Over the course of the ongoing pandemic, many churches have had to struggle to adapt to the new online worship atmosphere. The effort to move church online involves so many moving parts and so many shifts in perspective and strategy, that many pastors and worshipping communities found themselves overwhelmed at the beginning. The jokes about awkward transitions during zoom calls, the struggle of pre-recording what are essentially long-distance worship teams, and the inevitable tension between oops I thought I was muted and can you guys hear me? have become routine at this point. But as we have settled in to a temporary new quasi-normal, some notable examples have sprung up of groups who have been able to maximize their use of technology to enhance online church services.
Among those who are perhaps doing it best is Anthem Worship, based out of the Loma Linda University Church. As stated on their website by their Contemporary Worship Pastor, Josh Jamieson:
"Anthem is a contemporary service rooted in the vision and mission of Loma Linda University Church and that of Senior Pastor Randy Roberts. Anthem is geared toward reaching the student population on the campus of Loma Linda University as well as anyone seeking a more contemporary style of worship. Anthem is a place that focuses on a spirit of hospitality, authentic biblical worship, and serving those around them."
Over the month of March (2021), Anthem has been releasing what they're calling Season 2 of their online worship series, Studio Church. Services complete with sermons and well-produced contemporary worship sets have been premiered the last three Sabbath mornings, and have featured a swath of different musicians and singers taking their turns in Anthem Worship's team.
While most of the worship sets involve the band's deeply electronic renditions of well-known songs, Anthem Worship has also released a handful of original songs through their YouTube channel. They also recently announced an upcoming album of original songs, due out sometime this spring.
As many churches begin attempting to find ways to integrate both their online audience with cautious returns to in-person services, it will be good for folks to keep their eyes on leaders, artists, pastors, and church communities who seem to be striking that balance well. In a time when "doing church" has been difficult for many, this one team has managed not only to find a way to make the weekly service happen, but to foster creativity and aim at excellence in production and execution. For one group to be putting out some of the most well-produced video services in Adventism and to also be contributing original compositions to the (at times seemingly meager) Adventist worship songwriting tradition, says a lot about the passion, focus, and skill that is coalescing around the Loma Linda University Church.
If you haven't checked out Anthem Worship yet, make sure to give them a shot. You may have just found the closest thing to an in-person worship concert that you have had access to in a while.