God is Not Distant in Our Social Distancing

posted on May 07

By Rev. Trey Skaggs, pastor of Indianola First United Methodist Church

Here are just a few snippets of our online worship story…
First off, we have an insanely talented and passionate staff who happen to have extensive experience in audio engineering and video production. In addition, many are also phenomenal musicians. We've been live-streaming two (2) services a week for almost two years, and their giftedness has continued to grow our in-person attendance and well as our online presence. 
We got out ahead of the isolation. As soon as we heard talk of smaller crowds, we saw the "writing on the wall," so we pulled out a whiteboard and started fleshing out new and creative ways to connect with our people as well as increase our online audience... discipleship and evangelism. We decided whatever we put out, we were committed to “striving for excellence” in all aspects, and that we'd continually assess our effort in order to be better.
We landed on hosting two short, mid-week services, a Sunday Facebook live service (as normal) and a Sunday pre-recorded service, engaging sound engineering, multiple camera angles, etc. Our initial mid-week effort "Worship Sessions 1" was produced around March 13 and when launched, we "boosted" it in order to reach a greater audience. Since that initial effort, our Facebook page continues to grow in "likes" and many new folks have kept coming back, and even sharing our efforts.
A few weeks ago, we began "premiering" our videos with ADV beforehand. This allows the pastoral staff to engage with folks as they watch, creating a sense of digital community. We celebrate one another's presence, take prayer requests, etc. 
We have now started hosting "watch parties" of each premiere whereby the staff, congregation, and even visitors are hosting....this alerts every friend of the host. This has greatly increased our engagement.
In all this, we are continuing to explore new ways to connect. We haven’t quite figured it all out yet, but we are learning. Since COVID our online participation has sky-rocketed our — Easter service was viewed for like 30,000 minutes which is insane for an 800-membership church. 
Again, praise God for our talented staff.
Visit Indianola First UMC website. Join their online worship service, every Sunday on Facebook | The Vine at 9 am ~ Traditions at 11 am.

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