These are unprecedented times, and as we watch things unfold around the world on an hour-by-hour basis even words like unprecedented don’t seem to capture the gravity of the situation. The good news is: there is hope. God wasn’t caught off guard by COVID-19. Heaven isn’t in panic mode trying to figure out what to do. He already knows what to do: he has a plan for His glory and our gain.
This is truly a time for believers to put their faith into practice. We trust in God, and now our world is in desperate need of us to show that trust in action. There are two practical areas where technology can really help us stay connected during unprecedented times of isolation.
Churches have been streaming for as long as streaming has existed. The technology to start streaming is universally available, and more churches than ever have begun to stream. At Faith Ministries (my church) we used to have our church service for a live audience and then used cameras to allow those who were not in the room with us to watch. Now our rooms our empty, and everyone knows that.
This is a great time to considering changing what you’re streaming. We aren’t doing worship services for a gathering anymore; we are doing an individual worship TV show. This may require us to change the content of our services, our worship sets, even helping those involved in the services to look directly at the cameras to help connect directly with our audiences.
For some churches a long worship set may work, but for others shorter sets with more mediation, scripture reading, and prayer may be best. As it appears we will be doing worship in empty rooms for a while, consider how your service production is connecting with a drastically different audience. Like I said: unprecendented times.
But let’s not forget to serve those without Internet access. “Sneaker net,” running DVDs and USB drives around to those who can’t stream might just make a comeback.
IT (Information Technology)
During these unprecedented times more and more we are being told to work from home and with each day that passes it seems another we are more isolated. Fortunately there are many tools that make connection and working remotely easy. Instead of viewing isolation as a disconnection from those to whom we minister we should simply view it as a change in medium to connect with them.
Social networks like Twitter and Facebook can really shine during a time like this as they provide a worldwide connection point. Enterprise tools like Microsoft Teams, GoToMeeting, and others provide chats and video conferencing for our staffs to stay connected and productive. And don’t forget the good ol’ telephone: in the old days we used to call it working the phone: it’s still an effective ministry tool, and one that ensures you can connect with anyone regardless of their tech savvy.
Use your time in isolation to build bridges—albeit virtual bridges—with those around you. It’s not like there are any new movies coming out or any sports to watch. All your favorite places to eat are carryout only. It seems God has cleared our schedules for a potential revival if we are willing to trust Him and use the tools at our disposal.
My encouragement to you is don’t panic, be patient, and put your faith into action. We are told to love others, and we say we do: so now go show the world!
Jonathan Smith is an author, conference speaker, and the Director of Technology at Faith Ministries in Lafayette, IN. You can reach Jonathan at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @JonathanESmith.