Establishing the Home Church as an Orthodox Christian

I think most people experience a time in their lives when they cannot go to a physical church building to worship the Lord for one reason or another – health, distance, etc. In the past, it was really hard to maintain personal worship on one’s own without a physical church to attend …but, by the Grace of God, there are now many wonderful church communities that have invested in really good video equipment to go live-stream and bring their services to those of us who are home bound for one reason or another.

Here are some suggestions for setting up a home church using the live stream church services.

  1. Find a live-stream church service that you can connect with on a spiritual level. One that helps you become spiritually centered so you can worship the Lord together with the live stream community.
  2. Once you have picked a live stream that you look forward to attending, join the Church Community and become a steward – that is, set up monthly Stewardship donations to them – just as if you were attending the church in person. Let them know how spiritually valuable their live stream is to you through this method. Your regular stewardship donation will help them continue to provide this valuable worship experience.
  3. If you are watching a live stream church service, you might consider setting up an icon wall above the TV. Orthodox Christians like to face East when they pray, but many churches in fact do not face East because of how the church is situated on their property- so don’t let the “direction” trouble you. Do the best you can.
  4. During the live stream service, put a small table like a TV table with a nice cloth over it and place a candle on it to light during the service. If you live where the burning of candles is not allowed, put a small electric or battery operated light on the table in front of the TV and turn it on during the church service.
  5. Seek out the appropriate texts for the Church services to go with the live stream service you are worshiping the Lord with. You can always contact the Church and offer to buy their pew book so you can have it at home while you pray with them.
  6. Many Orthodox Communities also have on-line references for church services. If you use those venues regularly, donate to them! Your donations help them to keep their on-line service active – here are a few:
    1. Within the Greek Orthodox Community, that is https://agesinitiatives.com.
    2. Within the Orthodox Church of America, that is https://www.oca.org/liturgics .
    3. Within the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Church, that is https://antiochian.org/liturgicday
  7. What about Sacraments: Holy Communion, Holy Unction, etc.?
    1. Make no mistake, you do have to have contact with a Priest to receive the Sacraments. If you are watching a live-stream and do not have contact with a local Orthodox parish at all, contact the Priest of the live-stream or a priest from the nearest location, for spiritual direction.
  8. How to help loved ones stay connected with the faith when there is no internet.
    1. Set up an Icon Corner in their living space, facing East if possible
    2. Invest in prayer books, candles (or electric/battery operated lights)
    3. If relative players (DVD, CD, etc.) are available, invest in recordings of the Divine Liturgy and special services of the Church.
    4. Visit your loved ones and pray with them. Read the Bible together – or invest in an audio Bible to listen to.
    5. Establish a daily prayer rule.
    6. If you have a spiritual advisor, contact them by mail or phone and ask for spiritual advice and care.