Day 12 of #Write31Days and now for something a bit different…
One of the biggest reasons to reach ‘out there’ – to outside our church walls – is that so many people just wouldn’t step foot over the threshold of a church. So how will we share the Gospel if we don’t get ‘out there’? And of course for some, coming to church is more than a mental barrier it’s a physical one.
Yesterday I was privileged to be part of launching ‘ChurchLive’ a new initiative from the Church of England and Twitter, which will see a church service live streamed each week for a year. Rev Arun Arora, Director of Communications for the Archbishops’ Council said:
This is a project designed to bring Church of England services from Malton to Miami, Middlesbrough to Milan and Manchester to Mumbai.
Those who may not make it to church on a Sunday for all sorts of reasons will have the opportunity to be part of a service. The ability to join in worship shouldn’t be restricted to geographical constraint.
What a frankly, brilliant idea! Yesterday we had people viewing from across the world, New Zealand, USA, Spain, Russia.
And what we also found yesterday was a number of people who were housebound through illness or incapacity joining us for the live stream, including one who hadn’t been able to get to church for months due to illness. But as well as that, and here’s where the mission comes in, there were people commenting on how they had thought church was boring, and this showed that it wasn’t!
There are so many barriers to people coming to church who have not been before. Just imagine what it might be like if you had never been to church before. It might be like being invited to tea with the Queen – a million things would be running through your head:
What do I wear? What do I say? How will I know what to do? Who will be there? What time do I arrive? Is something expected of me that I won’t know about in advance? Will I be the only one who has never been before? Will I be the outsider? …
Now of course if it was tea with the Queen, a particularly special occasion, that excitement might be enough to get you over your concerns, just as it is with weddings and funerals and other celebration events. But what if you didn’t have that excitement? What if, for whatever reason you were just thinking about going. For some, going to church is so out of their sphere of knowledge or understanding that it might be just too much.
And that’s where I think ChurchLive is going to have an added bonus, of connecting people yes, but also, in breaking down some of those fears, breaking down those barriers, and allowing people to see from the comfort of their own arm chairs, what it might be like at church, what to expect, what to wear, what to say. For those who can’t or won’t come to church, it can offer a taste of something they might otherwise never see and that is fantastic.
As the services are streamed via Periscope, there is the option for people to comment and ask questions, with some yesterday asking about the style of service, the denomination, the reason for doing things. Again, a great way for barriers to be broken down, for people to ask those questions in safety, even anonymously without fear or ridicule.
At the mo this is planned as year long project but I really hope it will be longer and that it will encourage people to think about live streaming their services more, as it really was so simple. We have a great tech team and did a few extra things but actually all you need is a smartphone! Just imagine how many people could be reached with the Gospel message through using our phones? Isn’t our mission to reach ‘all nations’ with the message of Jesus? Well here’s a very 21st century way of doing just that…
You can watch the stream from yesterday below. Apologies for the odd swear word in the comments, we blocked as quick as we could! And if you want to find out more, follow the @churchlive Twitter account...