School of Music


Doctor of Philosophy


R. Scott Connell


Online Worship, Virtual Worship, Worship Leading Online, COVID-19 Worship, Pastoral Care, Synchronous Online Worship, Asynchronous Online Worship, Online Church


Liturgy and Worship | Music


Online church services are normative for many churches. Given the relentless nature of creating a service every Sunday, church and worship leaders often do not consider how the online participant experiences the service they are viewing. Virtual reality church services are not yet as ubiquitous as online services but also warrant study. Careful attention must be given to how and why a church provides online and virtual services for its members. To not do so is a disservice to congregants and potentially a waste of time and resources for a church. This phenomenological qualitative study through the lens of a biblical worldview explores how online participants experience pastoral care through worship. The experiences of the three participant groups are compared with each other: online service participants, online service planners and practitioners, and virtual service participants. Responses vary but certain themes emerge such as the recognition that the online church service, which does have a place at times, cannot be the entirety of church life for believers. There are differences between what a church or worship leader believes they are providing online and what the participant experiences. Ultimately, churches should consider the biblical, philosophical, and methodological implications of their online services to develop a well thought out strategy and rationale to serve as a foundation to best shepherd those who participate.