Streaming Good News

Some years back, in the early days of the pandemic, I wrote an open letter apology as a pastor’s column to Tammy Faye Bakker. If you’re bored, you can read it here. In the 1970s and '80s, she and her husband, Jim, had built a media religious empire through televangelism. They had broadcast networks, merchandise, and eventually a Christian theme park. Of course, it all came crashing down following a very public scandal in 1987. I had assumed that as a mainline Christian, I would never need any of the tools they possessed to carry out ministry to an entirely virtual audience. But I was wrong.

Pastors Column 5.23.2024 smallerThe worldwide shutdown of 2020 had every organization pivoting to online instruments. Soon, we were figuring out how to broadcast to Facebook Live, positioning ring lights, setting up Zoom accounts, and leading worship in an empty 1,200-person Sanctuary. Because social media is all about the “likes,” “hearts,” and sharing, we worked to get the word out about our emerging online presence. It was a baptism by fire. We’ve come a long way.

Today, a virtual congregation of 400-500 people watches our Sunday morning services every week. We broadcast from a control room high up in the bell tower using a livestreamer that manages three cameras, with more possibly coming. Worship slides act as a digital bulletin for our viewers, and our streams are directed to our livestream page and YouTube. These videos are then edited and uploaded to our church’s Vimeo page weekly by our dedicated communications staff. We are just beginning to explore ways to engage our virtual worshipers, such as incorporating a digital friendship pad and fostering community. And let’s not forget our volunteers who ensure the sound quality in the Sanctuary, adjusting mic levels and responding to audio disruptions that sometimes occur.

I am deeply grateful for the dedication and hard work of our communications staff and volunteers who are leading our church’s efforts into the future. The next time you join us online, I invite you to join me in expressing your gratitude through a prayer, and perhaps even 'like' us to show your support.

See you Sunday.