See more ideas in the chapter: “Best practices in streaming services” in Growing the Post-pandemic Church.
Read about innovative strategies in Growing the Post-pandemic Church.
Today I have been engaged to analyze a traditional worship service. And, it is an exceptionally anointed and well organized worship expression. However, when leaders of the contemporary service participated in the traditional service they wore clothes representing their culture.
There is nothing wrong with this, but it can distance you from your listeners. This is because each culture has what Paul Hiebert (Cultural Anthropology) describes as aesthetic “products” or expressions of dress that show reverence for their culture.
While many leaders want to stretch congregants’ acceptance of other cultural norms, during worship is not usually the place. The word “worship” means to intimately draw close to God. A worship service is not the place to create cultural acceptance (though laudable), but a place to create minimize cultural differences and increase focus heavenward.
Thanks to Tim at Worship Deeper for this curated list:
And a few personal favorites of mine (Bob W):
Forced-perspective will make objects in the background look closer. To avoid distractions, be aware of this phenomenon as you film your worship services. Below is an example about how making objects in the background look closer is used routinely in movies.
Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: Online guests can have a more interpersonal experience if they can dialogue with others before, after and when appropriate during an online service. But, there should be a pastoral “moderator” who can answer questions, guide and encourage. Here is how one church does it, by utilizing an “online campus pastor.”
Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: Worship registration “templates” often ask for too much information than visitors to your online service may be ready to give. Check your online registration site and ensure that phone numbers and email addresses are optional, not required like the example below. This example, from a client church that is making great strides in becoming visitor focused, was unaware it had this requirement.
Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: Backlighting (putting a light shining down on a head/back of a person) is standard lighting practice. However, churches often don’t have lights hung to do this or they are unaware of the importance of this standard lighting practice. A backlight (done well on the singer in the picture below) makes a person on the platform stand out in a 3-dimensional manner. Without a backlight, people on a stage may only appear 1-dimensional (like a card-board cutout).
Below is a picture of how ChurchProduction.com illustrates this. Find out more at … https://www.churchproduction.com/education/lighting-critique-the-good-the-bad-and-the-exceptional/
Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: To ensure your streaming service doesn’t have a second class feel, make sure that an online announcer greets online attendees at the scheduled start time. A blank screen will leave online attendees wondering if they’ve connected to the right website.
Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: Distractions bother leaders, sometimes more than they bother attendees. If a microphone gives feedback, a music stand falls over or a child cries out, the church leader is often especially annoyed. But when stagehands and technicians are moving equipment behind the leader while she or he prays, that leader may be unaware of the distractions going on behind them. Because I evaluate online services for the clients I coach, I find there is generally movement behind the pastor during the prayer that follows the music. The fix is for the leader to review the recorded online services each week, take notes for improvement and address recurring distractions delicately but directly.
The story of Mary and Martha, as translated in The Message Bible, gives insight and this phrase sums it up nicely: “One thing only is essential, and Mary has chosen it—it’s the main course, and won’t be taken from her.” Read the rest of the passage to discover what this “main course” is …
38-40 As they continued their travel, Jesus entered a village. A woman by the name of Martha welcomed him and made him feel quite at home. She had a sister, Mary, who sat before the Master, hanging on every word he said. But Martha was pulled away by all she had to do in the kitchen. Later, she stepped in, interrupting them. “Master, don’t you care that my sister has abandoned the kitchen to me? Tell her to lend me a hand.”
The Master said, “Martha, dear Martha, you’re fussing far too much and getting yourself worked up over nothing. One thing only is essential, and Mary has chosen it—it’s the main course, and won’t be taken from her.” Luke 10:38-42 MSG
Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: It is important to poll your congregants to find out which portions of your service are connecting them to God (the Hebrew word for “worship” means to “connect with God” face-to-foot). Also poll attendees to discover which part of the service are not connecting them to God.
Here are four principles for measuring which elements are connecting congregants with God during worship.
- Use a Likert scale and ask them anonymously to respond using either a “frequency” or “quality” Likert scale.
- Ask congregants to measure each segment of the worship service.
- Evaluate services separately … don’t try to compare between different services. This is because each service has a different culture.
- You will discover a numerical measurement for different elements.
Don’t discard elements immediately. Many only need tweaking or rearranging. Make adjustments and re-poll the attendees in 3-4 months.
This does not need to be limited to live streaming sessions. Because a prayer chat can be monitored by the prayer team and continue during the week or at designated times. The idea is to offer more opportunities for people in need to connect with congregational members with the gift of intercessory prayer, c.f. James 5:14-16, 1 Tim. 2:1-2; Col. 1:9-12, 4:12-13.
Note the detail in the stained-glass windows above the minimalist depictions of buildings on the stage.
Notice how the speaker dresses in a manner that can relate to multiple generations. The older culture has expectations of dressing up to honor God, which usually in their culture includes a jacket. Younger generations may synergize styles to create innovation, sometimes called aesthetic fashion.
This client congregation has a well conceived online presence. In fact, the software they use translates the time from their timezone to the watcher’s timezone. However, without the timezone designation (ET or CT for example) it is confusing when the service will start. Readers should emulate the well-conceived design of this client congregation, but add timezone designations to help remote watchers.