Ready to Try Online Worship: Tips From a First-Timer


By Rev. Sam Dawkins

For friends who are thinking about putting a service online next week, but it might feel daunting because you've never done it before, here are a few things you can do that I learned over the past few days that will make it less so.

1. You need a streaming license (not just a copyright license) to post any copyrighted music or liturgy on Facebook, YouTube, or any other platform. If you don't have that, the video can be muted or removed. If you don't have one and you don't think your church can buy one, use public domain hymns and create your own liturgy. You can also just record your sermon and create a Spotify or YouTube playlist to equip your congregation to worship during that time or throughout the week. Music and copyrights caused the most stress for me over the last 48 hours.

2. If you don't have a good internet connection, you can prerecord your sermon or service and use Facebook Premiere if you'd like to have a scheduled viewing time where you can interact with your congregation. We did this. There were pros and cons. I had to put a lot more time into getting the service recorded, edited, and uploaded, but by doing that, people could access the video on Facebook, YouTube, and our website and we were still able to have a live experience. Facebook Live would've taken less time and could have been just as effective, but things also could have gone wrong and there would have been no way to fix it.

3. We had a few different cameras and the thing that worked best for sound and video was an iPhone. If you don't have great equipment, your phone can get the job done, especially if you're able to take sound out of your soundboard.

4. It was really enjoyable to be able to touch base with our congregation and others through doing a live showing on Facebook. It's worth doing it if you can, but you can get creative and not feel pressure to put on the whole Sunday morning experience. Normally our service is an hour long. Today's was 45 minutes. And I think it was the best choice for our congregation. If you can connect personally through video with your church on Sunday morning, that's way more important than having a high-quality production to watch.

Rev. Sam Dawkins is pastor of West Georiga UMC and the University of West Georgia Wesley Foundation.