What is your church doing?

It has been four months since the COVID-19 pandemic closed the physical doors of churches everywhere. In the time since, churches have taken different measures to continue in ministry and life of the congregation.

In this thread, feel free to share what your church has done to continue “being the church” in this time on pandemic. What was worked? What hasn’t? What are you currently doing?

This is an open discussion, feel free to share and reply to one another.

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As the lockdown happened my church moved to Zoom with streaming to Facebook. We chose this route because our pastors wanted to be able to see people’s faces and eventually to host breakout rooms after or during the service to create space for people to interact.

We’ve shied away from a fully pre-recorded and produced worship service (although worship music is pre-recorded by the band using bandlab) and have added some mid week virtual calls for different groups in the church. We also have continued community service in the ways that are still possible: https://www.facebook.com/PresbyFDN/videos/2598852957096741

Since the beginning of March, my brick and mortar church in Tacoma has been experimenting with how to best meet the needs of our congregation and also continue the many ways the church serves in our neighborhood. Initially, our session and pastor tried pre-recording a service and then sending it out via e-news on Sunday. For us, that didn’t really work.

The next week, we tried a zoom call (a normal meeting not a webinar), and it was awesome! Being able to see each other’s faces, interact with one another, even have a “dance party” at the end where kids show off their Sunday school art, has become a staple in our zoom church these past few months. Each week, we learn too, When problems come up with muting or unmuting, experimenting with audio settings, or learning how to use more advanced zoom settings, we learn and improve our weekly services. Four months later, our zoom church services feel, to me at least, like second nature.

With that said, there have also been big challenges. We have lost some of our older congregants. They either struggle to get online, or simply choose not to, and our session has had to reach out and work with them in a more intimate one-on-one way. We were also zoom bombed, which is basically a security flaw where trolls are able to join the call and make trouble with hateful rhetoric. While we are able to quickly remove them, it still caused a disruption of the flow of the service. (See more about this in #hybrid-church.)

I think that most people miss the being there – the hugs, and the smells of candles or flowers or people, or even the hard wooden pews – but this is what we have for now. So, we are making the best of it.

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We have been doing monthly open air services in a park nearby the church. Pretty basic and short, not trying to emulate the “full experience” but nevertheless incredibly encouraging to just see each other’s faces in 3D.

Other than that, our services are pre-recorded which I feel is not ideal (though better than nothing). My experience is that church has shifted from large gatherings to revolving mainly around small group meetings now. And while I miss meeting the larger church and interesting chats with a lot of different people, I think the small-group centered church setting can work just as well! Praying that the situation over here in Germany remains relatively mild as it is currently, such that at least smaller in-person meetings don’t need be restricted again in the future.

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We live streamed every single week from March 15th through July 26th. We started out with zoom and facebook live, then invested about 2K in bettter cameras and audio and used VMIX, to stream to facebook and YouTube. We were able to keep our congregation “meeting” while giving options for levels of engagement with social media- a more digitally quiet experience on YouTube, and more digitally active facebook live experience with a moderator, and commenting and such. Facebook and YouTube ( and some SEO work) helped people find us online, and we actually added several new families to our church over the last 4 months, with lots of people expressing interest in coming as they relocate to the area. It was totally exhausting, but worth it. We’re not a huge church- maybe just 250 people (about 100 of them under the age of 18) so it was important to not pre-record to keep us “together” as much as possible. There was a lot about this process that wasn’t perfect and still isn’t. I’m just one person not from a tech background, working part time, using my limited but growing knowledge of UX, DX, digital/content marketing and data analytics to build our digital footprint, but I’ve found with most things that the Lord is going to provide and transform us and we need to be faithful to work hard at the work he’s given us.

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That’s really great Charity! Since your church is doing everything live through Facebook and YouTube, did you find that the gallery mode/interactivity/breakout rooms of Zoom were not missed much as you transitioned away from Zoom?

Have the YT/FB commenting features been sufficiently engaging?