What Advice Would You Give Churches that Aren’t Live-Streaming?
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If you’re reading this, you’re likely not live-streaming weekly church services during this pandemic-prompted lockdown. If that’s you, my point here is simply to encourage you with some practical counsel. We’re all stumbling through unmapped territory here. I claim no monopoly on wisdom. Nevertheless, in hope of offering some small help, here are four brief suggestions.
1. Consider other ways to guide and inform your members’ devotional lives.
Our senior pastor, Mark, is picking a passage of Scripture each week that he’s encouraging our members to meditate on throughout the week. And, on Sundays, he’s encouraging everyone to listen to the sermon on that passage from our online archive. This practice has provided some helpful unity for our members’ devotional lives. Members often discuss the passage on the phone or in their electronically mediated small groups.
2. Consider how else you can edify and instruct your people throughout the week.
Mark has been writing daily letters that begin by reflecting on the week’s passage, and then shares personal updates, prayer requests from the congregation and our supported workers, pastoral counsel, and more. I’ve been writing weekly letters of a generally more expository flavor, briefly working through particularly timely passages like Psalm 3 and Psalm 121. One night a week, we’re also offering an inductive Bible study for church members, over Zoom, led by a rotating team of staff elders.
Also, a rotating crew of elders are hosting daily prayer meetings on Zoom from noon to 12:30. Any members who want to can tune in, offer prayer requests, and pray for each other. Those times open with a brief reading of and reflection on Scripture—when I lead, I focus on the weekly passage Mark has given us. These prayer meetings include a slowly updating list of requests specific to COVID-19, as well as regular updates from (or even sometimes live interviews with!) supported workers and pastors of other local churches.
3. Speak charitably and respectfully of churches that are live-streaming.
In my view, whether to livestream services during these shutdowns is a judgment call. It’s a matter of prudence, not sin and righteousness. As a pastor of a church that isn’t live-streaming, I have no beef with churches that are. And I have no problem at all with members of our church profiting from what other faithful churches are broadcasting.
4. Remember that unity is more important than agreement about disputable matters, and unity can thrive despite disagreement.
Be prepared to explain your rationale for not livestreaming gently, patiently, and repeatedly. Help members not take the disagreement personally, and make sure you don’t either! A difference in the head need not create divergence of heart. Especially amid disagreement over the wisest course of action, prize and preserve unity, and help your people do the same.