Pastors and churches have definitely ventured into new frontiers the past two weeks in order to curb the spread of the COVID-19 virus. As they are saying on the news, we are practicing “social distancing” (I would prefer to call it physical distancing because we need to find more ways to stay socially connected) to “flatten the curve.” Leave it to the US to ascribe catchy buzzwords to a global pandemic. Churches have learned how to recreate their Sunday service to an online delivery system so much so that we crashed the internet yesterday (March 22, 2020).
But What If? What if we are asked to “shelter in place” for a period of time and we can’t meet with our production team to video a service. What if we can’t leave the house on Easter Sunday or any Sunday for that matter? How do we continue to worship with our congregations online during a shelter in place scenario.
Here are three steps you can take right now to be prepared for the worst case scenario. But I would argue that these steps help you prepare for a new future in how you connect with your congregation after the pandemic.
1) Get the Right Equipment. Your smartphone is the gateway to online video conversations but the key to making it a useful video recording tool is controlling the critical components of video recording, sound and lighting. I urge you to order/buy locally this week a wired, smartphone lapel microphone and a ring light with a tripod (even a tabletop tripod will suffice). The total cost on Amazon for these two pieces of equipment can easily be less than $150 and even under $100 and you can have them in days. Here is an example of a ring light and microphone. Proper light and quality sound can help you make a really effective video from your home office or dinner table. Just think, you can share a quick video on Sunday evening or Monday with that point or story that you couldn’t get to in your sermon because the closk was racing to noon!
2) Create a contingency plan for collecting music. There are two plans for collecting music for your “Shelter In Place Worship Service” but they require immediate action. The first plan, in the next few days, ask your team to record several musical selections to archive in a cloud drive that you can use in your video worship. Second, particularly if quarantine is already in place, use a video meeting app like Zoom to connect vocalists and musicians to collaborate on simple pieces and record them. Here is a fantastic example: YouTube Choir. Even if we don’t get to drastic measures to “flatten the curve,” having a collection of musical pieces to share during the week with your community is just a great way to live life!
3) Find a Video Editing App. Believe it or not, you can edit videos right on your smartphone or tablet/iPad. There are many free apps that allow you to do simple or even complex editing of your videos right on your device. Here is a link to a listing of the Top 21 Apps for your mobile device. PRO TIP: find a teenager in your student ministry that makes YouTube or Instagram videos and enlist their help with your video editing. You will be amazed by their creativity and skill and you might even find your video editor for your new “Post Virus Production Team” when we embark on our new normal in a few weeks or months.
Taking these simple steps right now, this week, will help prepare you in the event we are asked to stay in our homes for a period of time. I am convinced that becoming self-sufficient in communicating to your community will help you and your church connect with more people after this pandemic is over. These few weeks and months are changing the way we view church in a digital culture, but it’s not new. The world around us has been evolving and adapting to a new way to communicate and connect for more than a decade.
Welcome to the digital age Church! I am convinced it is a world where the church can thrive, the Gospel can reach more people that need it to experience it, and the hurting and hopeless can meet Jesus. You can do it Church!!!