The pandemic almost closed my church. Technology saved him


Larger organizations such as the 3,000-member Providence Baptist Church in Raleigh were already using streaming services and recording them before the pandemic, but they jumped at the chance to do more and connect more deeply with their congregation during this time. crisis.

“We really increased our chat functions during the service,” said John Erwin, the executive pastor. “This includes engagement strategies with special moments that viewers can respond to by clicking a link and / or virtually raising their hand to trust Christ or pray for.”

Retired Pastor Danny Lemons, who recently led the disciple for 14 years at the 400-member United Methodist Church of the Messiah in Shippensburg, Pa., Said Messiah is experiencing a 100% increase in online attendance. To keep their members engaged, they distribute digital versions of their newsletter and hymn lyrics in advance.

At Chapel in the Pines Presbyterian Church in Chapel Hill, Pastor Andrew Taylor-Troutman not only downloads a recorded sermon each week that can be viewed asynchronously from their website, but also offers a virtual weekly fellowship service. Participants bake their own bread and cup at home, and after prayer, they take turns helping themselves, all in real time.

Temple Beth Gold in Raleigh, which is home to a religious school and early learning center, complements online lessons with polls from survey apps and word cloud generators to keep their students engaged.

Build new bridges

At the height of the pandemic and after the murder of George Floyd, Taylor-Troutman contacted Pastor Larry Neal of Mount Zion Baptist Missionary Church, a historically African-American community also in Chapel Hill. “When I suggested that our two churches pray together,” said Taylor-Troutman, “Reverend Neal didn’t just say yes, he came up with a plan calling for our people to come together every week.” The two religious leaders then coordinated a weekly conference call, and they recently switched to Zoom, where attendees interact and bond as prayer partners.

The internet has also provided a much safer and more flexible alternative to traditional plate handing. Visitors to the Chapelle dans les Pins site can now devote themselves online to the mission of their choice via a personalized drop-down menu. This approach has fostered new initiatives such as partnering with a local restaurant to provide meals to those in need, a project that serves the community and stimulates economic development. With this new approach, Taylor-Troutman said, Chapel in the Pines revenue increased 8%.

Michael Fulp, pastor of the Cedar Square Friends Reunion in High Point, North Carolina, credits the innovation that his congregation has helped retain his youth, a challenge for churches across the country. “Young people are much more comfortable with iPhones, iPads and computers than the older generation, which helps them stay connected with us. The same goes for social media. Our Facebook subscribers have doubled from 200 to 400. “

“Another benefit of the technology is that it has allowed us to bring together other Reform Jewish congregations across the state and nation,” said Rabbi Lucy Dinner of Temple Beth Gold. “For example, we have hosted a joint Shabbat service in honor of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and soon we will also be offering a virtual lunch and learning event with two hours of teaching, featuring rabbis from other temples. ”

Capture the power of content

While faith communities may not be the first to embrace the cloud-first corporate mindset, we can think outside the box and put valuable internal resources to work for us. For the first time in years, the Science Hill Choir was unable to come together to perform our annual Christmas Cantata in December. Instead of an in-person event, we simply played a favorite performance from our DVD archive, and all viewers, whether online or in the boardroom, enjoyed the nostalgia of watching familiar faces come together and sing.

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