In March of 2020 the world was thrown into a global pandemic called COVID-19 and while the complete story is yet to be told I offer this as a window into a challenge that took this church into the digital domain and the prayers that God answered along the way.
In the space of 6 days the church needed to figure out a way to continue to serve our members and to hold regular Sunday worship. I say six days because we met at church on one Sunday and by the next Sunday we were in total quarantine lock down. Every church and ministry was thrown into something just slightly short of chaos except for those that already had a presence on-line and the streaming infrastructure to support it; but even those ministries had to find away to-do on-line all of what was normally done person to person.
By the time the pandemic hit, Providence had been streaming in a minimal way for about seven months. Even with this head start there were many challenges and obstacles to overcome. Our first COVID live stream service was done with my iPhone setup on a table in the basement of my home. It was ok for a first offering but far from where we thought we needed to be. So I my first prayer was for excellence. The lighting, the sound, the back drop left much to be desired and I realized quickly that I had a lot to learn so my second prayer was for a mentor. I was glad that we were still reaching the people with the gospel and in some way ministering their needs but it was hit and miss each week and for various reasons. Many times I ended service COMPLETELY frustrated that things had not gone well.
A few weeks of this while trying various camera placements, microphone implementations and lighting solutions had me ready to call it quits. I was not happy with the product because I knew it could be better. By now it was clear that this was quarantine was going to go on for quite a while. Nothing I tried or knew to do was working and I shuttered as I thought about what the consumer was seeing and hearing on the distant end. The lights and sound where very much a concern along with the camera image quality BUT then there was the music or lack thereof and that was my third prayer. It is one thing to agonize over a sermon it is another to agonize over the sermon which is the life of a Pastor. Now I agonized over the lighting, the flow of the service, the internet connection, what I looked like on camera, the music and my own singing that people cannot help but hear. If it sounds like vanity it is not. All of these things matter when you broadcast. Mainstream media does it so well that you never notice it until you do; and when you notice it, it’s bad.
I admit I am a little picky when it comes to our on-line offering but it is because I want it to be the best it can be on the shoe string budget that we have. We do not have the type of on-line audience that would necessitate a large multi-media budget but I still want what we offer to be as professional as possible. This keeps me up at night because I worried over everything. Now mind you the entire on air broadcasting team is comprised of one person, my wife. We’re a team. I do all of the pre-broadcast work and she runs the show on Sunday morning.