By Don Thrasher
For many years there have been two communication ministries churches have utilized to offer worship to an audience outside the walls of the building. Radio ministry has allowed people to hear worship services and other inspirational programs. Television ministry allows people to see and hear worship. Both are effective and used successfully by many churches. Some of the TV and radio programs and worship services are live and some are taped.
Recently, technology has enabled a third and new form of communications to broadcast worship ministries: “Live Stream.” Live streaming allows people to use their computers, go to the church’s website, and worship live with the clergy and the congregation of that church. Like radio and television ministries, one can hear or hear and see. Unlike those ministries, “Live Stream” gives a feel that you are right there with them.
Some of the church websites provide worship bulletins, attachments for people to sign in with their attendance, and even links for an offering if folks feel led to give.
Over the past few years, I have worshiped online from time to time through “Live Stream.” I have worshiped at different churches across the conference, across the jurisdiction, and even across the country that offer this ministry.
To me, I see the benefit of this ministry as an opportunity for those who have an internet connection to worship whether they are traveling, are home due to illness, or are on a staycation. It is also a great ministry to shut-ins or for those new in the community looking for a church home. The church website is usually the first stop for folks in their search for a new church.
“Live Stream” has been utilized to show worship, ordination services, and the meetings of North Georgia Annual Conference. It is also utilized for Jurisdictional Conference (it was so neat to watch our Bishops get elected there as well as their Consecration Service), and live streaming allowed many to watch General Conference in action. It was almost like being there.
For those who need to get away for a vacation and are unable to, Lake Junaluska offers “Live Stream” for its Summer Sunday Worship Series. It is amazing how retreat-like it was to attend worship via “Live Stream” there. Again, it was almost like being there.
Radio and television ministries are still around and are also still powerful. Yet with “Live Stream”, God has opened up a whole new avenue of ministry for this age. I would encourage churches to explore this avenue of ministry for its many blessings and benefits.
Don is an ordained Deacon in Full Connection in the North Georgia Conference and a certified Christian Educator in The United Methodist Church. He currently serves on staff at University Heights UMC in Decatur. He also serves as the North Georgia Conference Registrar for those Certified in Specialized Ministries.
Below are a few worth checking out. What other UM churches should we tune into via live stream? Let us know in the comments.Cascade UMC in Atlanta