Church Service at Home During COVID-19
Are you trying to figure out how to have a church service at home during COVID-19? We have 5 tips to help you make this a sacred home-centered experience.
On March 12th 2020 The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saint announced that it was suspending “all public worship services, including sacrament meetings”. Many members have been counselled by local leadership to have a church service at home. This is something we have been getting prepared for with a home-centered, church-supported Come, Follow Me program and the new Primary and Youth Program.
Still, many of us still have question on how to conduct a church service at home. I spoke to some smart people and did some online research to figure out the best way to go about this for my own family. I want to share with you 5 tips to having a successful church service a home with the COVID-19 pandemic resticting our ability to worship at your church meetinghouse.
#1: Administer the Ordinance of the Sacrament (where authorized)
While Melchizedek Priesthood holders and Priest in the Aaronic Priesthood have the power to bless the sacrament, only the Bishop holds the keys to authorize who can administer the sacrament. Idividual wards will have different ways of handling this based on geography, contagion risk, or ministering effectiveness. If your Bishop has authorized this to me done by Priesthood holders in the home or through ministering brothers, it should be the focus of your sabbath worship.
Do all you can to make this a special moment for your family and keep some semblance of regularity. Doctrine and Covenants tells us that
The General Handbook gives great guidelines on administering the sacrament. It should be a reverent moment that reflects the sacred nature of the Savior’s Atonement. While Doctrine and Covenants 27:2 tells us that, “…that it mattereth not what ye shall eat or what ye shall drink when ye partake of the sacrament”, I would recommend we continue to use bread and water as we do on a typical Sunday.
Something fun like brownies and mild or pancakes and syrup might make it more difficult for children to “do it with an eye single to [His] glory”. Additionally, we want to maintain as much consistency as possible during this inconsistent time. Schools are closing, parents might be out of work or working more, and planned activities have been cancelled. We should do all we can to make things feel similar.
Still, we can do things to make this feel special. We could take time to make the bread ourselves. We could designate certain dishes and a cloth for use in the sacrament. Like it says in Doctrine and Covenants, we should keep an eye single to the glory of the Lord.
#2: Include Music in Your Church Service at Home
When church moved from a 3 hour block to 2 hours, there were some things that got removed or reduced from our worship services. I thought it was very profound that while sharing time, birthday songs, and other things were discontinued; music in Primary remained. I also loved that singing time got an increased emphasis to be a vehicle for doctinal instruction.
The General Hanbook for The Church tells us that, “the melodies, words, and messages of Primary songs can teach children the doctrine of the gospel and stay in their hearts throughout their lives.” (12.2.4) You can find reccomended songs that align Come, Follow Me here.
Even if you don’t have Primary aged children, I would say this principle applies. Youth and even adults can be blessed by singing the hymns of Christ. The Sacred Music App has most of the Hymn Book hymns that you can sing along to. You can invite family members to provide special musical numbers as well. Or maybe a special musical number from the Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square?
They even have a Greatest Hits Playlist!
#3: Wear Your Sunday Best
My biggest concern is, ‘how do I maintain the sanctity of the sabbath day and avoid making church service at home too casual. We often refer to General Conference as ‘Pajama Church’ becuase we are often in our pajamas as we watch. That isn’t neciserily a bad thing, but I’m concerned of the effects of this if things go on for more than a couple weeks.
Especially if we are administering the sacrament, we should be wearing our Sunday Best to help preserve the sactity of the Sabbath and help our children remember who’s day this is. In Jeffrey R. Holland’s talk “Do in Remembrance of Me” he suggests that Aaronic Priesthood holders wear white shirts. He goes on to say, “that simple suggestion is not intended to be pharisaic or formalistic. We do not want deacons or priests in uniforms or unduly concerned about anything but the purity of their lives. But how our young people dress can teach a holy principle to us all, and it certainly can convey sanctity.”
#4: Have an Outline with Talks and Lessons
Having a Church Service at home should have a different feel than a Come, Follow Me discussion or a Family Night. It should feel like our Sunday worship service and classes, but in the home!
It is a great opportunity for fathers and mothers to step up their gospel instruction in the home. Invite your children and youth to give talks. With the new hour long Sacrament Meeting, our youth are getting less chances to speak. My son actually just have his first talk and he turns 15 next month! This can be a great opportunity to teach and train them to give Christ-centered talks and be ready to share their testimony.
LDS Bookstore has a great At-Home Sacrament Meeting Program Printable. It can be simple, but we should be intentional.
Additionally us as parents have more opportunities to share our testimonies with our children. Keep discussing Come, Follow Me for Individuals and Families during the week and on Sunday, teach from the Primary or Sunday School lessons.
You might be a little nervous to be called upon to be a teacher. We wrote a simple blog post to help you feel like you don’t suck at teaching.
President Russell. Nelson shared a video about the Coronavirus outbreak and he recommends that we use the Book of Mormon Videos in our home instruction. This is a uniquie opportunity that can provide some uniquie blessings.
#5: Share Success Stories and Encouragement
Just like Come, Follow Me over a year ago, this is going to be a new experience for many of use. Even with these ideas, things are not going to go as planned. Kids are gonna fight on the couch, black socks are going to go missing, you’re going to forget to plan your lesson, your going to realize you’re out of bread Sunday just before your Church Service at Home. Guess what, so will everyone else.
Don’t give up, keep trying. Share your successes online. Support those who are struggling and share your own ideas. While you are doing this in your own home, we are also all doing it in ours. This is a perfect time to reach out to those you minister to. Offer to help them in both the physical things and the spiritual.
This isn’t the first time Latte-day Saints have been asked to hold Church Service at Home. In 1989, Latter-day Saints had to freeze all church meetings due to the government of Ghana banning all activities of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the country. While it was a trying time; the members grew closer to their families and the Lord. This video shares how many of the ideas above, blessed them.
What Are You Going to Do?
What ideas do you have? How are you doing church service at home? What blessings are you seeing? Where do you need help? Share in the comments your experience so we can help and edify eachother.