Friends, last week we sent out a survey about our worship services and many of you responded. Thank you! Some of the feedback was hilarious (what the tech team should do when I forget to turn on my mic), some was incredibly helpful (music), and some asked about why we are doing things the way we are. I want to respond to the third part. We chose in September to move to an online only service at 10:00 and a Live In Person Service at 11:00 (perhaps you will join me in thinking of it as l.i.p.s.).
Many expressed concern that this service is not all that they desire. I sympathize. I also wish again for a 9:00 contemplative service and a 10:30 contemporary service. Neither service (10:00 and 11:00) is all that I desire either. I have never wanted to preach to a camera. But, knowing you are on the other end helps a great deal!
We chose to do this for a number of reasons; none of them are about making the former services more alike. I will offer three reasons, each was discussed with teams: elders, and in the summer -- a team devoted to thinking through how we do church. One, we were having a difficult time finding volunteers for all of the needed slots for two services (ushers, greeters, tech, music, liturgy, kids). We don't pressure people into service and we respect, even moreso than a year ago, your limits and wisdom about how to do life. Your limits are always welcome here. Limits are part of how we assess calling. With the change to the 10 and 11 service, we reduce our need for volunteers by a lot, which also means that those who are serving either every week or every other week have less to do.
Two, I learned this summer the incredible difficulty of getting good sound out of our speakers, into Celebration Hall, and then into your speakers at home. When we were hoping this would be a few months, this was a different problem. As the months stretched out before us, it was a different calculation. This is why we have simplified the music for the 10:00 service.
This explanation could take us down many rabbit trails, but ultimately we don't have a paid professional sound mixer who can work on this for 15 hours/week (which would be what it would take and what other churches who pre-record, are having to utilize).
Three, it is incredibly challenging to be authentic to a camera and to people in a room. I never imagined our services would be live-streamed, but thanks to wise foresight they already were for missionaries and shut ins. Our set up is very good, but when you take into account that we have about 150 members it is exceptional.
However, it was increasingly challenging for all of the people in the cameras to figure out how to be present to the people in the room and on camera at the same time. For this reason, we separated into two services that can each deal with their limits and also be authentic in presentation.
While I am certain there will be lasting change in the wake of this past year, I have no plans to do anything other than put our 9:00 and 10:30 services back into place when our small team that is constantly evaluating how we do this tells me its time, and the elders approve.
Hang in there my friends. -