We’ve all been in uncharted territory over the last few weeks with the COVID-19 lockdown. And while our team at Cooke Media Group has been helping churches and ministry organizations live stream for years, it’s a new experience when 100% of your congregation is on the other end of a camera. So now I’m being flooded with calls and emails about Easter. How can churches present a compelling online presence for Easter services? With that question in mind, here’s some suggestions:
1. Don’t worry too much about your analytics (so far.) Certainly churches have been live streaming for years, but we’ve never been in a situation where your entire congregation was watching online. So we simply have nothing to compare it to. I know churches that correctly decided to cut their music and worship down to 10 minutes and then do a 20 minute sermon because their online audience was leaving, and others who are doing a 45 minute worship set and 45 minutes of preaching – and have great live stream numbers. So “what works” is what works for you. Know your congregation, and don’t be afraid to experiment.
2. Keep it simple. Yes, it’s Easter, but this year, it doesn’t have to be an extravaganza. Focus on the worship set and the message. Those are the most meaningful elements of the service. Tighten up and think of this being an intimate service that brings people into the presence of God.
3. Some churches are doing a Good Friday service online. I love that because it’s another way to connect with the congregation during the week. My suggestion is to make it small. Music is fine, but don’t feel it’s necessary for a Good Friday online experience. This could just be a small devotional moment with your congregation.
4. What about drive-in services? You heard right – the “drive-in church” that Robert Schuller pioneered back in the 70’s is coming back! Churches across the country are adopting it during our social distancing period, and it might work for you. Do check the rules in your city, because the “social distancing” guidelines vary. You’ll need an elevated stage, a good sound system or radio transmitter, and preferably some magnification video screens. And be sure to let the folks in their cars honk for amen! This week I received a message from Robert A. Schuller, son of Dr. Schuller, who told me:
“I am encouraging pastors to follow my dads example and have a drive in service starting next Sunday. Get a radio transmitter for $150 on Amazon. Everyone can listen on their car radio. Set a parking lot location, stand on the back of a pickup or on top of an RV and share the Love of Jesus. Let the world know that there is always a way. Spread the word.”
5. My suggestion #1 “Don’t Worry” is really the key. This is Easter. Yes it’s different in many ways, but through technology, we can still connect, share the resurrection message, and stay in touch with the people we love.
Happy Easter Online!