunday is now waking up half an hour before the broadcast starts to eat breakfast and make some coffee, then joining my family in the living room to watch a virtual church service we mirror onto our TV,” said senior Emily Van Beek.

Trying to keep routines as normal as possible during this time has been a goal for some PC families. “We all run upstairs at the last minute with our breakfasts and watch our church service on the TV. We make sure to watch it when it is actually live so that we try to keep some ‘schedule,’” said senior Abby Gosselink. 

Through the changes PC families have been finding new Sunday morning traditions. “On a typical Sunday morning we have cinnamon rolls for breakfast and watch our church service from 9:15-10:30. I like the relaxed feeling at home, but I miss the worship songs and a church body,” said study hall monitor Amy Branderhorst.

Some changes in families have included finding creative ways to connect with extended family and elders safely. “My family tries to watch church live, but sometimes we wait and watch it later in the morning.  At 1:00 my mom’s side of the family Zooms together.  It’s fun to catch up with them because they live in various places, and I believe it connects my family better,” said junior Kaylee Bandstra.

Several students have enjoyed being able to sleep in more and stay in comfy clothes to watch their virtual church service. “I kind of like virtual church better, because I’m able to watch church in comfy clothes while eating cinnamon rolls,” said junior Elizabeth Brouwer.

Some students have found the blessings in being able to focus more on the sermon rather than other distractions that might come with church. “Sundays are pretty chill. My family and I wake up and watch the church service in pajamas on the couch. I like how comfortable church is during this shutdown! I don’t have to focus on looking good, I can just plop down on the couch and focus on the service,” said freshman Avery Verhoef. 

Most students have said that they do miss being able to sing praise with a congregation, see friends from church, and enjoy the fellowship that church brings. “I truly miss worship and the feeling of church community!” said freshman Anna De Boef.

Students have missed being involved in their church worship services. “My typical Sunday morning would look like either my dad, sister, or I would be on praise team and had to get up early to get to church, so the thing that I miss the most is probably doing sound and mixing all the instruments and singers together,” said junior Lindsey Jansen. 

Along with church services, youth groups haven’t been able to meet in person since mid-March. According to students, it is about 50/50 with churches that have continued to do some form of youth group and ones that have just cancelled all meetings.

Some creative ways youth groups have stayed connected is through Zoom video chats, online challenges, live streams, and recorded videos. “My youth group has small group time and give each other prayer requests over a Zoom call,” said freshman Karlie Anderson.

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