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.