Original Research

From in-person to online worship

Willem H. Oliver
Verbum et Ecclesia | Vol 43, No 1 | a2404 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ve.v43i1.2404 | © 2022 Willem H. Oliver | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 23 October 2021 | Published: 24 May 2022

About the author(s)

Willem H. Oliver, Department of Christian Spirituality, Church History and Missiology, College of Human Sciences, University of South Africa, Pretoria, South Africa


For too long, the world of theology was separated from the digital world. At present, the church of God is facing a unique moment, in which they have to decide how to act as a community of joyful and engaging followers of Jesus in a world where coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) protocols like wearing masks and maintaining physical distancing are followed and where digital connectivity has become indispensable. Many people refer to this period as the ‘new normal’, while it is actually the interim period between the ‘old normal’ and the ‘new normal’ which is to come. What should the church of God do in this period, first to accommodate her congregants now, and second to prepare herself and them for the time to come? This unique moment should be utilised to its fullest in both instances. This article discusses the three periods indicated above, with the focus on the present time. It only concerns the Christian church and her actions pre-, during, and post-COVID-19. The main source of this article is a book published in 2020 by Heidi Campbell, The distanced church: Reflections on doing church online. The insights gained from this article can be of much help, especially in South Africa, to (re)gain momentum as church of God in a pandemic-struck country during the present time, and afterwards.

Intradisciplinary and/or interdisciplinary implications: Semper reformanda: The church is in constant change/reformation. This article intends to assist pastors and lecturers in the transformation process from in-person to online or hybrid worship, requiring a mental paradigm shift. It involves Church History, the Bible, and Practical Theology. Will the church adapt or die? The debate is on.


Church worship; church service; digital services; online services; pastor; congregants; COVID-19


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