reflections upon a first Sunday away from our buildings

Coronavirus thoughts & ideas

I thought I would reflect upon the experience of this first Sunday away from the church building.

The saying goes that you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. Well it appears you can and we must. This has no doubt been a stretching experience for all those putting something together for this Sunday, and for those who are less tech savvy, something that has caused a lot of stress. I hope you have all breathed a sigh of relief and have probably learnt much!

I clicked through on all of the links sent to me and experienced a little of what church looked & felt like in each context. Can I recommend this! To get a feel and learn from each other is helpful.

For me it raised some practical issues & questions:

  • Does the link actually work, and is it obvious where to click? I couldn’t find anything to watch for several of the links. I suspect some had been and gone, which may have been what was intended? Would it be sensible to continue to make the service immediately available to those who want to watch later?
  • Can the speaker be heard? Sound is one of the hardest things to get right when recording video – obviously you get a better quality the nearer the speaker is to the microphone.
  • Lighting matters. Some situations looked a little gloomy/ murky – probably this is a learning experience! See Broadmead Community Church for an example of good intentional lighting & a nice relaxed scene
  • Location matters : front of church, home or office seem to be the options. Each gives off a particular message. Worth reflecting upon the message that you want to be communicated remembering that you would hope others beyond your community come to ‘visit’. This is a missional opportunity.
  • Does it work to just stand behind the lectern and do what you would always do? To present ‘as if’ you had a congregation? To preach as you always have? Length. Nearly all were shorter than the usual. Does online require a more streamlined approach.
  • Songs: some integrated recorded songs, some linked to youtube, some did ‘live’ music.


Just to note that there were differing types of approach

  • Just audio: (Amersham Free). I thought this worked surprisingly well. People are used to such and there is less that can go wrong.
  • Presentational. Most adopted what I call a presentational format (which is what we are used to), with varying degrees of participation from others. We need to be honest and say that this is hard for those of us that have preached from a pulpit for years … we are not used to the intimacy that online demands. Something of a challenge for us ?
  • Interactive. My only experience of this was that I joined with Kingshill church on the ZOOM platform, that enables every participant to be involved. I thought this worked very effectively. The host (Martin Hatfield minister) was in charge of the volume control – so could allow everyone to speak, or restrict to himself or those he wanted to involve. There was live music from someone’s living room. And what I particularly thought worked well was ‘coffee time’. Martin was able to randomly place those wanting to stay for coffee in smaller groups (where you can see each other) and one was able to just chat away in that group. We had over 30 folk and I thought it worked really well, involved others ‘live’, and I felt like I had participated in worship and not just watched it. Worth exploring I think, although I am not sure what sort of numbers it could handle and still work. Others may know.

I want to end with a well done one and all. Lets encourage each other as we continue to grow in this new way of ministering over the coming weeks.

Colin Pye 22/3/2020

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