I've been involved in the recording of worship for a while now. I can still remember as a child when Boston Avenue United Methodist Church put in cameras for a broadcast of their worship at the 11:00 hour on ABC in Tulsa. I liked to sit in the balcony and I remember when they put in these huge spotlights that would shine down on the pulpit area so that it wouldn't appear too dark on television.
Toward the end of my appointment to Piedmont, we put in video equipment primarily to record sermons at the 8:30 service for broadcast at the Cashion church later that morning. Because of a tight window and poor upload speeds, we would drive it out on a flash drive! One of the by-products of this mission outreach was the ability to livestream our worship services to reach a wider congregation. This was back in 2013.
|Picture by Kathryn Witzel. Used by permission.|
I remember hearing that we would go back and forth with waves of infection before we conquered COVID-19 but when things were looking good, I didn't want to think about losing any ground. Like most, I was ready to put it all behind me!
I have heard that having a video option of your worship service is here to stay. It is something that church members are beginning to expect and is more likely the way that people "visit" your church for the first time.
Many of us began to project online worship on the fly when our churches were closed in the spring of 2020. We learned about our internet broadband capabilities and found that not all Wi-Fi speeds are created equal! Platforms also had their share of trouble with the added traffic on Sunday mornings which caused more glitches at the onset.
As we see our hospitals and ICUs filling up again, many people and some churches are returning to online participation. Since we've been at this a while, it is good for us to evaluate how we are doing and to think about what we could improve.
A good first look would be to your church website and Facebook pages. As I've been scheduling to be in worship in multiple venues, it has been surprisingly difficult to find out what times worship is offered. This should be on the front page along with information on online services if you offer them. In the Facebook page, it should be in the "About" section of the church and is easily added.
If you are still having problems with livestreaming your service because of bandwidth, it may be easier to record the worship service and then upload it for a later Sunday broadcast. The advantage of online worship is that a participant has the advantage of watching it literally anytime after you post it.
If you display the service on the church Facebook page, is someone from the church responding to all of the comments made? Acknowledging those who are participating online may be good work for church members who are staying home right now. And the more participation your worship feed garners as it is ongoing, the more people are likely to see it show up in their browsing.
We are developing a team of mystery shoppers for the Crossroads district. Rather than attend in person, these volunteers will worship online and answer questions from a survey I've helped develop. Our goal is not to criticize but to help our online worship offerings to move on to perfection! We may even have money to put toward needed upgrades or training. Of course, churches are encouraged to fill out this survey for themselves as well! If you are interested in helping with our online task force, please contact me at email@example.com.
What I've discovered during this time is that our people are resilient. Our congregations have continued to support our churches even when they couldn't be there in person. But we have also seen our clergy find ingenuity they didn't know they had as we have been forced into new arenas. As we continue to be the church during a pandemic, may God bless our offerings to a world wide web!