The word “church” means “assembly”. So theologically a Christian church is made of those who gather in Jesus’ name, present by his Word and Spirit. And the Apostle John says that “talk[ing] with you face to face, so our joy may be complete” would always be preferable to writing, or in our day, livestreaming!
Still, we are so thankful for what was achieved by livestream and video conference during COVID. Praise God for all who used technical and other skills to serve.
Now I report that the livestream ministry will live on for the foreseeable future.
Recently, we completed a survey of St Michael’s livestream users. We got 55 responses, representing ~100 viewers (since some watched with one or more other householders). 75% are linked to St Michael’s.
And 75% use the service at least monthly, with an estimate of a ~50 people watching each week. That’s more people than attend the monthly Friendship Service, and on a weekly basis, similar to the Easy English Congregation, and almost as many as 8am.
People watch because they have health concerns or when they can’t come in person (illness, holidays), e.g. “A family member has a compromised immune system due to chemo” and “Work often finishes 2-3am on Sunday morning.”
Many appreciate that it’s the whole service, not just a sermon. E.g. “I like the ‘live’ aspect of it, but I’m also thankful for the quality of sermons and music choices made at St Michael’s.” And “Sometimes I can’t make the physical service, I love that I can still feel a part of the St Michael family.”
We are also serving people further afield, who often have relational connections, from Melbourne to Cooktown (Qld), from Peru to Canada, and in rural Australia (Brogo, Taggerty). One regular viewer reminded us, “We lost our local building in the fires, often unable to get to other buildings”!
It’s a significant ministry of word, prayer and song. And I encourage you all to see the livestream as a ministry of the whole parish, not just 9:45am congregation, though they carry the extra experience of being ‘online’ as well as ‘in person’.
So we would love to recruit willing tech volunteers (sound, cameras, Easy Worship) from other congregations to periodically serve at 9:45am. We’re also further upgrading and simplifying our tech equipment. And we acknowledge that not all are able to be ‘on camera’, or enjoy it when they serve that way. So we want to identify blockages and build confidence where that’s a factor.
I also urge all who use the livestream to ensure they engage more every time you watch. This could be by making a comment in the Facebook feed, or by filling in our ‘web connect form’. But it could also mean sending a message to a friend from church sharing what you were encouraged or challenged by that day: a hymn, a Scripture verse, a prayer, an idea from the sermon. This step both increases your level of engagement, and also acts as an encouragement to at least one other person.
And remember that, when not prevented by things like health or work, we should not give up meeting together, but encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day of King Jesus;’ return approaching (Hebrews 10:25).