It happens to the best of us. We decide we are going to be in church each Sunday, but sometimes life gets in the way. Things like vacations, sick kids or car trouble keep us from worshipping with your church family. Luckily, we can pull out our phones, open our laptops or activate the streaming box on our TV to livestream the services.
In today’s age of “convenience attendance,” online worshippers have become one of the fastest growing segments of a church’s membership. Clearbranch United Methodist Church (UMC) in Trussville began live streaming on Christmas Eve 2018 and weekly views of their Sunday morning worship services average around 350 a week.
These are good numbers to add to Sunday morning weekly attendance, but the REAL ministry of online church streaming emerges DURING the service itself. Browsing through the comments section of any Clearbranch service stream shows members that are home dealing with frustration or hardship. They interact with points that the pastor is making in his sermon. They ask for prayers over things they are enduring. These people would love to be there in person, but they simply cannot make it physically to the church building. The church has to take Jesus to where they are instead.
The church’s spread through the world in a digital way can take many forms. Clearbranch uses livestreaming through services like Facebook or on their website. Anyone can download their ROKU app and watch services live on their TV. They also offer the complete services as “audio only” options through Apple Podcasts or Spotify. Clearbranch also creates original content each week on its YouTube channel that acts as a follow up to each week’s sermon from the previous Sunday.
Basically, the church has to accept that there are people hungry for Jesus, and, due to one thing or another, may not darken the door to the sanctuary. They may have been hurt by the church at some point and have issues being there in person. Being able to watch from where they are, on their terms, allows the church to do its job and continue to minister to the world. Options like livestreams or podcasts allow the curious or broken to be a part of the church and hopefully grow in their walk with Christ.
- Mark Harvard, Director of Communications
Clearbranch UMC, www.clearbranch.org