Facebook, Zoom, Twitter, and YouTube become Sunday morning ministry tools
by Melanie Jongsma
LANSING, Ill. (March 22, 2020) – Though stereotypical churches are known more for tradition than technology, the Lansing faithful found a variety of ways to gather virtually for services on Sunday morning, March 22. One advantage of online services is that The Lansing Journal was able to visit multiple services and report on the experience.
“Now’s a perfect time to figure out how to use technology,” Saad Abbasy encouraged members of Cornerstone Church as they logged in to wearecornerstone.org/Live or tried to follow on the church’s Facebook page. Abbasy was part of the team that made changes to Cornerstone’s website and communicated with members about how to connect. For their first online meeting, various Cornerstone leaders made brief presentations about ways to connect during the stay-at-home order—new tabs on the website, new email addresses specific to ministries, and ongoing encouragement about caring for each other during what Pastor Michael Eberly called “this crazy, weird season.”
Cornerstone experienced some technical difficulties throughout their online service, but the comments from people watching the Facebook Live version offered encouragement and appreciation for the efforts that were being made and the spirit behind it all.
The online service at Grace Church began with a familiar hymn, “It is Well with my Soul,” which Eunice Childress chose specifically for its message of peace during a time of storm. Grace Church is using the meeting app Zoom to deliver their online worship experience, which allows people to join via computer or phone.
Pastor Jason Nelson at Bethel Church welcomed worshippers via a YouTube video that was posted on Saturday and shared to the church’s Facebook page Sunday morning. Bethel leadership had emailed congregants instructions and links, and by noon on Sunday over 100 people had watched the video. “We are so glad that you are choosing to remain connected,” Nelson told viewers. This was Bethel’s first experience using video technology to reach beyond its own membership, and Pastor Nelson expressed excitement about new opportunities to be the church.
First Church PCA had cancelled in-person services last week, and by Saturday, March 21, they had prepared a video sermon that they shared via Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube. The message was titled, “Suffering’s Purpose: Hope,” and the YouTube description called it “A Sermon Amid the Coronavirus.”
At Living Word Church, member and preacher Adam Barker used Facebook Live to lead worship at 10:30am Sunday morning. Like Zoom, Facebook Live allows viewers to interact rather than simply watch—common Facebook emojis can be posted during the live streaming, and comments can be posted live or when watching later.
“We had been holding off on [cancelling] as long as possible,” Pastor John Holyer said in a YouTube video posted two days ago, “in the hope that we could continue to gather. But with recent developments over the past couple of days…it’s become clear that it’s time for us to make that decision as well.” Holyer’s flock, Trinity Lutheran Church, normally has meetings on Wednesdays and Sundays, Bible studies throughout the week, a monthly community meal, and a variety of other events and ministries—but all of those in-person gatherings have been cancelled until further notice. “We’re doing our part to minimize the risk of exposure,” said Holyer. Later that same day, Trinity posted a video of their Lenten Midweek Service, and on Sunday Pastor Holyer videoed a sermon from his home.
Overall, in spite of technology glitches—some caused by inexperience and some related to the large numbers of online viewers in Lansing and across the nation—many churches are finding humor and opportunity in adjusting to new ways of being the church. And Living Springs Church, in neighboring Glenwood, offered these tips to congregants as they adjust to the new normal:
The Lansing Journal has posted a Lansing Churches page on our website, in order to provide updated information for church members and others who are looking for ways to stay connected throughout the quarantine. To add a church or update your church’s information, please complete and submit the form below: