October 15, 2020 | by JB Brayfindley
A renowned worship designer, consultant and educator, Dr. Marcia McFee was the guest speaker at the CNUMC Wednesday Webinar, November 14 from 4:00-5:00 p.m. with an open discussion afterwards.
“In the last few months, we’ve all become film makers,” said McFee who researched and wrote the book, “Think Like a Film Maker.” By interviewing filmmakers, McFee discovered how to make stories “stick with you” and create those unforgettable messages. “It started out as a metaphor, film making, an analogy… but [during this pandemic] we ‘ve [all] had to employ the actual techniques that film makers use to bring our story to a screen so that we might connect with people.”
“Our neighborhood has changed in terms of how we worship and who we worship with,” stated McFee listing how churches have re-connected with previous attenders who moved away as well as home bound constituents using various digital platforms instead of in person events. “This is a challenging time and a devastating time. It’s also a time for us to learn a lot about good ways to communicate that can include more people.”
McFee reflected on what participants shared about how their churches are using various online resources including Zoom, livestreaming, pre-recorded services and a combination. McFee encouraged pastors to do what works for their church and stated, “it doesn’t need to be perfect—it just has to connect.”
However, McFee encouraged all churches to decorate for the holidays because whether there is in-person services or not, the decorations can be photographed and videotaped (without any audio needed). These images can be used for online Sunday worship and meditations. Also, the images can be used as templates for songs—using strategically placed dark spots for the background of the words. For more graphic resources, McFee recommended unsplash.com (photos) and pexels.com (photos and videos).
“It’s not just time, but keeping people engaged,” said McFee when asked how long a worship service should be. She talked about learning and practicing technical skills in order to lead in a deeply spiritual way. For example, McFee noted the need for effective use of transitions, the starting and ending different aspects of the worship experience. “Transitions are important because as soon as people are aware of the mechanics, they are out of the story … practice the technical aspects so that in the moment we can be truly present as leaders.”
“How do we prepare people—they’re in their home, they’re in a familiar surrounding?” asked McFee. Churches need to consider how to help viewers create a sacred time and space for worship at home. She noted that including a time to light a candle or hold a special prayer rock can engaged people at a deeper level. Also, to boost involvement, McFee recommended adding songs with motions to help connect people to the music.
“I think it is super important to keep people in 3-D, in other words, in our bodies,” added McFee . According to McFee, participation is an important component in online as well as in-person worship. “We’re looking at a screen and this kind of Zoom gloom can happen—we get detached from our bodies. And so, as much as possible, asking people to light a candle at a certain moment… a ritual action…like pick up a worry stone and have a prayer time…”
McFee also spoke about how to engage listeners from the start.
“I teach about the “Threshold Moment” where we draw people into our story,” said McFee referring to the moment people decide to engage in the worship video or not. “The first two minutes [of the worship service] are absolutely crucial because that is the moment that people lean in and go on the journey with you, or they lean back and remain observers which allows every other distraction to be going on.”
McFee also discussed ideas for Advent using music and lights as meditative focuses.
Click here to hear this webinar and access related resources.
McFee encouraged those interested in finding more ways to “reboot” their worship services to consider signing up for a special Pandemic Editions of her six-week interactive online worship learning series entitled, “The Gift of Revitalization.” This online training is currently being offered to members of our conference for free by the Leadership Development Office. Participants will have access to six weeks of downloadable articles, videos and live webinars (also recorded archives). The training focuses on improving worship no matter the size or style of worship without a big budget. The course is tailored to worship practices during a pandemic and explores the basics of sensory-rich worship design while emphasizing safety protocols and getting creative for online expressions without burning out.
Click here to register for the 6 week series.Register at: https://ny163.infusionsoft.com/app/form/cal-nevada-ac-umc-reboot-2020
Advent/Christmas fully-scripted worship series featuring the appreciation of the role of music in difficult times: www.worshipdesignstudio.com/believe (hardship rebates available)
Free downloadable Caroling Resource with Karaoke Tracks, Songbooks, and Leader Guide with ideas and safety protocols: www.worshipdesignstudio.com/carol2020