Churches Learn How to Go ‘Online and Beyond’ at Recent Webinar

April 02, 2020

By JB Brayfindley
Asking members to touch a coffee table in their home to recall Jesus knocking over tables in the Temple or asking families to unlock a door in their home to reflect on how the Resurrection story ‘unlocks’ hope, are both examples of interacting with congregations in a way that Jason Moore calls ‘mustard seed’ moments. It is engaging people in their space by using images from their home--something uniquely adapted to online communication.
Moore was the speaker during a two-hour long webinar, “Telling the Old Story in a New Time,” on Wednesday, April 1, 2020. Rev. Craig Brown, executive director of Congregational Development, and Selby Ewing, Director of Communications, introduced the first of a new free series held on Wednesdays from 4:00 – 5:30 p.m. designed for lay and clergy throughout the California-Nevada Annual conference.
170 people signed up the for the ‘webinar,’ a Zoom conferencing event in which only the speaker can see the attendees. Moore, an author, creative worship and guest readiness coach, presented 9 principals in facing the unique challenges of church worship and activities in light of the current restrictions due to COVID-19.
“Take advantage of the limits you have,” said Moore. “These are brand new opportunities!”
He explained that the typical roadblock of having “never done it this way before” is actually the reason for trying new things and making a few mistakes because we are all living through an unprecedented time. 
According to Moore, adding an online component to worship doesn’t mean trying to duplicate the typical Sunday morning ‘in-the-pew’ experience. Instead, it means consolidating and broadening information for a wider audience who might be distracted. It also means adapting to a new mindset, moving away from a monologue style to a dialog format with ‘chats.’
“Don’t just do the same stuff,” explained Moore about going online, “change it up!” He referred to the Ted Talk model of bite size messages that people can, in turn, share with friends on social media—growing the impact of the message and the reaching more people.
“Slick is not as important as authenticity,” said Moore pointing out that it is important for speakers to look directly into the camera and forego perfect wording in order to convey meaning. “Not precise words but the essence of words.”
Although sound, he said, is more important than the quality of the picture in video presentations, Moore invited churches to capitalize on the fact that using a camera gives the opportunity for viewers to get closer to a speaker. “Get closer!” he said. “Think of how to create a sense of intimacy.”
He asked tech teams filming live or pre-recording to make sure to first talk through the service and then to walk it through making sure to include all transitions beforehand. “Then pray it through and do it,” he added.
 “Church webpages are now not just the new ‘front door’ but are the ONLY door!” Moore said.  “Information matters! Make information easy to find online and … it must have accurate information.”
Due to the increased use of online services, especially on Sunday, Moore cautioned churches not to broadcast live on Easter Sunday but to upload pre-recorded services ahead of time.
Moore challenges churches to think of new ways to build community among current members as well as those who are new looking for God. He asked that reaching out include a ‘telephonic worship’ aspect using phones, and ‘analog’ style access through CD and/or print distribution. He also listed other ways churches across the country are using this time to continue to expand their ministries.
For more details and information, this webinar is available for viewing over the next 30 days on the conference website. A presentation handout with resources, links and other related material is available to download.